Bonnie Marris has taken her own path into art. She developed her talent
by portraying animals from the inside out. While a student at Michigan
State University, Bonnie illustrated several major books, including one
mammology text by a leading expert in the field. The book contained several
hundred drawings and detail studies. The massive project attracted the
attention of noted zoologist, George Schaller, who invited Bonnie to
prepare the art for a poster that would support his world wide rare animal
As any wildlife enthusiast will tell you; accuracy is not enough. Art
demands more than a coldly accurate rendering. In Bonnie's case, it was
emotion that drew her into wildlife art. At the age of two she would
spend hours in front of the wolf cage at the zoo, totally fascinated
by animals. Beyond academic training and emotional involvement, there
lies that proverbial element for which there is no substitute experience.
Bonnie makes two major field trips a year and countless smaller ones.
During 1980, Bonnie lived in the Alaskan wilderness for a period of six
months. She recounts it. "To get into natural environment and see
the animals on their own terms is as important as knowing the animals
themselves. For instance, gray wolves on the tundra... the vast, vast
tundra with the wind and forces of nature at their most extreme. That's
what makes them what they are. To stand not far from a grizzly that is
so overpowering, so beautiful and so large... to watch it pull up a small
tree with a swipe of its paw, and just a few minutes latter see it delicately
picking blueberries with its black lips. Alaska changed me... it gave
me the biggest incentive to paint, and increased my interest in the predators;
the cats, bear, coyote, wolves and fox. They exist on so many different
levels. Their moods show in their eyes. We can learn so much from them."
Bonnie has lived Michigan all her life. She and her husband, Woody,
have a farm with two dogs and three horses.