Welcome, Raymond Bonilla

We’re thrilled to welcome New York-based artist, Raymond Bonilla, to Principle Gallery! Ray’s work employs the traditional approach to color and form while incorporating inspiration from the impressionists and abstraction. Today, we’re going to give you a proper introduction and mini interview with the artist.

We also wanted to take a moment and congratulate Ray and his wife on their beautiful baby girl! We’re so happy for you both!

“Tuesday/Thursday” 16 x 20, oil on panel

Raymond Bonilla is a nationally recognized illustrator and fine artist in Buffalo, NY. Raymond graduated from the State University in New York at Fredonia in 2005 with a degree in New Media and Illustration. He continued his studies at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he completed his MFA in 2009. He was awarded Best in Show in the Great Lakes Emerging Artist Competition, was a finalist in the Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition, has been awarded Gold Medals in advertising from both Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles, and juried into the Communication Arts Illustration Annual. He currently lives in Buffalo, New York where he spends his time painting and teaching part-time at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Artist Statement

“My interest in painting and animation lies in the role of an “illustrator as a visual journalist” and the subject of memory. While painting and animation have approaches and aesthetics that may be unique to themselves, at their core these disciplines both allow artists the ability to document the human experience. My art is rooted in the influences of impressionist painters, illustrators, and animators of the 19th and 20th centuries. In my work I use an artistic language that is deeply rooted in the visual vocabulary of figurative and abstract art of the past. From these, I take the traditional artistic tools of color and form, which allow me to immerse viewers in my pictures, allowing those viewers to appreciate my work both for its literal and abstract qualities. I strive to create art that records my observation of the world around me, whether it be a direct observation or a statement of internal reflection. Ultimately, I seek to make work that is a “visual journal” of the human condition.”

“First Harvest” 18 x 24, oil on panel
Interview with Raymond Bonilla

Can you tell us about your show Live Brush? How did it begin?

Live Brush came together because my friend and co-host had studied together in Grad School both had wanted to hang out more together and talk about art making and movies. Combine that with our producer Kate Welch’s idea to make it a live stream and you have Live Brush. It’s a really great way for Tyler and I to interact with fellow artists, students, and art appreciators while having fun painting things that we love.

How did your involvement with SmArt School begin?

My involvement with SmART School began last year after my friend (and incredible artist) Sam Weber recommended me to them to be an instructor. This year will be my second year with them and I couldn’t be happier. They’ve got something special going on there and I am honored to be apart of it.

At the beginning of your career, what was the best piece of advice you were given? Who gave it to you? 

I think one piece of advice that always came back to me was from Donato Giancola who told me “the first year out of art school will be the hardest year of you life.” And boy was he right! I think knowing that it would be prepared me mentally for the life-long uphill climb that is the career of a professional artist.

What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career as an artist?

Get good training and constantly work to be a better artist than you were the day before. In many ways, art is a lifestyle rather than a “job.”

To what extent do you use photographs as reference material?

I use photographs quite a bit. Photographs are a great way to capture fleeting things light and color. However, I do a lot of work to the photograph before it gets used to inform a painting and I rely heavily on my experiences painting directly from life in order to deliver a painting as close to as I remembered it.

You refer to your work as “a visual journal of the human condition,” how did this concept develop? Was that always the intention of your work or has it progressed alongside your career?

The concept developed after studying the work of Reportage illustrators like Robert Weaver and painters like Andrew Wyeth. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of telling stories since I was a small child. In my family, there is definitely a value based on an individual  that could tell a good story that would captivate the listeners. Combing that with my interest Howard Pyle’s idea of painting what you know and Charles Hawthorne’s idea of painting the unremarkable, remarkably; I develop that concept. 

I know your work draws influence from 19th and 20th century impressionists, which individuals do you pull your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from so many of those artists that it is hard to choose. A few of them are : Andrew Wyeth, Charles Hawthorne, Dean Cornwell, Haddon Sundbolm, Harvey Dunn, Thomas Blackshear, Ceclia Beaux, John Singer Sargent and Diego Velazquez.

If you could time travel and witness an artist create their masterpiece, which work would you choose?

So hard to choose! I would have loved to Watch Haddon Sunblom paint his piece “A Couple ” , Diego Velazquez paint “ Apollo in the forge of Vulcan , or John Singer Sargent paint his 1906 self portrait. 

How do you prepare yourself for a day at the easel? Do you have any pre-painting rituals or routines?

Morning workout, a big breakfast, and coffee are the ideal combination. I like to get to the studio as soon as possible int he mornings. However that might change with having a child in my life. 

Do you have any superstitions when it comes to your artwork/creative process?

I had to think long and hard about this. If I had to call anything a “superstition” it would be that I always send my wife a picture of my signature on a piece once I sign it.

Do you listen to music while you paint? If so, what do you typically listen to?

Yes, I listen to music at times when I work. Any variety of Jazz, Rock, and Funk are in rotation while I am painting.

Click here to view Ray’s work on our website!
“York St.” 18 x 24, acrylic on panel
Upcoming Exhibition Schedule
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Gallery Hours:

Monday: 12pm – 5pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday: 10am – 6pm
Friday & Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm