Sonja Bakalyar grew up in Illinois and Iowa, where her mom nurtured her youthful artistic projects by providing drawing, painting and craft supplies to keep her occupied and out of trouble. Later, her dad hired her to create window displays in his jewelry store. In high school, her astute and progressive art teacher taught gesture and contour drawing, color theory based on color psychology. She encouraged her young students to expand their perceptions. Sonja flourished and won prizes.
At Iowa State University, Sonja earned a B.S. in Applied Art, obtained teaching credentials, received Dean’s List scholarships, and became a member of the Honorary Art Fraternity. She moved to Berkeley and informally continued her art studies. For over fifty years her studio work has been enriched by the influence of mentors and teachers at California College of Arts, UC Berkeley extension, and workshops throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The newly available acrylic paint captivated her when she painted in the stimulating environment of a Studio Arts Course at the Richmond Art Center. Acrylic continues to be her medium of choice on a variety of substrates. Although primarily a painter, she also draws and experiments in printmaking, collages and multimedia.
As a freelance graphic artist, she designed commercial catalogs. As a teacher, she instructed adult fashion design and high school students. She was a Public Health Nurse after graduating in mid-life with honors and receiving a BSRN-PHN from California State University, East Bay.
She married her high school sweetheart, had two children, championed programs for developmentally disabled, joined political and cultural movements, and gained greater personal awareness. In Europe, Asia and the US, she viewed original art, which moved her in ways that reproductions did not. She aspires to connect emotionally with her viewers in her own work.
Sonja lives with her husband in California and exhibits her art in regional juried shows. Her paintings are in private and institutional collections.