With a compassionate heart, Bonnie Kiefer has made it her purpose to memorialize beloved pets through her beautifully executed sculptures. Her lifelike miniatures are a tribute to those amazing furry friends that fill our lives with unconditional love. Read on to find out what drives this animal inspired pet-portrait artist to create her masterful works of art.
Pets have been my best friends and like family to me my whole life. I enjoy sculpting people’s beloved pets because I know firsthand what they mean in our lives and how truly special each of them are to us.
I work with a non-toxic, extremely durable polymer clay. Most of my sculptures are put on some kind of wooden base or plaque and some sculptures require strong internal structures (armatures). When the sculpting phase is over, the sculpture is bonded to its base and primed for painting. I airbrush most of the sculpture in layers with an acrylic paint to create life-like coloring and then hand paint all of the fine details. When the sculpture is completely dry, I apply a coat of varnish.
My beloved Ariel was a black and white purebred Border Collie I bought as a 6 week old puppy. I did not want a dog at the time, but when I locked eyes with her, I think we both knew we were meant for each other. She was my best friend for 15 years. Words cannot express our bond and dedication to each other and I still sense her by my side to this day. I am an active equestrienne and have shown horses since a youth rider. I have owned several show horses over the years but I would like to mention “Quincy” who to me was the most perfect and special horse. She was an absolutely stunning bay Quarter Horse mare that I raised, trained and successfully showed for many years.
I must have been born with a pencil in my hand! I grew up drawing with just a regular pencil and sometimes I painted. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s when I started sculpting and around that same time I was given an airbrush kit as a gift and have been airbrushing and
hand painting my sculptures ever since. I think the ability to create art just comes natural for me. I never had any formal training in traditional art (except for a few elective art classes in middle and high school). In 2008 when the economy took a dive, I attended a digital art school and graduated in 2011. I feel fortunate to now have a good balance of traditional and digital art skills.
This is a very tough question, because I become emotionally connected to each piece of art that I create. Sometimes I start a sculpture that does not work out. I used to throw those pieces away but they have become special to me now for some reason. They are awkward and strange looking, but they have their own “souls” and are so unique, so I now keep them and have started a “misfit collection”. There are also personal pieces of artwork I will never part with for any amount of money, such as the pencil drawing I did for my Mother of her favorite picture of my brother in a trench coat, or the pencil drawing I did back in 1980 of Ozzy Osbourne who signed it for me a few years later when I brought it to him at a fan meet. He looked at it and said out loud “THIS IS (BLEEPIN’) GOOD!”
If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
I would be a horse…They are so regal, graceful, talented, athletic and versatile. I would just hope that someone would take care of me the way I take care of my own horses, I would be totally pampered and treated like a Queen!
I love Snoopy, plus I love all Disney movies and songs with pets & animals. There will always be a special place in my heart for the song “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey.
Mickey Mouse of course. I live next to the Mouse and I LOVE IT. I love the Beast from Beauty & The Beast and also Snoopy.
Trust, honesty and always non conditional love!
I don’t have a (specific) charity or group but I have saved and/or rehabbed many horses and dogs during my life. One day I would like to be a senior dog caretaker to old dogs that people give up once they have aged or become too expensive. I would like to help them with whatever they need for their senior care, keep them happy and comfortable and then be there for them when they pass away.
There are so many pet owners out there who want a way to always keep their pet close to them, whether the pet is alive or has passed on. I am helping so many pet owners by creating replicas of their beloved pet. It warms my heart to see how much it truly means to them.
You can find more of Bonnie's work on her website at:
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