Tuesday, May 7, 2013


To begin to talk about myself and my interest and engagement in illustration and art in general, I must first speak about the artist who was most influential in my life, my mother, Kari Bonini-Roma (1937-1996). I know that many artists refer to a parent as their role-model, their biggest fan, their support in early life, but I must spend a moment explaining both the influence and intimidation I felt from my mother and her incredible talent.

Kari Bonini-Roma had raw talent from early in life. Our house was filled with sketches she had done in high school and abstract art she created in the late 50’s in college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We had paintings in the studio (built by my father) on our rural property in northeastern Pennsylvania. My mother was a renaissance woman, someone who had a fantastic garden, was an incredible cook and managed to create an atmosphere that encouraged engagement in everything around us. She supplied various types of art materials for us kids, and kept a very open mind about approaches to art and its creation. She gave us assignments that are found in books like Salvador Dali’s, The Secret life of Salvador Dali, where one draws the reflection of an image in a mirror. She encouraged us to use unusual materials and explore their potential and possibilities.

My mother could draw almost anything, and draw it well. You can see true talent when someone can draw a human body in all positions correctly and without distortion, can draw hands and feet like DaVinci, and draw the horses and architecture equally as well. She knew anatomy and could draw virtually any animal on the planet, which is why for several years throughout the 1980’s, the Phoenix zoo used mom’s services for their signage and artwork throughout the zoo – including their logo and entry billboard. In the early 1960’s, she taught figure drawing and painting at Harper College, SUNY Binghamton. In the 1970’s, she was a medical illustrator for the nursing program at Broome Community College and created all the artwork for their teaching program on the human body. In the 1980’s, she lived in Arizona where she did architectural renderings for several developers, as well as  fine art portraits of Native American Indians and western landscapes. My mother was a creative force with a depth and breadth of talent that was both breathtaking and intimidating for a budding artist. As a young child, I was acutely aware of her range of abilities, so much so that I feared becoming an artist. It seemed like magic to watch her paint, and I felt no such force overtake me when I drew. Her processes were so innate that it seemed like a foreign entity took hold of her when she worked. Maybe she was channeling a Wyeth or Rockwell. She was also comfortable painting in many different styles.

When you have an accomplished mother who can tackle any assignment with grace, it is incredibly difficult not to compare your talents with hers. I wish I could show her my work. She always loved to see it and give constructive feedback or give me pointers on how to approach a project. I loved that, and I miss it, almost as much as I miss her.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Loolie Blue 200?-2011

Loolie aka Callie.

Sometimes a cat comes into your life to teach you how to live. They show you how to love, they show you how to stay in the moment - and how to ask for what you need and not one bit more. Just what you need. They teach you how to accept the love that is given to you - and how to ask for love that is waiting in the wings. Loolie taught me more in her brief period here than many people have managed to do by sheer force. She knew how to enjoy life and let things roll off her back. Loolie was never aggressive, and passively taught people to bow to her every whim by the sheer good nature of her smile and the offering of a soft belly. Admirable behavior for a calico.

Loolie was born in a section 8 house on Brookside - sometime around 2002 or so. She had a litter of kittens on her first heat that somehow disappeared without a trace. Loolie managed to move on rather easily from what could have been a traumatizing life event to grab a life that she envisioned in her remaining time here. The family who owned Loolie moved out unexpectedly on Christmas eve and the young son came and took Loolie off my porch, where she had grown accustomed to staying and finding food on a regular basis, to travel with them to their new home. Twenty four hours after the family had moved, Loolie appeared back on my porch - which made me extremely happy. After a trip to the vet to get her fixed, my cats didn't want her in the house, so she lived outside where she had been living much of the time. We decided to name her Loolie, after a relative of Marian's. We made a cat house with a wool sweater bed and she stayed there most nights. But ultimately, Loolie wanted a house where she could be an only cat, have her basic needs met, and perhaps some decadent ones too. She found that in the home of Karen Doepke, my next door neighbor and friend. Karen treated Loolie, or Callie as Karen called her, like the queen that she was... half & half cream filled breakfasts, caviar lunches and filet mignon dinners. Loolie was no fool - she'd found herself a good home where she could have a wild time and also nurturing and love.

Neighborhood cats are definitely the best. They see and experience everything. They bask in all the greatness of communal living, and yet manage to be the bridge we all need to encourage us to connect. Loolie probably had many homes that spoiled her, and she deserved every one. She was a serious cat, but just as much a very playful cat too. She loved chasing a wandering stick or a bouncing string and like any cat that still has instinct intact, she sacrificed an occasional bird. Loolie had a kind light in her sweet eyes, an understated beauty in her little body and a gentle spirit that could be a model for all of us. I will miss her immensely. Miss her walking the first part of the block with Maggie and me, miss her meeting me at my car - playing games through the hole in my gate, and reminding Maggie with a simple look, exactly who ruled this roost called my porch. She died a peaceful, quiet death after a battle with kidney disease. She is survived by her two favorite admirers, Karen and Ursula, and also Merle, who loved Loolie despite her admiration of the many birds at the feeders, and all of the other admirers she had in our neighborhood who will go unnamed but know who they are. She has gone on to the land of everlasting curiosity...and our street will not be the same without her.

By Loosie bluesie...love you.

Friday, September 16, 2011