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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Eric Bowman

Painting on the beach--low tide.
How does one become a successful professional artist without first enduring several long, hard, semi-boring years as an undergraduate student followed by still more training at a graduate level from some reputable institute of higher learning? For many, this is just the entry fee, to be followed by foreign study in Europe or as a protégé/apprentice of some famous, well-known artist. Even after all of that, even having joined an established network of important movers and shakers in the so-called "art world," the following years are seldom, as my son once mixed metaphors, "a piece of cinch." In answer to this quandary, one might consult the Oregon painter, Eric Bowman. Just such a scenario has been the story of his life.

Forty going on fifty.
Eric Bowman was born in Pasadena and grew up in Orange County, CA. Nowhere in his official biography does it say when he was born, though it would appear that he's around fortyish, but pushing fiftyish. Essentially a self-taught artist, Eric had a knack for drawing as far back as he can remember, always the class artist throughout his elementary and high school years. After high school, he sort of "fell into" various art-related jobs such as silk screen T-shirt printer or surfboard airbrush technician. These led to a lengthy and successful career as a commercial artist. Eventually, over the period of a decade, Eric transitioned to fine art painting, particularly western landscapes (below).

Not all of Bowen's western landscapes and
seascapes feature horses...only my favorites.
As a painter, Eric has garnered many awards in national & regional exhibitions in some of the country's most prestigious galleries and museums. His paintings are in collections around the world, including England, China, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. Along side formally trained artists, Eric's work has also been featured in Art Of The West, Southwest Art, International Artist, Fine Art Connoisseur, and Plein Air magazines. When not traveling to various art events or visiting his beloved home state of California, Eric resides in northwest Oregon with his wife and daughter, and their dog, Mucha.

Confectionary art.
Recently Bowman has spent time exploring themes involving local culinary schools and bakeries in Portland—a city known for its passionate foodies, acclaimed restaurants, and array of food trucks. "Everyone can relate to food", Bowman says. In one of the first paintings in his food series, Ice Woman (above), the artist depicts a pastry chef at the popular Beaverton Bakery. Bowman noticed the woman during a visit and discovered that her only task was to put icing on cakes all day long. He was especially captivated by her form and the way she was bending over with an elbow and arm in the air, making for an interesting composition.

Bowman's winter art, the discipline of figures and faces.
Both the figurative and the landscape genres appeal to Bowman as subject matter. He often works in one genre for a spell and then switches to the other for variety. Living in a northern state such as Oregon, Bowman's choices are often determined by the weather conditions and seasons. Winter is for figures, and summer is the time for outdoor painting. From each genre he reaps different rewards. In his plein-air landscapes, Bowman deals with color and value. With figures, he finds discipline when it comes to drawing as seen in his paintings featuring blues and jazz artists (above).

Intense concentration.
Bowman describes his style as Real Impressionism meaning a mixture of realism and impressionism. He strives for the "truth in beauty" where realism plays second fiddle to the emotional content of light, color, and texture. As a commercial artist, Bowman painted for many years with a high amount of detail. Now however, he enjoys the freedom of "editing down" to the essential elements that make a strong statement, utilizing less analytical thinking and more intuitive functioning. Inspired by memories of his mother, Bowman also likes exploring working class vocations and general daily chores, looking for beauty in the mundane action of everyday life. In the series seen above, Bowman used the same model for his painting Iron Maiden and for Laundry Day that he did for Night Shift (above-top). He notes that his model is not as dower in real life as she appears in her portrayal of intense concentration.

They Will Pay, Rick Bowman


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