COLUMBUS, Ohio — Whimsical art can make anyone smile, but for local artist Bonnie Bowen, it’s doing much more.
Bowen’s fun paintings have a deeper story behind them, now helping others get through a tough year.
Born and raised in Columbus, she started painting in the third grade, Bowen said.
But it’s when the shutdown began here in Ohio, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, that the now 91-year-old began painting for a new reason.
At the suggestion of her daughter Betsy, Bonnie decided to paint a water color each day of the shutdown, beginning with tributes to first responders like doctors, nurses, law enforcement and postal workers.
Since the start, her art has gone viral, inspiring the hashtag, #BeLikeBonnie, and even catching the eye of Gov. Mike DeWine himself.
“I just think it’s really amazing. I never dreamed that this would happen to me,” Bowen said. “And it is fun to see what people have done and what people have responded to me. And I just think it’s fun to make people smile so I hope that’s what I’m achieving.”
But recently, COVID-19 hit close to home for Bowen, who at 91, was diagnosed with the virus on Sept. 6.
She said what initially felt like a bad cold, turned into something much worse.
“To me, it was like a really bad case of the flu. I ached all over and I really, I just don’t think I’ve ever felt any worse than I did then,” she said. “Childbirth was nothing in comparison to the COVID. But it was just really quite an experience and I’m just really fortunate that I came out of it as well as I did.”
On the mend, Bowen is back home and tells 10TV she continues to experience some fatigue but she’s doing much better.
“I don't really have any after effects except getting tired a little bit, but that just comes along with it and it will go away,” she said. “That's what's really exciting is I've gotten well. I feel good so there's hope for a lot of people – if I can make it at 91, so can they.”
Now Bowen is back to bringing her creativity to life through her daily water colors, working up ways to get them out to her now many fans.
In the works is a new calendar featuring Bowen’s water colors, as well as masks, coffee cups, canvases and more.
Follow along on her journey and learn more about purchasing items with Bowen’s art by clicking here.