Brigitte Bowyer, Abaco Islands, Bahamas
Where did you grow up and how did your childhood influence your creative side?
I grew up in Germany in and after WWII. My generation of the family was divided into artists and lawyers...mainly artists. I can’t remember a time in my life I did not create something visual. Maybe making art and seeing art in every museum I could find was the only way I could get away from those memories of war.
Did you go to school for art or are you self taught?
Both....as a child, painting and drawing was my favourite past-time and I remember being punished in school for ‘decorating’ my school books. Art was really the only thing I was ever good at. I graduated from a really excellent school for graphic design.
How would you describe your painting style?
Loose and impressionistic. I try to capture the essence of what I see and feel.
Who has influenced your career as an artist?
One of my first watercolour teachers was Edgar Whitney, who even in his 80’s was a powerhouse of knowledge and wisdom. His book, “Complete Guide to Watercolor Painting” is still my bible. But I like and study all good art and design, particularly the Impressionists.
Do you teach and if so, what do you teach your students?
Our mind is a powerful thing. The very first thing I mention in a class is that ‘your body hears and knows everything you say or think’. You have to believe you can do this difficult and exhilarating thing called watercolour. It is also important to go to museums and exhibits and train your eyes to recognize and see good art. I also feel that painting with others is a great way to learn. I specialize in small classes, and love to teach one on one.
Do you think watercolour has gained in popularity?
Yes I do, since I started using the medium over 50 years ago. Some people still think that watercolours are mainly very small paintings of flowers. Along with that is the false belief that watercolours are not permanent. But there are many great artists now using the medium, painting daring and wonderful work. I think that more and more art lovers are looking at and loving watercolours.
Do you have other creative hobbies?
My inspiration often comes from taking photographs....I use my camera to train my eyes, and to recognize subject matter.
I also decorate driftwood from our beaches with acrylics....often it’s hard here to sell a painting, but my driftwood fish are very popular.
Do you exhibit your paintings and if so, where?
Yes, I do, mainly online and in my studio now. For the last 30 odd years, I’ve lived on an island near a very small community in Abaco, part of the Northern Bahamas. There are no galleries and local artists exhibit mostly on the walls of island hotels and resorts. I do exhibit at the wonderful and inspiring Doongalik Art Gallery in Nassau - unfortunately it is a boat, car, airplane and taxi ride away.
How do you get into the gallery world?
You make art. No amount of talking, looking at videos, museums or watching others will make us good artists. When you think you are ready to show your work (and strong enough to weather times of no sales, and the possible storm of critique) then there are art shows and galleries...
What advice do you have to give new watercolourists?
A. If you are serious about learning to paint with aquarelle, you owe it to yourself to buy the best paper, paint and brushes. It makes a huge difference. Why make this learning process more frustrating?
B. Daily practice is imperative.
C. Learn to draw. Many of my students are brilliant with colour, but are very much intimidated by the drawing aspect, and that is making the creation of a good painting more difficult.
And you didn’t ask why I love love love painting with watercolours???
After over 50 years exploring this medium, I am still not tired of it. It still teaches me new aspects of painting and thinking - every time I pick up the brush it gives me new and exciting experiences.