James M. Bonner
Monhegan Fog Bell (study), 2023
graphite on paper
24 x 17 in
Contemporary American realist painter James Michael Bonner received his formal training in art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock primarily under the late Al Allen. Born in 1959 in Little Rock, Arkansas, James still considers himself to be a self-taught artist believing the process of trial and error to be essential for artistic development. Citing the painters Andrew and Jamie Wyeth as major influences of his art, James taught himself how to paint with egg tempera and dry-brush watercolor eventually developing his own identifiable style. In addition, Jamie Wyeth’s proclivity for mixing different mediums has influenced him with incorporating oils, acrylics, casein, and gouache into his work. Having a desire to experience what other artists, including the Wyeth’s, have when in Maine, James began visiting there in the 1990’s and always enjoys painting and drawing the often-overlooked scenes that fade into the background of everyday life. Maine is beautiful and gritty all at the same time. It’s these opposing forces that oftentimes are explored through the hidden ambiguities of his work. In 2003, while rock climbing, James suffered a traumatic injury that would change the direction of his life away from art for almost a decade. The aftermath of the accident left him without the ability to paint because of limited dexterity in his hand. Unhappy without the ability to express emotion through his art, he was determined to comeback. In 2012 he began the arduous therapy of re-training his motor skills to facilitate the delicate details of his art. Although it takes longer to draw and paint now, some of his recent pieces have proven to be some of his “strongest” pieces to date. James currently resides in Kittery, Maine. He has artwork in galleries and corporate collections in the south and east coast, along with many private collections in Arkansas, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington DC, Florida, Delaware and Maine. Collectors of note include: Bank of America, Acxiom Corporations, the Estate of the late Jackson T. Stephens, and the Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr. Collection (willed to Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts).