Bonnie Katz is an art teacher and mixed-media artist working with paints, ceramics and paper. Her artwork includes images from her home and surroundings, and she knows when a work is done when it appears and feels “familiar” and “like home” to her. 

Artist Bonnie Katz. Credit: John Herron

Katz works in a range of media and makes images of similar subject matter in each.

She creates images of rabbits and squirrels she observes in her backyard. She also creates images of interior scenes based on furnishings and other objects in her home. 

A primary medium for Katz is clay, with which she makes ceramic vessels and baskets sculpted with image(s) and three-dimensional objects. Her other common media are paint and/or dry graphic powder used to create images on paper. 

Interior #2, 16” x 20” oil on canvas and charcoal. Credit: Bonnie Katz

While her images come from around her home, she creates her artwork at a Noyes Cultural Center studio. Katz is a morning person who draws and paints for three to four hours at a time. Her painting process requires her to make constant decisions and is more tiring. However, when creating ceramic art, she works much longer in a single session and can also work on several similar images and/or vessels which are in different stages of drying.

In every case, Katz starts a new work by drawing many sketches, which she redraws over and over until a well-done sketch gives her that warm, familiar feeling. Her sketches are usually drawn on newsprint. Only when she has a sketch suitable to create a final work will she switch to the final canvas. 

On ceramic pieces, she creates a unique but plain vessel when needed for the work. Then she cuts out the sketched image to be used as a stencil. Katz then places the image positive on a clay slab and cuts the shape out of the slab. She then uses some slip – clay mixed with water that acts like a glue – to affix the clay cutout to the vessel. Then while it’s still pliable, she pinches and pokes at the clay to give it some lifelike features. 

Group of clay animal figures, about 4” x 4”, by Bonnie Katz. Credit: Socorro Mucino

When working on canvas, Katz will use a cutout image in one of two ways for different effects. For the first, she lays the positive stencil on the canvas. Next, she sprinkles dry graphite around the edge of the stencil and smudges the graphite outward from the stencil onto the canvas with her fingers. 

For the second effect, she places the negative stencil on the canvas, sprinkles the dry graphite around the exposed part of the canvas, and smudges it around to create image detail. So, with a single image, Katz has three different possible uses in two different media.

With her canvas-based creations, she might also work with paints to add detail in addition to the dry graphite.

A piece is final when Katz feels that pleasing familiarity. Then she uses the same topic in various ways to create a series of eight to 10 complementary works. Once the series is ready, she likes to live with it and keeps it around the studio for a while. Finally, she takes the works to a photographer to create photos for sharing via social media or her website. 

If you would like to see more of Bonnie Katz’s artwork or learn more about her background, other types of art and the courses she teaches, visit her website at www.Bonniejkatz.com or her Evanston Made page. Her next local show of work will be at the Evanston Art Center in April.

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham retired from the business world and is now enjoying the next phase, including writing about local artists to increase awareness of Evanston’s amazing art community.

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