Bonnie Shields, The Tennessee Mule Artist
Bonnie and her mule, Iris
Meet Bonnie Shields
There wasn't a time when I wasn't trying to draw something, but I claim my career started at the age of four. That's when I did my first piece for public display. Actually, it was a stick figure in black and green done on my grandma's kitchen wall.
Depending on how you want to look at it, the success of this whole project hinged on the fact that it was executed to four-year-old height, therefore, easily ignored.
When I wasn't executed at dawn, I took it as a sign. I must be an ARTIST! This premise continues to serve me well, obviously.
I grew up in Southern Indiana, the daughter of professional photographers and hopelessly horse-crazy from day one. The fact that horses were a foreign country to my family deterred me not a whit. I got my first horse at the age of fourteen and it's been downhill at a dead run ever since.
As a young adult, I found myself in middle Tennessee, which just happened to be one of the last strongholds of a serious mule culture. Attending the pulls and watching these incredible creatures working in the woods and fields, I became hopelessly hooked. A Mule Maniac.
Through years of contact with mule people from all over, it was inevitable I hear about Bishop Mule Days out in the Golden West. The rest, as they claim, is history.
My first Bishop experience was 1976. It changed my life, and my address. I moved to Bishop for a brief 18 months in '78 before locating permanently in Northern Idaho in April of 1980 - then Mt. St. Helens blew-up to celebrate!
I've been a full-time professional artist since 1973 with my main claim to fame being my mule work. And, being the Tennessee Mule Artist is more than an empty claim, it's the state law in Tennessee. My ties to the mule and to Tennessee remain strong and I'm on the Board of Directors of the American Donkey and Mule Society. Since moving West, my art has expanded and enjoyed some success, especially being associated with Leanin' Tree, the largest publisher of Western greeting cards.
And, YES, I HAVE MULES. I have 5 of 'em.
In July of 1992, Boots Reynolds, Mike Scovel, and I conspired to form the Cowboy Cartoonists, Inc. along with several wonderful fellow cartoonists. Perfect bunch for a half-ass artist, don't you think?
So, wander through this site and enjoy the scenery. Some of it is "serious" and some is - well, NOT! And, like my mule hero, Leroy, always said -"KEEP YOUR TRACES TIGHT!"