British artist Owen Bowen ROI RCA is predominantly known for spirited landscapes imbued with vigour and delivered with impressionistic brushwork. He also produced still lifes, particularly later in his career. Born in Leeds, he studied under the gregarious William Gilbert Foster (1855-1906) and became an integral member of the ‘Staithes Group’.
An energetic firebrand, the precocious Bowen leapt into the world of painting with both feet. Against the wishes of his father, he left school to pursue his artistic endeavours. Never looking back, and seemingly endowed with stoic determination, by the age of 19, he’d already won medals, opened a studio, launched an art school, and debuted at the Royal Academy. An exciting start for this young pioneer.
His loose style and preference for ‘plein air’ is at times akin to Corot, the Barbizon School painter. Views appear to vibrate with intangible energy as if he’s somehow tapped into the very fabric of nature. They’re unusually confident, often lively, and playful even. Although, he was equally adept at capturing a sombre mood with contorted trees rendered in muted tones.
When into his Autumn years, he travelled less and produced an increasing number of still lifes - equally stimulating with vivid colouring. Remarkably his career spanned nine decades. He painted into his 90s.
Art teaches us that the best results are gained by committing to one’s truest self and Bowen knew who he was. An enchanting spirit, fired up by an irrepressible zest for life and a deep admiration for nature’s various moods.
Owen Bowen exhibited extensively including at the Walker Art Gallery, Royal Academy and the The Royal Institute of Oil Painters. He’s represented at various museums including at Leeds, Harrogate, Kirklees and Bradford among others.
Born in Leeds to George, a cashier at a flax mill, and Elizabeth Bowen.
Employed by Burmantofts Pottery.
Studied at the Leeds School of Art under William Gilbert Foster.
Awarded two medals at the Yorkshire Union of Artists exhibition.
Established a studio at 51 Cookridge Street, Leeds.
Debuted at The Royal Academy with ‘Evening, South Coast, Isle of Man’.
Opened a school of painting in Leeds.
First visited the Yorkshire coast and spent the summer at Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire.
Moved to Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire.
Married Janet Wilson.
Produced illustrations for The Old Kingdom of Elmet by Edmund Bogg.
Elected a member of the Staithes Art Club.
Moved to East Keswick.
Elected a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
Served as President of the Royal Cambrian Academy.
Died in Leeds.