Bonnie Burt 1

A Local Artist

Bonnie Burt adds some detail to the painting in front of her, the latest in her “beach series.” To one side in her spacious studio is a potter’s wheel. To the other, a table with a watercolor in progress. Behind her, on an easel, is a landscape.

“My work is varied,” she says with a laugh. “I jump around a lot.”

The studio, which takes up most of the lower area of her Roanoke County home, gives her that opportunity. She and her husband, Steve, built it six-and-a-half years ago. The Pittsburgh native moved here when he took a job with Carilion. They lived here for 25 years before moving to the Washington, D.C. area—only to discover they wanted to come back. They had owned the land off Bent Mountain Road and decided to build there. She credits Steve with being the emotional support behind her art.

Burt originally was a figurative artist, which, she says moved into knowing the gracefulness of pottery. She’s done some simple sculpture and would like to do more. She’s been a potter for about 10 years. She calls it “tangible” and likes having her hands in the mud and earth—she’s also a gardener.

“I like taking a mound of clay and creating something beautiful and functional,” she says. “Every day is a clay day.”

Painting, she says, involves more problem-solving.

“I want to do more painting. I dream about, think about colors.”

She’s currently working on the beach series, fascinated by the way “the colors change with every tide.” She also emulates the beach in her pottery glazes.

She still does figures and nudes but does a lot of work with nature. She draws the figures from life but uses photographs for the nature paintings. In addition to paints, Burt does collages.

“I love the abstract quality.”

Burt works in a three-dimensional medium—clay—but also in the two-dimensional world of painting.

“The challenge is to take 3-D and put it on the canvas,” she says.

She says a Hollins University professor, Jack Beal, taught her to “get past the picture plane.”

She draws on nature—which surrounds her—for inspiration, but also looks inward.

“It’s a part of my soul; being in touch with the creator, with my soul.” She sums it up: “I think truly it is nature, but also the endless possibilities.”