Watercolor painting of an artist airman painting heavy machinery and aircraft in the field
John Bowen, “Sketching in the Field,” 12 x 18 in., watercolor, 2013 — My first Plein Air experiences were in South Vietnam in 1968, graphically documenting Airlift Operations as a US Air Force Illustrator. “Sketching in the Field,” a self-portrait, was used on the cover of my award-winning illustrated book “Eleven Months and Nineteen Days.”

How did you get started and then develop your career?

John Bowen: As far back as I can remember, l wanted to be an artist. My father drew and painted in many mediums, and as I grew l followed in his direction. By the time I graduated high school my mind was set. I knew I wanted to be a Commercial Artist. I was fortunate to land an apprentice artist position in an art service studio shop, right out of school.

I worked there for two years before joining the United States Air Force, from 1961 to 1969, as an illustrator. This included a one-year tour of duty in South Vietnam, graphically documenting Airlift Operations for the Allied Forces in 1968. After separating from the service in 1969, l spent the next 38 years working in Newspaper Advertising Art, retiring in 2008.

Throughout all those years I continued to do what I call “painterly realistic” watercolors, working from sketches and photos to create my paintings. I participated in many outdoor art festivals around the country. I am a signature member of both the Gold Coast and Florida Watercolor Societies, and an associate member of the American Society of Marine Artists.

To see more of John’s work, visit: johnbowenwatercolorist.com

Watercolor painting of a two-seated bicycle parked out front of a restaurant
John Bowen, “Dinner for Two,” 20 x 26 in., watercolor, 2019 — Textures were the main reason to paint this, along with that bicycle built for two, in the front.
Watercolor painting of boats in the water
John Bowen, “Miss Ann,” 20 x 28 in., watercolor, 2020 — Boats and old houses are my favorite subjects.


  1. My own Artist Spotlight was a great honor to me. I am very happy to have been included in with these very talented artists! I hope l can continue to be connected with this organization.


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