Thursday, June 18, 2015


Rob Bowen was born October 25, 1960 in Belleville, Ontario. Since age 3,it was evident that he liked to draw. In 1966, the Bowen family moved to CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia. In 1973 the Bowen family moved to British Columbia. Upon starting junior high, Rob was greatly encouraged by his junior high art teacher to draw with technical pens. Rob submitted a few pen and ink samples to the editorial dept. of the Vancouver Sun, and was accepted as freelance Illustrator for the "Weekend" section of the paper. In 1975, Rob drew several illustrations for the paper. In September of 1980, Rob travelled to Nelson, B.C. to study graphic design at David Thompson University. Graduating from the 8 month program, he went on to work as a junior graphic artist in an ad agency in Edmonton, Alberta. While he greatly enjoyed designing logos, working with type, and creating finished art, he felt himself being drawn back to school to further his studies in painting. In 1982, Rob moved back to Vancouver to study painting at Emily Carr College of Art. His first trip to Europe in 1982, introduced the young painter to Amsterdam and Paris, where he studied great works close up. The following year, around the same time ( his birthday ) he visited Italy, touring Rome, Florence, and Milan.
In the spring of 1984, Rob planned to spend the summer in Amsterdam while earning a living as an artist in cafes or on the street. The morning after arriving in the Netherlands, carrying a small album of photographed paintings, he went looking for small mural or portrait work near the center of the city. The third café he stopped into, the manager expressed interest in seeing his portfolio. By the end of summer, he had produced dozens of portraits in charcoal, 10 oil painted portraits, and an illustration for the September 1984 issue of Playboy Netherlands. Upon returning to Vancouver to complete his studies, Rob submitted a large canvas to the 1984 "Warehouse Show", an exhibition displaying works by 200 Vancouver artists. Rob's submission appeared in the Vancouver Sun following the opening, and he received favorable mention in "Canadian Art" magazine. After graduating from Emily Carr, Rob struggled while trying support himself living in downtown Vancouver. One afternoon in 1987, while visiting a friend , it was suggested to him that a hip café by the beach could use an artist to draw their features on a large chalkboard in their lounge. Three years later, he was drawing regularly at nearly 200 establishments, and had appeared on numerous television shows, as well as in Vancouver Magazine and the Vancouver Sun. In the spring of 1990, a large restaurant chain offered Rob a contract to draw chalkboards at over 100 locations across Canada and the U.S. He travelled doing this work for 8 years, and documented over 5000 chalkboards drawn between 1987 - 1998. In 1997 he moved to Banff, Alberta, and pursued painting landscapes between chalkboard tours. He produced approximately 100 drawings and paintings in the 2 years living in Banff. Rob found gallery representation in the foothills outside Calgary, at the Leighton Centre.

 In 1997 Rob moved back to Vancouver, no longer working on the road, he was contracted to produce paintings on canvas instead of chalkboards for the chain. In 5 years, Rob painted over 350 paintings for the restaurants. In 2003, Rob decided to pursue painting for interior designers full time, putting his work on the web. In 2007, Rob was asked to produce 80 painted canvases for the Gold Suites at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Currently, Rob spends his time painting and drawing, for interior designers, commissions, and gallery exhibitions.


Painted portraits