Submitted by: Bonnie Bowen
When lockdown began, 91-year-old Bonnie Bowen began creating daily watercolor paintings in honor of essential workers and those experiencing life during COVID. Sharing her paintings on a Facebook page created by her daughter, Bonnie continues to share her art with over 4,000 followers!
Bonnie was kind enough to answer some questions about her artwork, her experience during the pandemic, which included her diagnosis and recovery from COVID-19, as well as the message she hopes to spread through her experiences and art.
At the start of the pandemic, what inspired you to create your watercolor paintings?
During the first three months of the pandemic I was in Florida; I was expecting my daughter to fly in from Ohio, of course that was cancelled. The paintings were a simple challenge from my daughter Betsy, she asked me to paint a doctor, I did, and she posted it on Facebook. The next day she asked me to paint another nurse, again she posted the painting on Facebook. The days seemed to fly by and towards the end of March my daughter created our own Facebook page; Bonnie Bowen #belikebonnie. I painted life as I knew it: mask makers, the knitters, dog walkers, and the list goes on. Our ever-changing life has been my inspiration.
What was your experience during the nationwide shutdown?
As I mentioned, I was at my home in Florida during the shutdown. I am fortunate enough to have a group of wonderful friends in the community. We made it a point to have dinner each night together. We shared memories and lots of laughs. During the day I painted. One day I had a phone call from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, he called to thank me for my uplifting paintings! He made my day, to think he took the time to call me! Several news channels contacted me and interviewed me via facetime. To me, it is unbelievable that people have been so kind about my “doodles.”
Please describe for us what your experience was like being diagnosed and then recovering from COVID-19?
I was visiting my daughter in Michigan in September when I developed a cough. Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it, just a late summer cold, but as the days went by my symptoms got significantly worse. I was tested for COVID-19 the second week of September; my results came back positive. When you first receive the diagnosis, your immediate reaction is that of shock and fear. The fact that I am 91 years old was very concerning to my doctor. We quarantined in Michigan; my daughter was my nurse making sure that I had everything I needed. COVID-19 is no picnic, it took a solid two weeks from the time I was diagnosed until I felt a little better. A friend of mine asked me how I would describe COVID-19; my response was, I have had four children, I would rather have another child than have COVID-19. I still tire easily but for the most part I am doing great.
Through your experiences of creating art, and dealing with COVID, what message would you like to share with others?
It’s easier to look at the bright side of things. The only time I stopped painting was during the two weeks I was in bed with Covid. It felt wonderful to pick up a paint brush and start painting again. Each day I take a little walk down memory lane, most of my paintings are inspired by my memories. I have enjoyed receiving messages from those who have followed me on Facebook. They inspire me to keep painting every day.
To stay up to date with Bonnie’s amazing paintings on Facebook, visit @belikebonnie.
Click here to read USA Today’s feature article about Bonnie.