Bowman watercolor


Jerry W. Bowman


I have pursued a unique path in watercolor painting for 35 years. My experience includes several courses from Kalamazoo College, (phi beta kappa, magna cum laude graduate with a B.A in 1974). One course was in life drawing and one in European art history (at he University of Erlangen, Germany). My junior year was spent in Europe and I visited most of the great art galleries there, with a great deal of time spent sketching and studying the old masters. I learned that seeing is better than reading, and doing is better than seeing. Good advice for any artist. After college and graduate work at the University of Michigan (as a biology major) I became a research scientist for the Upjohn Company (and the businesses that followed including Pharmacia and now Pfizer). I retired in 2009 after 31 years. In the meantime (starting 30 years ago), I took classes from the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in drawing, pastels, watercolor (2) and printmaking (silk screen, lithography, etching, monotypes etc.). Watercolor was the medium that captured me. I approached the discipline seriously and continued my education by seeking out advice and workshops from specific artists including Sondra Freckelton, Jack Beal, Janet Fish, Don Nice and Gary Gillespie. I supplemented what I learned with endless observation in the finest galleries in the world and, above all, extensive studio experimentation. I have often actively avoided much of the dogma that surrounds what watercolor can be, and hence have pushed it beyond the limits that one normally associates with this medium. I developed my painting style over the course of six years before beginning a showing and selling career. This has resulted in a personal format that is readily recognizable. This has provided the opportunity to show in scores of juried shows and has ganered many national awards. I have earned signature membership in Watercolor West, the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Society and the Watercolor Honor Society as well as listings in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Art (see resume).

I have been associated at various times with galleries in Vancouver B.C., Santa Fe NM, Holland, MI, South Haven, MI, Saugatuck, MI,  and Kalamazoo, MI. I also still show frequently at my own studio, by invitation or appointment. I take care of my own archival framing and do my painting in my own studio located at my home. I have participated in scores of state, national or international juried shows (see resume) and set up my own business in 2010 as Bowman Art LLC. I also teach watercolor and consult from my studio by request. I am responsible for the design and artwork (10 large framed pieces) for the Casa Bolero restaurant in Kalamazoo, MI. I also did the artistic design and placement of 13 of my pieces in the Su Casa restaurant in South Haven, MI. In 2011 I participated in my first juried European show in France just outside Paris. I reprised that show in March of 2012 and won the Prix Credit Mutuel prize.

My originals are usually large and complex, but with enhanced time available I am producing more work and experimenting with smaller formats. I take on select special projects and commissions, but am always open to new possibilities. I am actively seeking further gallery representation both in the USA and abroad.

Artist’s Statement

My name is Jerry W. Bowman and I am a watercolor artist. My feel is for color and flow and I generally paint for myself. I have serendipitously coupled my bold style of painting with a love of travel, an extensive collection of unique collected icons and a particular viewpoint on cross-cultural commonalities.

          My work is distinctively recognizable and has been characterized as follows. It is usually (for watercolor) large scale, with an emphasis on a wide color gamut, unique design and archival quality materials. Depth and dimensionality are essential elements as well as an unusual point of view. Compositions are fluid and structured. While my work explores everything from florals to peppers to fabrics, my main focus remains on cross-cultural concepts of color and pattern as exemplified by the objects that populate my work. These include carvings, masks, bowls, musical instruments, etc., from so-called primitive cultures. Found natural items are there, too. Textiles are essential. The work explores an essentially timeless and unbounded universal human trait: the love of color and pattern in the objects we create with our hands. By weaving these items from cultures around the world together into unusual compositions, each painting invites the viewer to share in this vision and create their own narrative, thus participating in the creative process. Without this interaction between artist and viewer, art can be rather droll. I want to create a dialog with the viewer, not lecture them. That dialog focuses on the interpretation of the viewer of the potential stories inherent in my work. I feel the viewer’s rational and emotional responses are at least as important as the artist’s intent. And all of this is wrapped in the cross-cultural commonalities of the love of color and pattern that humans have expressed since they first began to fashion objects and create pictures. Hence, in the end, I believe it is art that binds us all together.