Rich Bowman doesn’t need to go far in search of inspiration. A short drive from his home in Kansas City, MO, the 35-year-old painter encounters the pancake-flat fields, skyscraper thunderheads, and indolent rivers that dominate his abstracted landscapes. “I grew up in Texas and the Midwest,” Bowman points out. “These images are icons for me. They often convey a familiar beauty, a sense of openness and serenity. Yet they can also be edgy and uncomfortable.”
Working in oil, Bowman fills spacious canvases with sunset scenes dominated by dusk-tinted cloudscapes, anchored by broad plains and serpentine waterways. Since the artist deliberately excludes human figures from his paintings, perspective and scale are provided by an occasional fence or tree.
Bowman eschews brushes in favor of a palette knife and cement trowel, the latter handed down by his grandfather. (“I found it on my workbench,” he laughs.) His approach is a contrast to the representational realism he once did as a staff illustrator for Hallmark Cards—not that he’s cut those ties completely, however. “I’m a design studio manager there now,” says Bowman. “I decided years ago that, in my spare time, I wanted to create a completely different kind of art.” Mark Rothko, Richard Deibenkorn, and Russell Chatham are continuing inspirations.
Featured in “Portfolio” April 2004