Bonny Snowdon lives in the beautiful and historic lands of North Yorkshire, England with wonderful views of North Yorkshire Moors and the White Horse of Kilburn, ( a chalk horse that is 325 feet long and 227 feet high and carved in 1857). While being a full time equine and pet portrait artist, Bonny is also raising her three teenage children and taking care of her two dogs and cat.
North Yorkshire, England
Starting to ride when she was three, she journeyed through her time at her local pony club and studied her BHS exams at the age of 11 at the renowned Yorkshire Riding Centre, home to the Olympic dressage riders Jane Bartle Wilson and Christopher Bartle. A avid rider in dressage competitions well into her late 30s, and one of Bonny’s last competitions she was crowned Reserve Champion Of ROR (retraining of racehorses) at Stoneleigh in 2013. Then, in early 2014 Bonny had a total hip replacement that limited her riding to trails and practice at home, and ultimately ended with her needing to sell her beloved “Elf”, a 18.2hh Trakehener in July 2016. However, Bonny probably didn’t think that her equestrian lifestyle would prepare her for a second career of pet portrait work.
“As a child I just loved horses, I think up to the age of around 10 I was always to be found on my hands and knees galloping round our garden, making jumps out of beer barrels and wine boxes (I grew up above my parent’s Hotel Restaurant). “-Bonny Snowdon
When Bonny was 15 years old, she left school to study Fine Art and design at the local college, with dreams of pursuing a career in Fine Art. “I was expected to forget any fine detail work and had to create big abstract pieces that just didn’t sit right with me. The only time I really exceeded was when we had a three day watercolour class and I was allowed to draw fine details! I remember sitting under old disused railway carriages, trying to draw the underneath and the railway lines on a huge piece of paper – suffice to say after the two years with a very disappointing portfolio, I failed to gain a place to study fine art”.
Now, years after her time at the art college, Bonny has a highly successful art business, mainly through her Facebook page another other online marketing outlets, as well as some shows/exhibits–all thanks to her daughter! For Christmas 2015, her daughter gave her a coloring book and a pack of 12 coloring pencils that started Bonny off onto her new adventure. “That was the start! I become completely obsessed in my colouring books, researching different pencils, working out ways to blend to make the line drawings I was colouring look like real animals”.
Less than six months later, a friend asked her to create a portrait of her dog, who was going to be put to sleep due to old age. “I wasn’t keen, I’ll be honest, I hadn’t drawn anything of my own for 30 years! But I did it, in graphite, and they absolutely loved it”. Suddenly, Bonny was getting a flurry of requests for more more information on her commissions.
“The more I drew of my own pieces, the more I fell in love with the fine detail and of course my beloved coloured pencils! By October 2017 I had so many commissions booked in for Christmas I had to take a chunk of time off work so I could complete them.”
“I was working in a large art gallery at the time, having left my previous job as an international business coach – the amount of time I spent abroad was becoming challenging, especially when I had children doing GCSE and A Levels. My family encouraged me to try and make my art full time, which I did in January 2017. Now at the start of 2018, I have a full commission book covering six months, plans to teach and write tutorials and videos slowly taking shape for my youtube channel.
“Horses will always be my passion, my work is realistic, but I’m striving to add that little bit extra, not just a straight copy from a photograph, I want a more painterly look whilst still looking real, and I want to capture the character of each and every subject I draw. I’m starting to understand the concept of colour, and how important composition is. I consider myself a self taught artist, whatever that means, lol! I’ve taken a couple of workshops to learn different techniques which was really useful, but how I use my pencils and how I create the animals I do comes from the heart and the want to be the best me I can be”.
Since that fateful Christmas morning, Bonny’s hard earned skill has only been growing. Using her talent for good, Bonny has donated several art pieces to The Brooke and Guide Dogs for the Blind. “I have a real need to give something back, I think this goes back to my coaching and the love of being able to help people. The teaching and tutorials also hark back to my coaching career. I have a teaching qualification from the Institute Of Leadership & Management (equivalent to a post graduate degree) and feel very comfortable in that space”.
Bonny Snowdon and was the third and final winner of Art Of The Horse’s January Banner Contest, where she will receive a six month membership to Adeline Halvorson’s artstudioblog.com.