When talking with other artists, the conversation often leads to two topics that mean a great deal to me: inspiration and encouragement. These two subjects are vital ingredients in the life and career of an artist. In my own experience, I’ve found that a little bit of encouragement can go a long way towards helping others reach their goals. I think back to my days as an art student in college, getting set to graduate and embark on an exciting career in art. What I soon discovered was that not everyone was as excited about this adventure as I was. In fact, there were many people who tried to discourage me from pursuing my goals, stating that I could never make it as an artist. After a while, I began to doubt whether or not I should continue my studies and was preparing to make a decision on whether or not I should give up on my dream of becoming an artist. It was during that time when I made a trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina to meet a man who would forever change my life.

Joe_Bowler_You_be_the_Judge_art_contest_Brian_Neher copy

Photo of Joe Bowler in his studio from the May 2013 issue of Hilton Head Monthly

Artist Joe Bowler has been inspiring countless artists over the years with his encouraging words, wealth of knowledge, and extraordinary work. Joe is often known for being one of the great illustrators of the twentieth century as well as one of the greatest portrait painters in the world. Much has been written about his distinguished career over the years, including a recent six-part interview with Joe by Leif Peng on his blog, Today’s Inspiration.

Bowler-Hoe Down




Here are some examples of Joe’s work from his days as an illustrator:




In 1972, Joe and his wife, Marilyn, moved from New York to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The move proved to be the ideal location for making the transition from illustration to portraiture. Since that time, clients from all over world have come to Joe’s studio to have their portrait painted by one of today’s modern masters.


Hole 18 Harbour Town

Spanish moss adorns the Live Oaks that line the picturesque roads to Hilton Head

Here are some examples of Joe Bowler’s incredible portrait paintings:

Regan Boyse ~ 30" x 24"


Janie Carter ~ 25" x 20"


In addition to hosting clients at his home over the years, Joe has also welcomed countless artists into his studio. This is where I fit into the picture. I first met Joe and his wife, Marilyn, back in 1993. As I was traveling to his home, I had made up my mind that this visit would determine whether or not I should continue to pursue a career in art. That afternoon, Joe graciously took a look at some of my work and offered his advice on what I could do to improve. He gave me an entire art history of some of the great painters of the past and how their work had inspired him throughout his career. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I thanked Joe and Marilyn for taking time out of their busy schedules to see me and was getting set to pack up my paintings in the car. Before leaving, Marilyn asked if I would like to join her and Joe for dinner. Later that night, as we sat at a crowded restaurant talking about some of the great artists of the past, Joe said something to me that I’ve never forgotten over the years. While leaning forward, putting one arm up on the table and looking me straight in the eye, he said “When you look at artists like Sargent, Zorn, Sorolla, or even my own work, don’t determine that you’re going to paint like them.” At that moment I could feel my heart drop, recalling the voices of those who had told me that I could never make it as an artist. I began bracing for the worst, thinking that Joe was about to tell me that I just didn’t have what it takes to become a successful artist. Instead, he finished by saying “Determine that you’re going to paint better and, someday, you might surprise yourself”. That one sentence changed my whole outlook on art and helped to solidify my answer of whether or not I should continue to pursue a career in art. Since that time, Joe has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to me throughout the years.


Me and Joe in his studio on Hilton Head Island

In his 3 disc DVD series, Joe continues to encourage a new generation of artists by sharing the knowledge and experience that he’s gained over the years during his career as both a famed illustrator and renowned portrait painter. Joe discusses the topics of technique, the life of an artist, and also his own philosophy on art. Also included is one of the best lessons that I’ve ever seen on the topic of mixing flesh tones by using warm and cool colors and how to combine them to create various “grays”. Click here to learn more about this highly informative series.


I’m honored to have Joe Bowler as one of the sponsors of the You be the Judge art contest 2013. The Grand Prize winner will receive an exclusive, hand signed copy of Joe’s DVD series as part of the Grand Prize package!


Exclusive, hand signed copy for the You be the Judge Grand Prize winner

To learn more about Joe Bowler’s DVD series and to see more of his extraordinary paintings visit www.joebowlerchronicles.com.

For all of the details about the “You be the Judge” art contest 2013 visit www.YouBeTheJudgeArtContest.com. Also, if you have a minute, be sure to cast a vote for your favorite work of art before Sunday, June 16th to help decide who the Grand Prize winner will be!