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Friday, August 18, 2017

Creating a Life in Color

“We live in color,” said South Mountain resident, Kelly Bowman of herself and her family, husband Todd and daughter Sonnie.

Bowman, a local artist and substitute teacher, paints in the bright, beautiful colors she has always embraced, even as a child.

“I’ve always painted things odd-colored – purple horses, yellow hearts – and people always told me I shouldn’t paint that way,” said Bowman, originally from the artist community of Laguna Beach, California.

A hopeful artist in the early 1980s, Bowman took a class with a well-known, local artist only to find that the instructor didn’t agree with her style.

“I decided maybe the parents were right,” Bowman said.

At the time Bowman’s parents wanted her to pursue a “real” job, and after the frustrating experience with the art class, Bowman acquiesced, choosing to study architecture at Arizona State University.

While Bowman fell in love with Arizona and the Southwest, architecture wasn’t the right fit and she left its stringent methodologies to earn a teaching certificate back in California.

“I realized I loved working with people and children,” Bowman said.

In 1990, Bowman moved to Taos, New Mexico where she taught for a small-town school and met her husband Todd. In Taos, Bowman embraced the southwestern lifestyle and became acquainted with a number of artists. She married Todd in 1990 and together they moved back to Phoenix, Todd’s hometown, in 1998.

Upon moving to Arizona, the couple scoured Scottsdale’s art galleries looking for art for their new home. The search inspired them to create their own paintings and Todd encouraged Kelly to begin painting with acrylics.

“Once I got started,” Bowman said, “I took off.”

An animal lover from early on and a horseback rider since age 15; Bowman chose animals as the object of her art. Combining her love of animals, her passion for painting and her desire to teach others–especially children–Bowman offers art workshops to local Girl Scouts and 4-H Club members.

“They can paint what they want,” Bowman said. “There are no parameters. My job is to help them get over the intimidation of the materials.”

The rest is up to the budding artist and Bowman enjoys the opportunity to do something she loves with art.

Today, most of her artwork is commissioned. She has painted numerous dogs as well as horses, a cat and even a sea turtle. The subjects of her paintings are the well-loved pets of her clients’ and, in some cases the pets are no longer around, meaning she must capture their likeness from photographs. But, Bowman is looking to capture more than their likeness, she’s looking for their essence.

“When I see a certain animal certain colors come to me, it’s like an energy,” said Bowman.

Her artwork is lush with the color she sees in life – blues, purples, yellows, greens, reds and oranges and her commissioned pieces often bring tears to her clients’ eyes.

“Customers have been emotional about the paintings when they receive them,” Bowman said. “There’s always a challenge when you paint something for someone that they will like what you’ve done.”

Her clients seem more than pleased with the results and some, like Fountain Hills residents Rich and Cathy Gohl, have commissioned Bowman to paint multiple pieces. Familiar with Bowman’s colorful paintings and talent for painting animals, the Gohls hired Bowman to paint an eight-piece series of their past dogs.

“She did a really good job of capturing who they were,” Rich Gohl said. “We have [the eight paintings] displayed in a series above our TV.”

Bowman’s paintings represent cherished pets from across the country, including Arizona, Florida and California. According to Bowman, some of her clients worry that the color may be too much.

“In the end, they always like it,” Bowman said of her clients. “Sometimes it’s outside their comfort zone [all of those colors], but when they see it, they realize it’s right.”

What she says she’s giving her clients when she presents a painting: “Happiness! The paintings make them happy.”

Recently, Bowman has started painting one of her favorite desert subjects – cactus. Bowman enjoys bringing out the various shades of blue and green in the agave or the purples in the prickly pear cactus.

“There is a whole plethora of color in the desert,” Bowman said.

There is a whole lot of color in the world and Bowman’s talent for capturing it on canvas brings joy to those who witness it.

To find out more about Kelly Bowman and her colorful world of art, visit her online at Rolling Horse Studio: http://web.mac.com/kelco1/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html

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