FORT MORGAN – Art runs in the family for Wiggins resident Bonnie Noles Lieder.
Her parents, Earlene and Harley Noles, were both lifelong artists. Her father, who also used to be a magician on the side, used pen and ink as his medium of choice, and her mother preferred to paint with oil and pastels. For more than 30 years, Lieder has followed in their footsteps, and her love for the canvas has rubbed off on her husband, Lawton.
Although she tends to work with pastels or oil paints like her mother, Lieder has also made T-shirts, pillowcases, tile decorations, greeting cards and many other types of artistic media. Her work has been displayed in a few art galleries over the years, but most of her work is commissioned by others. She’s willing to make almost anything a client requests, even though she usually doesn’t make much of a profit.
“A lot of times I give my art away, because it makes somebody happy,” Lieder said. “That’s the rewarding part for me. I don’t have to have the glory or the credit, because I know my gift is from the Lord, and he gets the credit.”
Her paintings usually portray Western subjects, like cowboys and farm animals, and her studio is fittingly named “Western Hearts in Art.” Lawton Lieder uses his own lifelong hobby, woodworking, to make the rugged-looking frames in which they’re displayed. Recently, his wife convinced him to start painting as well.
“I didn’t pick up a paintbrush until 2012,” he said. “One day my wife asked me if I could paint, and I said ‘I don’t know, I’ve never tried.’ But I always watched Bob Ross as a kid, so I thought if he could do it, I could, too.”
Most of his paintings are currently decorating his house.
The couple’s artistic tendencies can be seen in every part of their lives, including their home on the outskirts of Wiggins. It’s a red barn, half of which they’ve converted to a living space lined with natural wood and stone. The walls are covered in art by multiple generations of the Lieder and Noles families. The Lieders are working to finish the other half of the barn so Earlene Noles, who still paints at her assisted living home in Keenesburg, can come and live with them.
Some of Lieder’s children also show an aptitude for art, though none of them have become professional painters. Her son, Kevin Johnson, works on a Disney cruise ship and enjoys sketching the islands he sees on his days off. Her daughter, Jessica, has gone into professional baking in Minnesota, which Lieder sees as “its own kind of art.”
Lieder has lived and worked in many places, and her works reflect that variety. She said each piece of art has a story behind it – from the T-shirts she designed to raise money for grief counselors after the Columbine High School shooting to the many portraits she’s painted of friends and family. Once, she felt led to make the wooden figure of an angel in an orange dress, and on the day it was finished, she met a stranger who said it looked exactly like her daughter who had just died in a car accident.
“That’s the Lord,” Lieder said.
Wherever the inspiration for the Lieders’ art comes from, it always has the same end goal: to put a smile on someone’s face. Lawton shares his wife’s philosophy when it comes to his woodworking.
“I’ve sold a few frames, but I never did it for the money,” he said. “I did it for the people.”