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Destined to Paint

The Self-Taught Art of Bonnie Loggins

by Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder

Bonnie Loggins was born in 1920 in Habersham Co., GA. Bonnie was destined to become a folk artist. Here is her story.

Bonnie grew up on a farm, the fifth of nine children. Her early memories are of sitting on a blanket at the edge of the field with her four younger siblings, while her parents and her older brothers and sisters tended the fields.

It was common practice growing up in the twenties, that every able body had to lend a helping hand. Growing up with so many siblings, did have its rewards. You were never alone and there was always something going on.

However with so many children in the house, gifts of any kind were scarce. Bonnie received one gift when she was about twelve that she has kept to this day. It was a small watercolor kit, a gift from an older brother. Bonnie laughs as she relates the story, "I was not very good with it in fact I remember making quite a mess".

Then Bonnie met "Tarzan" O'brian. They married and in time had two sons. Tarzan was a house painter. One fine day in 1956 he came home and announced that he had received a request for an unusual painting job.

Tarzan had been painting a church, when he was asked if he could paint a picture on a wall in the church. The challenge was exiting and scary at the same time. Tarzan had never done any kind of art but growing up he had watched his father, a plumber, paint pictures.

He was confident that he would be up to the task. A week later Tarzan came home and announced that he could not do it all. Bonnie would have to paint the people in the painting. She was petrified. Lying awake in bed, the only thing she could think of was to pick up her bible and read and pray for help. Miraculously when she woke up, she went to the church, started painting and was able to paint the people in the wall mural.

After this unusual introduction to creating art there was no stopping the pair. Word about their painting abilities spread and Tarzan and Bonnie became quite well known for their large wall murals. Many a church in north Georgia display wall murals that were done by the pair. There was even one very large one, a seventy foot long painting done on sheets of plywood, installed in a Georgia restaurant.

Bonnie had found her destiny; she started to do smaller paintings on her own, first as gifts for friends and family, then for others. Many times through the years the money came in handy covering the groceries for the family of four.

When Bonnie lost Tarzan in 1994 she felt lost and had no desire to continue painting. Before long however, the urge to create took over and Bonnie has been creating new work ever since.

In May of 2012 Bonnie turned 93 and yes she is still painting. Lets show her how much we appreciate her efforts. Good for you Bonnie Loggins. Bonnie is represented by Rosehips Folk Art Gallery.

Text © Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder; Photos Reprinted with Permission

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