“Be moved by wind in your sail and art in your life.” ~ Bonita Leslie
In 1987 Bonita graduated on the Dean's list with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Mt. Allison University and later earned her second degree from Brock University in Adult Education. She also holds a diploma with high honours in Esthetics/Makeup from Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, at which she has taught in the Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design for the past 7 years. "Although I have taught many different courses at Sheridan in Makeup Artistry for Film/ Television, Special Effects and Theatrical Arts, conceptual design has always been the common denominator in these various courses. My main role has been to help very talented and dedicated students learn how to develop their ideas and turn them into creative realities."
Born in St. John's, Newfoundland, Bonita has always felt a connection to the energy of the ocean and the beauty in the relationship between human and nature. Bonita has travelled extensively throughout Canada, USA, Europe and the Caribbean. She has lived in a number of cities across Canada and presently resides in beautiful Niagara on the Lake, Ontario which is her current source of inspiration.
After working several years in advertising and promotions for companies such as Metroland Printing, Publishing & Distribution and Chin International TV/ Radio, she began a creative design/painting company. Bonita has also been involved in projects for The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, The Burlington Art Centre, The Art Gallery of Mississauga, The United Way, Variety House and The Oakville Rotary Club. Her work has been displayed at The Art Gallery of Mississauga and in public spaces across the GTA, such as Pepperwood Bistro, Walker's Fish Market, Big Tomato, La Costa, Rosewood, Rib Eye Jacks, Katz and U Haul. It is also included in the permanent collection at the Owens Art Gallery as well in numerous private collections across Canada and the USA.
Although Bonita enjoys painting and drawing a variety of subjects her work consistently displays elements of movement created by wind and water. Her most recent work is a series of nautical themes in which she explains in the following artist statement; A sailboat consists of three sail types; the mainsail, the headsail, and the spinnaker, all made of canvas but unique in purpose. All three sails are strong and powerful, essential in propelling the sailboat with grace and confidence, even through the most challenging waters; toward its destination. However, without the wind the sails are rendered motionless. Much like the sailboat, I rely on my canvas to move forward on life’s journey.
"We begin to learn from the moment we are born until the moment we die and truth be known, I’m not convinced it ends there. I believe, life is very much like a ride on the ocean; some waves are extremely high and some extremely low with some just coasting along between the swells. Influenced by the force of nature and formed by the wind, each wave is unique offering a different learning experience. Being propelled by the wind of transformative learning, I compare myself to a sailboat as my sails are blown and guided along my journey as an artist, a teacher and life-long learner.
My art is representational but my interpretation is stylized in the way I choose to express my experience. After all, we perceive each moment differently, even if we are sharing the same moment. My intention as an artist is to provoke an emotional response designed to stimulate the senses and provide a deeper understanding of the subject in hopes to create a lasting impression.
I begin my paintings and drawings with conceptual studies of colour, movement and emotional aspects of my ideas. Along with these abstract designs, I use photographs of which some I personally have taken and combine them with images I have collected over the years as references for the final piece. My usual choice of mediums is either acrylic paint on canvas, or chalk pastel on fabriano paper. However, sometimes I use a combination of ink, acrylic, and oil paint for mixed media pieces. These are large, vibrant, energetic paintings and drawings which are suitable for any contemporary space.
My inspiration is the exchange of energy between forces. Whether it’s the human force, the spiritual force, or the force of nature, the dependence on that exchange is powerful, for which I am grateful. I have learned to keep my sails full as I do not want to miss the ride, no matter how rough the water gets."
Artist Website www.bonitaleslieart.ca