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Five minutes with artist Bonnie Gray

I don’t like to have favourites, but today’s feature must be one of my most-loved features yet! What incredible colour AND talent I have to share with you!

Yet to turn 30 years old, this Central Coast Australian artist was until recently studying songwriting and living in a granny flat without a TV or sound system and says she started drawing to keep her sanity alive.

Now, Bonnie Gray has fast become known as the ‘scientist of colour’ and is receiving commissions from around the globe.

The former Phillip Island-er is driven by creating art that evokes emotion and says her work is inspired by “tropical summers, 90s memories, songwriting bliss, pink flamingos, fruit smoothies and deep pockets filled with honest heart joys”.

Does that not sound like the most memorising (not to mention fun) concoction?!

This is the way Bonnie communicates too – with an encapsulating poetic creativity, her dyslexia (that she apologised to me for) totally irrelevant.

Bonnie is also involved in ‘The Bigger Picture Project’, where she collaborates with other artists to raise funds for the Gosford Shelter to “help young and old off the Central Coast streets into homes”.

New on the Australian art scene, I believe Bonnie is on her way to becoming a household name. And I’m so excited to share her work.

So without further ado, dive in and meet the extraordinary Bonnie Gray…

Where does the inspiration come from for your work? 

Every artwork has a unique touch. Words, poems, songs and stories are hidden amongst 90s tropical colours and layers of abstract shapes and textures. Inspired by every person’s individual story, I love to weave sentiment, sunlight and a touch of “you” ‘’clients’’ to each brushstroke. Every artwork is inspired by birthday parties, streamers, oceans, skies and 90s tee shirts.

What do you think it is that makes your work unique?

I think that the hidden words and poems and the combination of colours and shapes that I friend together are different.

What is the process like from the first idea to the final piece of art?

The process feels like baking, you start with the main ingredients which are the colours. This is usually sparked by binocular heart eyes scoping outdoors. It’s like going shopping for the main ingredients. My eyes scope life and its every day objects and things.

There was a moment I had walking through the city and my eyes caught two colours that looked beautiful together on the side of a bus. I put that in my imagination bag of coloured groceries to use that night. The painting process is an ongoing subconscious capturing of beauty then going colour cooking on canvas later on. Abstract painting is inventive baking on the spot with a slight sprinkle of direction it doesn’t follow a guide [or a] “cook book”.

What types of marketing have you found invaluable for your success so far? 

Instagram has been such a unique space for me. I have met the most stunning people through this avenue. I see my Instagram as a gallery and I love meeting the people that come through.

Instagram is a world wide bridge and connector for new friends and collaborating and this space is where I get all my work.

Where do you go or what do you do to ‘recharge’ your creativity? 

Outdoors does it for me every time. The ocean, mountains, palm trees and sunshine. I love finding new quaint cafes and their creative expressions, how they experiment with foods, colours, plates, and conversations. [I] love being in the midst of the stunning outdoor[s], creation and other people, food and café creations.

Who and what is involved in the process from idea to product? 

I used to carry around with me a sketch book and a pencil case with every colour possible and jot down ideas. Lately I use my iPhone to take photos of colour combos and then those colour combos go tap dancing with my brushes on white canvases. The process is simple and uncomplicated.

I think it helps me to not over think and enjoy, with the jazz sounds of Billie Holiday playing in the background. The hidden words and poems and songs come about in the moment of painting.

What have been some of the challenges of self employed life? 

Learning to be practical was and has been a massive challenge for me. I used to be in my own imagination and daydream land two years ago. Having a business it has taught me the importance and beauty of being practical. It has taught me that dreaming and ideas is like a train and practicals are the train tracks. You need both to enjoy the ideas and to see the ideas have momentum “giving your dreams legs’’.

And what about some of the highlights?

Highlights have been collaborating with artists and creatives on the central coast. Being a part of Greenhouse Interiors team – that was and has been an absolute blessing. Starting the Bigger Picture Project that fundraises for the homeless on the central coast by designing art accessories every 4 months. And working for clients’ “commission work’’ – [it] still blows my mind people want to buy my work.

What is in store for your work – any exciting projects you can share with us? 

Yes wearable art is on its way.. so excited about this. New t-shirts and swimmers are coming so soon now.

What is your big hope and dream for your work?

I would love to one day have a gallery showing that has a theme and story behind it. Something that would exuberate joy and hope to people that walk in.

I would love to one day create a range of collared shirts. That has been a big dream of mine.

And a few final words…

With every brushstroke comes a song

With every daring colour comes a word

With every heart idea comes a dance

That you can’t help but jiggy to;

It’s a beat of simple, joyous wonder.

Bonnie Gray x

See more of the amazing Bonnie Gray on her website and Instagram

Images courtesy of Bonnie Gray 

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