As a child, landscape painter Sue Bowerman marinated in myriad art forms. “My mother and grandmother were both artists so I grew up around woodcarvings, portraits and landscape paintings,” said the Traverse City painter, who grew up in Buffalo, N.Y.
From that time, Bowerman took a less-than-traditional approach to her art career, which took off after her retirement from social work.
“I took only one art class in high school and I loved it,” she said. “My teacher wanted me to pursue art in college, but I was too practical.”
Bowerman works now most often in oils, but also enjoys painting with pastel, watercolors and acrylics. Her landscapes are full of blues and greens, refl ecting the vistas, valleys and shorelines of Northern Michigan landscapes.
HOW I GOT STARTED
Throughout my working years and while raising a family, I periodically took classes. In my social work career, I often drew with the kids during therapy as a way to lower their anxiety. They seemed to find it easier to talk when they were engaged this way.
In 2006, when I retired, I was able to devote more time to painting and started to take oil painting classes. I continue to take workshops regularly.
THE STORY BEHIND MY ART, MY INSPIRATION
I love the creative process and the amazing feeling of being lost in painting. I can paint for long periods of time, but it only seems like minutes. This feels very much like what I imagine meditation must be like for others. I am particularly excited by color and texture. Oil paints intrigue me the most right now. I enjoy pastel and watercolor, as well as open acrylic paints that mimic the thickness of oils.
I also am excited by the idea of just starting a painting and going with it, without a preconceived plan. Often these turn out to be only exercises in color or texture - or a waste of a particularly good canvas, but sometimes I am really happy with the results. But always these times are pure joy!
Plein air painting is a love of mine because of the challenge and unpredictability of capturing what you see in nature, with the changing light and weather variables. Spending the whole afternoon outside in our amazing area is wonderful.
A large part of my satisfaction with painting has been finding a group of painters who also like to plein air paint. We call ourselves the Magic Thursday Artists because that is what we do each Thursday. During the warm months we are at a different site each week and during the winter we paint at the History Center.
These artists have been very influential and have helped me become more confident about my work. They encourage me to ‘stick my art neck out.’ This group has a show in July at the City Opera House.
WORK I’M MOST PROUD OF
I generally do not paint florals, but recently I painted a 24 x 20 close up of an iris, which is presently in the juried Art and the Garden Show at the Botanical Gardens. I enjoyed the process of capturing the subtle colors and I like this painting.
Last summer, after a glorious day of painting at the Glen Arbor Art Association Paintout, my plein air painting of Miller Hill won the People’s Choice Award. I was absolutely stunned and so appreciative.
MY FAVORITE ARTIST
It is difficult to pick a favorite, but if I have to pick only one, I pick Stephen Duren from Grand Rapids. I absolutely love his use of color in his abstract landscapes. I find his works awe-inspiring. They are rich, fluid and complex and draw you in.
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS
Just start dabbling and then keep playing with creative endeavors. Art should be about satisfying yourself and having fun, not about what others think. Once you define your work by the opinion of others, your uniqueness is lost. Keep taking classes and find friends who share your love of art.
MY WORK CAN BE SEEN/PURCHASED
I have exhibited and sold work through shows with the Art Center TC, The Oliver Center, The Minervini Group, the Glen Arbor Art Association and the Dennos Museum. I may seek out gallery representation in the future, if I can get my neck comfortably out there far enough.
I really need to do this so I can make room for more paintings on our own walls. Fortunately my husband is supportive about having so many paintings around.