"I started the piece with a tree in mind, when I finished I also saw a womanly figure. "
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“With art, I love that there are no rules and the possibilities are endless. I love that another layer can change the way I feel about a piece. I love that I can have a blank canvas in front of me and the rest of the world and my thoughts are silent.”
Bonnie Salser is a veteran of the Marine Corps, as well as a dedicated mother, wife and advocate for other veterans. Bonnie’s love of travel and memories of living a nomadic life during service motivates her to explore new places and landscapes. Growing up in Akron, Ohio and recently living in Portland, Oregon, she and her family continue to venture around the country seeking adventure and the wonders of nature.
Her grandfather was a gardener, which Bonnie connects to her affinity for gardening and connection to physical surroundings. Recognizing the underlying emotional and visual influence of nature in her life, she searched for forms of expression, eventually turning her impressions into paintings.
Bonnie served overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010 and eventually found herself in Austin, TX where she worked at a security facility. During night shift duty, she met ArtLifting artist Chris Marinez who became a de facto mentor and long time friend. This was the first time Bonnie began painting seriously. In developing her creative process, scenes from her travels flooded her mind with colorful memories of bazaars in the Middle East, Japanese landscapes, and Hawaiian islands. Taking concrete elements like plants and bodies of water, she abstracts the images into multi-dimensional pieces often using repurposed materials and everyday objects to apply the paint. “I am driven to create art because I have so many ideas in my head and I love to get them on canvas, glass, or wood to see how they turn out. The whole process is an exciting adventure.”
Art has been a form of stress relief for the challenges of PTSD she has faced. Taking regular space from her artwork allows her to refresh her eyes and ideas while she continuously evolves and learns about her style. Bonnie has discovered how much she loves to experiment, surprising herself with how ideas translate into visual stories. Drawn to endless possibilities within painting, her approach to art contrasts with the structure of military service. Boundless freedom to manipulate paint allows Bonnie to connect with her feelings and whims of the moment, a new and freeing experience.
Aside from creating art, Bonnie founded Veterans Own, a business to help veterans maximize and increase their benefits. Her dedication to raising awareness about PTSD in the veteran community and improving veterans’ livelihoods, speaks to the importance of her veteran identity. Her artistic visions, pursuits, and advocacy create a narrative that visually combines nature, experience and advocacy through bold abstract expressions.
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.