the encaustic center

580 W. Arapaho Rd. #271, Richardson, Texas, 75080


Would you like fresh Eyes on your work?

Email Critiques-Consultations

Virtual One-on-One Demos and Studio Visits

offer a wide range of options to help focus your vision, sharpen your skills and bring work to fruition. Consultations are an important dialog for artists, vital to development - at all levels. Lets build on your strengths moving forward.

All Media Welcome

These sessions will be individualized to best fit your needs and interests which may combine a number of approaches.

A few options we can work on, in any combination:

  1. Building a consistent yet evolving body of work. I’ll be looking at your work via emailed images and or virtual visits. We’ll discuss your interests, brainstorm ideas and I’ll be offering a number of next steps. Our discussion may include any number of things including particular techniques, materials, exercises, art and artists to explore, info on your areas to develop and more. From our discussion, I can send references, links, and notes based on our talk. We can then meet back to look at your work as you progress.
  2. Ways to resolve issues on a particular piece or pieces including color, perspective, concept, composition, harmony, balance, tone, types of strokes, texture and more. Send images of your piece(s) and let me know, in your email, as best you can, your thoughts, what areas you're struggling with and where you are hoping to go with the piece(s). If you don't know, that's fine too, just send the pic(s). We can have a brief phone call about your thoughts and the works and I will then send the piece(s) back to you with notes on areas that can be enhanced or changed with ways to resolve the issues along with reference images and links. Furthermore, we can do follow-ups as needed. We may also decide to do some work virtually.
  3. Virtual Demos on any technique or medium -
    Oil painting - Mixed media - Encaustic - Acrylic panting - Ink on Yupo
    Demos can be on a range of topics including:
    Abstract painting, color mixing, composition, perspective, concept, harmony, balance, tone, types of strokes, texture, types of brushes, monotypes, layers, incising, smooth surfaces, types of paper, collage and more.

A few pics from previous crits and demos

Virtual sessions are $100.00 per hour

Let's get started:

Send a picture or pictures of what you're working on via email to or Images should be at least 1MB. (details on sending images below)

I will email back with an estimate of time and costs and we can have a brief phone call to clarify the best approach options ie: email crit, virtual demo or virtual studio visit (or some combination).

At this point; payment can be made.

From here, we will set up your demo or virtual visit and or I will send the detailed pdf on your work including notes on areas that can be enhanced or changed with ways to resolve the issues.

As a follow up, once you've made some changes, you can send a pic and we'll plan a 15 minute call or 2nd email mock up - $20.00 on the piece's progress.

Send your image(s) via email to or

Payment Options:

  • via Zelle to
  • Request a PayPal invoice from me.
  • via PayPal by logging into PayPal and sending your payment to or Be sure to cut and paste the email address if you are sending directly.
  • By credit card; call Bonny at 214.405.5993
  • By check to: The Encaustic Center, 580 W Arapaho Rd. #271, Richardson, TX, 75080
    The Bonny Studio 580 W.Arapaho Rd. #262, Richardson, TX. 75080

Included in the consultations is a pdf on composition and abstraction which applies to representational work as well. Be sure to ask for your copy when you sign up!

Photographing and sending your images:

Shoot your pieces with the highest image setting in your camera possible (check your settings) and hold the camera very still by tripod or resting it somewhere. If you hand hold, that’s fine too but any way you do it; putting the setting on 2 second delay is very helpful in stabilizing after you hit the button to shoot. Please send the pics one per email. If the images compress, we may have to use my Dropbox but let’s start with this and see if it works.


I have been a student of Bonny’s for the past three years. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that I would be doing the kind of work that Bonny has not only been teaching me how to do, but actively encourages. Whether I do a painting at the studio or on my own,

I challenge myself constantly by asking “What would Bonny say about this?” Bonny is always looking for the “Wow factor” and if my paintings don’t have that, I know it and I am confident that Bonny will know exactly how to guide me to that.

I am so happy that she is offering critiques online during the pandemic! I recently sent her two paintings I did on my own. One was almost finished but wasn’t quite there yet. With her keen eye and amazing ability articulate exactly what to do, I was able to make

the changes and call it “done” after one more short sitting. The other was in the beginning stages and with a few examples by other artists, she helped me to see the possibilities of what I might do and I have been working towards that. She’s the best and I am so grateful for her talent, vision and expertise.

Theresa Bell

I appreciate Bonny's willingness to work with me from the very beginning of a project. I had photos I wanted to use for painting inspiration, but I was uncertain about cropping to the

best composition. I sent Bonny 8 photos, and she put them in the order she thought would work best for a painting. Then she zoomed, cropped, erased elements, and even duplicated some elements to balance the composition--all the while explaining why these edits resulted in a better composition. Additionally, she sent links to artists and styles that she thought would help me develop my own style for these works. Now I am ready to practice sketching for another round of critiques, and then on to painting. What a great opportunity to have this focused attention.

Bonnie Tollefson

Working with Bonny is a delight! In my personal journey with painting, I am quick to cast self-judgement and toss up my brushes. After just a couple sessions, my confidence was transformed along with my desire to persevere in learning. She has a knack at quickly identifying strengths and encouraging exercises to build skills all the while helping me stay true to my personal style.

Amy Perkins

I went to Bonny for help on several pieces that I was working on. One especially had me stumped. I appreciated the amount of time and thought she put into helping me. Not only did she give suggestions that got me over the hump, but I learned more about composition and color in the process. I have always appreciated that Bonny doesn’t try to force me into a specific box, but because her understanding is so broad, she encourages me to work within my own style.

Julie Beth Wileman

Thank you and please be in touch!

The Bonny Studio Classes:

580 W.Arapaho Rd. #262

Richardson, TX. 75080



The Encaustic Center:

580 W.Arapaho Rd. #271

Richardson, TX. 75080



Bonny Leibowitz




Enjoy a few crits below!

Many thanks and I look forward to assisting you! Bonny

Critique for Julie:

Julie's original painting:

Edited: Julie was concerned with the shape of the "straight" cloud on the top:

My suggestions:

1 widen the cloud to break up the otherwise straight sky hole … this should give you enough variation in size and form

2 play back and forth with the edges between the deep purple blue cloud and the yellow / oranges to overlay one another … this will enhance the sense of distance.

3 Deepen some of this area in varied ways

4 – I did not do this on the sample above but theses purples can be muted a bit and made more irregular .. and made to recede a bit more, especially the bottom purple “finger”. An alternative would be to deepen from these darks into the rest of the cloud but I think muting this area might be best.

Julie's (amazing) finished work from the suggestions:



Critique for Amy Perkins:


Amy's photo she is working from:



Amy's painting from the photo:



It seemed curious to me, why the figure didn’t really feel like she was sitting in the chair but sort of floating. I saw the legs were too long from the hip to the knee but wanted to see more. There is a tendency in figure drawing to make the figure too upright and not see the surprising proportions that actually exist due to foreshortening. We are, creating an illusion of depth on a 2-d surface and to do that, convincingly, we need the proportions, tonal variations and color shifts to all work together to meet the mind’s expectations. While I’m not a big fan of tracing, I felt we could see a lot of what’s going on by doing just that:



Here I grey scaled the image so the lines I made by tracing the figure in Photoshop from your photo and placing on top would help us see what’s off. You can see where the knee actually ends and the shin ends etc and where the lines say they should be. I dotted a few of the old liked so we can see where it’s off in a clearer way:



I then did this with white lines so we could see it on the painting with color:



The bigger question is how much does this matter? If we are abstracting the figure to give a particular feel, proportions mean a very different thing than if we are attempting to get proportions more “accurate” but they’re off and feel uncomfortable. The eye can tell the difference. Even in very abstracted work, one can feel the confidence of paint application, exaggerated features and mood consistent with the story. See a few references below:


Richard Diebenkorn


Richard Diebenkorn

Alice Neel




From what I can see, you are wanting “believable”, convincing figurative work that feels free, colorful and spontaneous to describe mood and a personal “story” or reflection of self. Doing more figure drawing can be of great value. I would suggest setting up a big mirror and some large inexpensive newsprint paper on an easel and doing some drawing from your image. Give yourself a challenge to fill the paper up in 15 minutes then go to another sheet and another over and over till your gestures start to feel familiar and free. Analyze the works and or send them to me. Try to not get bogged down in perfect - there’s no such thing – alternatively, everything is perfect as it is but that doesn’t mean we can’t become more skilled at expressing who we are in a bigger way. Be strict on this time limit. Do 10 or so and let me take a look. If you have a model, great but if not, use you your own image in the mirror, not a photo. Then we’ll talk about the drawings and translating the actions into painting and discuss color choice and environment etc.



Critique for JN:


JN's original: This crit deals more with brainstorming around concepts:



To JN: I love the color here, the charcoal background especially. I Immediately thought of Dubuffet – images below. I then contemplated how you could push the tension with size relationships and made the one below in Photoshop.



Shifts in scale can really change up the entire story.



I then rotated the piece and saw this great relationship… and faces! Suddenly, there’s a bigger story!



I then went back to the original and rotated it… Whoa … there’s a conversation!




Once I sat with this piece for a while, I started finding a lot of alluring qualities and then playing with it sparked some really great ah-ha moments! I hope the twists and turns I made with this one prove valuable for you moving forward – shifts in scale and shits in orientation.



Critique for Kathy Aldridge:



I find this piece really interesting in that it seems to be a painting “OF” a sculpture – perhaps at a lake. The bottom feels like a base to hold the other pieces up. There’s a lyrical quality but it’s not silly or funny. The shapes are suggestive, especially the yellow one. Organic and rigid all at the same time. Topsy Turvy but balanced.



Here, I emphasized the idea of the base.


I’m seeing lots of references you can take a deeper dive into:


Wassily Kandinsky

Frank Stella

Elizabeth Murray


(A few images below)



Based on our fb video conversation, you were trying to decide to go with the white background or the color as above. I would encourage you to continue using the strokes and colors in the background as you did with the first piece as opposed the white background. Once you do the background, you’ll have to see how these pieces work with it and make any adjustments necessary. We could meet back up at that point.



Again, I am emphasizing the base so you can keep it in mind moving forward. I like the little opening you left for us to engage within the shapes.


So here are your take aways:

1. As you mentioned, doing a series of 20x20’s based on this theme / approach. Then, consider going larger.

2. A background that’s “water” based – stripes with your additive / subtractive methods keeping the idea that these applied shapes are both Topsy Turvy and stable and possibly in relation to a “base” but not too forced, let it happen as it needs to.

3. Do some research into the artists and what their work is about. See if you connect with their concepts. If not, fine; Can you define some of your favorite moments that drive you to make this work? That will help you as you navigate your path moving forward…. Even though that path will take many shapes along the way.




Elizabeth Murray


Elizabeth Murray


Elizabeth Murray


Frank Stella


Wassily Kandinsky



Critique for Julie Wileman:



Original work in progress - this is the painting Julie wanted some insight around.



I decided to greyscale this one so we could see where the value range is off.



Notice the high key darks which are out of the value range with the rest of the painting.



Here was my overall crit:


#1 The blue seems too intense – intense color is fine but the entire palette would need to shift to high key for this to work so I suggest pulling back on the intensity.


#2 This blue feels out of place and doesn’t appear as a sky hole to what’s behind, the strokes are too linear. They seem to just sit on top as opposed to connect to their surrounds.


#3 this section seems too straight across left to right and can be broken up as shown in the adjusted image bellow… see the right hand corner especially.


#4 the wine/burgundy color seems too intense – see greyscale.


#5 Consider breaking this area up as in the adjusted mock up below



I adjusted the shapes (circled below) for a more harmonious composition - Julie was concerned with the shape of the cloud so this adjusted shape resolves the compositional issues.




Critique for ML

ML's painting (below), working here from a still life she photographed:



The actual emailed evaluation / crit gave images of artist's work and links to artist websites to reference - you're seeing an edited version here.


ML's painting:



You can see where I marked areas up - notes below:


#1 Consider dulling and varying the the tones so the wall will have more distance from the table. See the subtle shifts in tone from the back corner of the table, in the photo, to the front of the table. This gives the illusion of depth.


#2 Pop some fun color in the greens here or at least give some additional varieties of green; blue green, yellow green, celadon etc. Sometimes a well placed pop of orange or yellow can really make greens sing.


#3 Give some pop in color and variety while staying funky, not too rendered, with your big strokes, see the work of Walt Gonske


#4 The corner of the wall, the center of the vase and the corner of the table are all in line, causing a tangent traffic jam. You could move the vase over and or re-arrange all the objects - they feel a bit shoved to the perimeter of the table.


#5 I would look at the color value choices … the yellows seem too strong and are fighting with the teal. The fruits could be handled with lighter, freer, more pure color choices and broad strokes (links and images were given in the long version of the evaluation.)


#6 Use more color even though they are white… see white flower references: Manet flowers / vases


#7 I’m not sure what this is… a vase or glass object but I would also pump it up in fun ways … big strokes..


#8 Table perspective: see black lines

Give more color value variations (links and images were given in the long version of the evaluation.) and notice, in the photo, how the foreground to background tonal variations give the sense of depth


#9 Vase color - add variety, see artists such as Hilda Neily, Lois Griffel, Margaret McWethy (links and images were given in the long version of the evaluation.)



Critique for Amy Perkins:

One of Amy's new drawings from the exercises after the last crit which can be seen above.


My insights for Amy after reviewing her new drawings:


Your drawings are really loosening up and I want you to keep pushing that. Because you are somewhere in between abstraction and realism, so to speak, it’s a challenge to describe a thing ie: hand, foot, profile – without having a good working knowledge of how to draw them and the abstract from there. A good practice it to do lots of sketches of body parts and become more and more at ease with them so you eventually have your own way of handling them, of simplifying them and making each piece of the painting feel effortless and fluid.


Additionally, I would like you to consider the environment in increasingly bigger ways, questions to consider concerning the “background / environment”: how important is it and what areas are most important to emphasize to support the figure and what can you do with pattern, texture and color to pump up the surface and story?


What struck me here is the possibility of you adding color ONLY on one part of the story. What if the only part of this drawing that would have color would be these wonderful shoes? I think it would say something about the scene, who this person is, why she has the time to lounge, is she reading? Waiting for someone? Posing for someone? All kinds of questions come up for me and I think you can consider proposing those kinds of questions intentionally as you start working n each new piece, something to think about.


My recommendations for next steps for Amy: Okay, please take a deep dive into these notes, artists and images. Please notice hands (size) (proportions, seems your hands are a bit too small for the body but that’s not necessarily wrong if it becomes part of your abstracted intent), faces / profiles (you don’t need a lot of detail, just some feature indicators) color, line work, environment and lack of environment, detail and breathing space etc. I’d like you to do several more small sketches and some painting sketches… washy loose – on small canvas or paper. Perhaps choose a color palette from one of these artists and get some nice washy color prepared before diving in. See how irreverent you can be and still keep a sense of realism.


Let’s see where you go from here!


In addition to the artists pictured here, I referenced and sent images, included in the crit with additional text, to Amy, of the artists below. You may want to look them up:


Jenifer Packer - looking at how she integrates the environment with the figure is important. I love how she draws with paint … the line work mixed with more solid areas give a sense of the temporality.


Allison Schulnik - I love her handling of paint and pattern. Super thick, chunky, juicy.


Angela Dufresne


Lucien Freud


Alice Neel


Heather Morgan


Egon Schiele


Edward Hopper



Critique for Marcia Reilly :



What I see is that the piece can have more “purpose” and vision by pumping up the darks and lights by finding forms to emphasize and by building composition in a bigger way. It’s important to vary the sizes of the shapes and tones, to overlap and to leave expansive lighter shapes as well. Building these contrasts will make a huge difference.

In Marcia's crit I included resources and references to the artists listed below and more - (not pictured or listed here).

I would love to see you build on the piece you did here by doing several works in a series like this, it can really help us understand what the work is all about and help us become much more confident and ever more skilled and experimental in doing our best work possible. The work will vary, even with a plan of a “series”, and should, but making several works this size and possibly choosing new color palettes to play with, along with form and tone can be a beautiful exploration.


Medeline Denearo

Rebecca Crowell

Jerry McLaughlin

Below: I did some editing to find shapes to tone and emphasize to push the harmonious composition and keep the eye engaged and moving around the canvas.

Below: I deepened the forms and tones and desaturated the yellows:



The following crit / guidance was done for an artist who is looking to take a deeper dive into the content, meaning and imagery in her work as relates to her interests in life.

She was looking for ways to excavate and bring forth those things in a bigger way. This will be different for each person but will give you a small glimpse into how we can work together in so many areas of art making.

I started off asking the artist, after reviewing her work, who her favorite artists are, what kinds of color and themes she is drawn to: landscape, still life, people, abstraction and if she's drawn to abstraction; how abstracted? I asked;what she is drawn to as far as light and shadow and what she remembers about art making as a young child and throughout her life. What she loves about painting and a host of other questions that helped me see her and where the work could go. Additionally, she could add any personal history that seemed relevant to what she’d like to express.

This will be completely individualized for your crit but enjoy a small portion of the conversation for this artist, through these few excerpted passages:

Here's the guidance / crit:

As I’m looking through your notes and images, I’m struck by a few things which will be good to carry thorough as you continue your work:

Excerpt 1.

Your love of Edward Hopper, for his use of light and shadow and the deeper sense of meaning. What we can keep in mind from this is how by distilling an image to it’s most necessary parts, editing out the rest, tells a story - shining a light on the ultimate meaning, which doesn’t have to be obvious but does have a presence all it’s own, more deeply evidenced with the effects of contrasts; light and dark: a deeply felt situation with a simple depiction.

Excerpt 2.

It’s enlightening to learn about the artists whose have made historical breakthroughs in art history and connect to their stories. Grabbing concepts to relate to can inform our work moving forward.

Barnett Newman, for instance used this concept, in part, in his “Zip” Paintings: To simultaneously divide and unite – physically and conceptually, relating to both isolation and connection: and

Excerpt 3.

I’m placing the works and links of several artists below (in the original crit / not shown here) and highlighting what I see as attributes you may like to investigate further.

Excerpt 4.

What I’m seeing as some possible next steps for you is taking a deeper dive into some of these artists here and reading about their interests and history and or at least, just going through their images. I’m placing a few links to additional artists below. Each artist is just like us, looking for ways to express. We can learn from their insights.

From there, I’d like to see you perhaps start off by using a photo you have and pumping up the contrast in Photoshop. Or, set up a still life. You can really go all out with this, the walls, pillows, tablecloth, piles of plates and bowls and fruit… make it as simple or busy or odd or funny or fantastic or regular as you like. Set up a situation. Bring in some strong lighting if possible or again, pump it up in Photoshop. I can help if need be.

Consider color and light in a big way. Look at or choose a palette that an artist you like is using and see how you can mix similar colors and apply them to your image. You don’t have to use the colors in the photo… of course… or you can.

Spend some good time noticing how one color next to another behaves and what you like or don’t like about that. Some artists are known specifically for their use of particular colors in particular combinations. In other words, every choice you make can be VERY thought out… based on your experience with the color. This happens over time but I do not want you getting bogged down in formulas, It will all happen naturally, Just notice.

Once you choose an image or two to start, we can discuss it / them before you get started… if you like. We can talk about your approach, why the image is meaningful etc. and then we can visit once you are midway with the painting and again if you need input at any time.

Excerpt 5.

Here, I gave the artist a few additional links which are not included on this edited crit.




Bonny Leibowitz




The Encaustic Center:

580 W.Arapaho Rd. #271

Richardson, TX. 75080



The Bonny Studio Classes:

580 W.Arapaho Rd. #262

Richardson, TX. 75080






Bonny Leibowitz




The Encaustic Center:

580 W.Arapaho Rd. #271

Richardson, TX. 75080



The Bonny Studio Classes:

580 W.Arapaho Rd. #262

Richardson, TX. 75080


580 W. Arapaho Rd. #271, Richardson, Texas, 75080