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  • Writer's picturePaul G. Chandler

Baba’s Art School – 101: #5

“You can’t begin too soon to encourage an appreciation of art! And each artwork has a story.”

During this week, this Baba introduced his two grandkids to a painting from his collection by one of the US’s most noted contemporary sacred artists, Daniel Bonnell. The painting is titled “Joseph’s Bird Lesson” and in many ways it reflects what I am doing with my grandchildren through this “Baba’s Art School” - introducing them to the magic of life, albeit through paintings rather than birds.

Also, “Joseph’s Bird Lesson” resonates deeply these days, as the prairie and forest behind our home is known for its variety of birds. And during this time of year, it is quite magical to see a bright red cardinal sitting on a branch against the white winter landscape!

I first met Daniel Bonnell in 1990, when we worked together, and I have been deeply honored to be one of his patrons since then. His paintings have graced our homes all over the world. I have found that his work speaks deeply to my soul, allowing me to enter into a “deeper dimension.”

Today, Bonnell lives in Savannah, Georgia. He has a fascinating background. He received his BFA degree from the Atlanta College of Art and his MFA in painting from Savannah College of Art and Design. His post-graduate studies were under the renowned photographer, Ansel Adams, celebrated artist Edward Ross, as well as the renowned designer, Milton Glaser. He was the Winner of The Brother Nathan Cochran Award in Sacred Arts in 2018. His paintings are found in over 100 countries around the world - in cathedrals, churches and private collections, and in publications of over 30 languages. He is also author of Shadow Lessons, a book about teaching art in the inner city to at-risk high school students, and he is a contributing writer to ArtPulse Magazine, a magazine on contemporary art. He follows a Franciscan position of ethos that espouses a kenosis position on life.

Bonnell now paints primarily on grocery bag paper, expressing his belief that “all real beauty finds rest on a stage of humility,” as he sees each work of art as an act of devotion. He recently donated an original work of art by him on grocery bag paper to every Episcopal church in Wyoming.

Speaking of his art, Bonnell says, “The mystery of seeing is seeing the mystery.” Reflecting further, he writes, “If the beauty of that which is seen was created by the unseen, then how much more beautiful is that which is unseen?”

To learn more about Daniel Bonnell, see:


Daniel Bonnell, “Joseph’s Bird Lesson,” 2010

Oil on canvas, 24” x 18.5”


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