Precious Objects

December 12, 2017

Precious Objects

8 x 8″ Watercolor and Ink on Claybord

Cherished physical objects often become heirlooms. As such, they are frequently  passed down from generation to generation, finding different uses and meaning over time.


Coming Unstrung

December 8, 2017

Coming Unstrung

8 x 8″ Watercolor and Ink on Claybord

Trade beads originate from all “corners” of the Earth. Some were then strung and others remained unstrung.  This again offers opportunity for metaphor…


November 17, 2017


8 x 8″ Watercolor and Ink on Claybord

This painting represents the continual circulation of goods as they move from continent to another.  Trade beads historically functioned as a form of international currency and to some extent, because of their continued desirability, they continue to do so. This painting is currently available at Prairie Edge Gallery in Rapid City, South Dakota.  Check out their website, as well as the upcoming Artists of the Black Hills miniature show (where I will of course, have a nice selection of bead paintings!)


Foreign Currency II

September 20, 2017

Foreign Currency II 24 x 36 WC on Clayboard 13Foreign Currency II

24 x 36″ Watercolor on Ampersand Claybord

This is a favorite painting of mine, because of the lively and complex composition.  Don’t even ask me how long it took me to paint this piece: I couldn’t possibly guess!  My creativity style is to work on a series of paintings instead of just one painting at a time.  That allows me to not get tired of a piece and rush through it: but instead, I shift from one painting to another as my time and energy allows. This gives me opportunity to “live with” an artwork and decided next steps that I will take during the painting process.  With my trade bead series of paintings, this reflection time sometimes it even helps me determine which direction the painting should be viewed! This series of work is my Rendezvous collection: rendezvous coming from a French word brought to the Plains, meaning to come together. During the rendezvous, trappers, traders, and Native Americans would meet annually to exchange goods, stories, and culture.  This painting’s title comes from the fact that the goods traded were a form of foreign currency in this global trade scenario.

Thread of Trade

September 18, 2017

Thread of Trade BlogThread of Trade

12″ x 36″ Watercolor on Ampersand Claybord

The first bead paintings I did were inspired by glass trade beads hanging vertically at an outdoor rendezvous festival that I visited in Riverton, Wyoming. The rendezvous is held annually at the same site that was first established in 1838.  See their website for more about this very unique experience:

The trade beads I saw there have continued to impact my work: the magical glassy quality that was amplified by the sunlight shining through them continues to capture my imagination.  The history of trade contributes in large part to my current paintings, as I look at global trade from a contemporary perspective.


The Fashion Trade

September 14, 2017

The Fashion Trade 24x26 WC on Clayboard 12The Fashion Trade

24 x 36″ Watercolor on Claybord

I find it fascinating that much historic trade between cultures was driven by fashion and luxury goods, as it continues to be today.  Consider that as the early trapper/traders came over to the “New World”, beaver skin hats and other goods made from the fur became the height of fashion. Items from Europe such as copper pots, metal knives, and trade beads were highly desirable to the Native Americans, and thus trade was established.  Beads were highly desirable as trade goods because the technology for making them was confined to very few countries and was highly guarded. Thus, this painting prompts thoughts about how human’s desire for fashion and adornment was something that drove early trade practices and contributed to the intersection of cultures. Trade in fashion and resources where items are manufactured continues to shape today’s global trade.


September 8, 2017

e Heat 8x8 WC on Claybd 15 copy“Heat”

8 x 8” Watercolor and Ink on Claybord

Something precious and beautiful created through heat and fire.  Like life itself.  Glass Trade Beads provide me with a motif to examine global trade as well as my life experiences.

Cultural Connection

September 6, 2017

e Cultural Connections 36x24 WC on Claybd 2015“Cultural Connection”

24 x 36” Watercolor and Ink on Claybord

A broad expanse of ocean connects continents and cultures. The human race is not as divided and different as we may believe. This is one of my favorite of my paintings thus far, because it shows peaceful tranquility along with the imagined found treasure that may have emanated from another culture. The threads of innovation from across the ocean  are presented to me upon my home shore. 

Left Behind

September 5, 2017

e Left Behind 6x6 WC on Claybd 15“Left Behind”

6 x 6” Watercolor on Clayboard

What is lost from sight is often left behind. Yet, what has been discarded and forgotten can be once again rediscovered and reinterpreted.  That is what intrigues me about artifacts from the past: they hold history. History often contains many sides to a story, and it is important to realize that only some perspectives are presented in the recording and retelling of history. 

Lost and Found II

August 30, 2017

e Lost and Found II WC on Claybd 15“Lost and Found II”

11 x 14” Watercolor and Ink on Ampersand Claybord

Stillness mixed with the roar of the surf coming in: look for treasure in life’s simple gifts.  This image is inspiration for a triptych I am currently working on.  I am drawn to the idea of something that was lost and once again found.

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© Bonnie Halsey Dutton - All artwork is copywrited by the artist. Images may not be reproduced without the permission of the artist.