Walnut Creek artist incorporates art into new life in America

Walnut Creek artist incorporates art into new life in America

Beki Bennun made this ocean-themed bowl with her favorite colors of blue.

John NakanishiCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Dec. 13, 2023) — Bekki Bennun had her “first life” in Turkey, where she was born and raised, got married and had children.

She was an entrepreneur, designing and selling unique clothes to boutiques throughout Europe. Bennun was also an accomplished oil painter, with her work shown in more than 40 mixed-artist gallery shows and seven solo exhibits.

She gave all that up when she and her husband moved to Walnut Creek eight years ago. Now in her “second life,” as she calls it, she runs an Eastern European market in Concord with her husband and creates colorful resin art.

Bennun’s 23 years as an artist began in childhood. She loved drawing women in old-style dresses when she was 10 years old. As a young adult, she enrolled in stylistic classes at a fashion design school.

After her first child, she began selling small home-sewn items, such as hair bows. She expanded by selling sweaters embellished with her designed adornments, such as beading and sequins, with her sister. Their designs became known in boutiques throughout Europe.

Artistic growth

For this matching serving tray and coasters, Beki Bennun used white pigment paste to form the flowers, gold glitters and gold leaf edges.

Always wanting to grow artistically, Bennun began taking oil painting classes and was soon showing and selling her paintings in galleries. With each success, she was very satisfied.

But with their children now grown, Bennun and her husband’s move to the United States proved challenging. After trying different jobs, the couple was happy to make a living when they established the Bay Area European Market & Deli in Concord.

Running a busy market meant she had no time for her art, until the pandemic and shelter-in-place changed her life. After seeing a YouTube demo on pour painting, she decided to try it and was hooked.

“Working with the colors was fun. It was calming me; it was good for me,” remembers Bennun, who often created different color combinations, losing track of time and working until 3 or 4 in the morning.

A new inspiration came when she saw how resin could be used to seal her pour paintings.

“I like making things with my hands,” Bennun states, noting that it reminded her of the satisfaction of the artistry she put into baking and decorating cakes when her kids were little.

At first, she used commercial molds to create her resin art, but as she became more skilled, Bennun grew tired of molds. She tried using silicone to create her own shapes. While pouring resin into her homemade silicone mold, she had a happy accident. Resin leaked out and created a nice effect as it slowly dripped down. She began dripping resin for the visual effect. She also began forming the resin with just her hands.

Trial and error

Through trial and error, she perfected the timing of working with warm resin before it sets. She learned how to color her resins with mica pigments or manipulate drops of alcohol inks to make fun and unique patterns.

Ocean themes are common for her because she likes blue colors. Bennun also adds other materials into the resin, such as gold leaf, dried flowers and leaves, or crushed glass.

From left: These butterfly coasters feature mica colors and glitter. This bowl has a surf-like rim and crushed glass colored with alcohol ink. Close up of the coasters.

Recently, Bennun has been making a lot of vases, bowls, trays, bottle stoppers and other practical items. “I like to make useful things in resin art. It’s functional but also art.”

All of Bennun’s creations are one of a kind. “When you are making handmade, all are unique. You can’t make exactly the same thing; it’s impossible.”

But she likes it that way. Bennun keeps chasing her inspirations and creating delightfully distinctive resin art.

Beki Bennun’s artwork is currently showing at JOR Fine Art Gallery in Clayton and Studio Seven Arts Gallery in Pleasanton. For more about her artwork, see her on Etsy.com (BekiBennunArt) or email bbennun@gmail.com.

Email comments and suggestions for future columns to phjona@gmail.com.

John Nakanishi
John Nakanishi

John Nakanishi is treasurer of The Concord Art Association. He is an acrylic painter and a ceramic artist. When John isn’t creating art, he coaches soccer for East Bay Eclipse, a competitive soccer club based in Moraga. He is also an avid trail runner, enjoying runs from 5 miles to 50K.