Meet an Artopian – John Fowler

When did you first fall in love with creating art?

I wouldn’t have thought of it as a question of when I “first fell in love with art”, but rather when I realized I had artistic ability.  Perhaps the realization of my own ability made me fall in love with art.  That moment came after my first grade teacher asked each in our class to draw an illustration depicting a scene from the children’s book she was reading to us.  The book was called PING A DUCK and I unwittingly drew a picture which rivaled the illustrations in the book, with a realistic duck in the foreground, water lapping at its sides and a Chinese junk floating proportionately in the background, all set against a proportional horizon.  I had no idea of my drawing’s level of sophistication, until my teacher gasped upon seeing it.  My pride grew as she asked the other student’s to gather around and see what I had done.  At that moment, I knew I had some uncommon ability.  I drew a lot of ducks after that, then other birds, until I branched out to other things, usually inspired by nature.

What part(s) of your everyday life inspires you artistically?

As a zoologist and naturalist, I am inspired by nature, but in addition to animals, I am an avid gardener.  I love to bring the imagery that might go unnoticed in passing into the forefront in a large format, the detail of a leaf, flower, insect or shell.  I think this takes people by surprise, and gets viewers to become conscious of things they have overlooked in the microcosms.  I consider myself a nature-based abstract artist, one who finds great beauty and spectacle in the little things.

What would you say has been the biggest surprise in your journey with art?

After having been a small-scale, disciplined and mostly photo-realistic artist much of my early life, I was surprised to transition into large-scale expressive abstracts, which are a pure joy to produce.  I had to work at letting go and relax into it.  Some lame pieces came out of that, but were necessary to the process of study and exploration.  From there, I was pleasantly surprised to have a favorable response from art galleries, and consumers willing to purchase my art.  A sale is the best complement an artist can have for their art, because it means the observer is willing to give of their own resources to possess it.

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?

I think it may still be that first grade drawing of PING A DUCK because it will always represent an awakening for me as the artist. 

What advice would you give to young artists?

If you want to sell art, think about your audience, and create for them, not just yourself.  Don’t let self-indulgence get the best of you; you can only keep so many pieces in the dark shadows of storage.  Enjoy and appreciate connecting with others through your art, for now and posterity.  Your legacy will be a form of telepathy to a future audience. 

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