As a commissioned portrait painter, I’m always interested in seeing the great works of master painters like John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Cecilia Beaux and Joaquin Sorolla. Each of these artists had the rare ability to capture the unique character and personality of each of their sitters. At times, it seems as though their subjects could speak to you from the canvas because of the convincing way in which they were painted. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a well painted portrait may be priceless.

Joe copy

When it comes to the subject of portraits, Joe Bowler ranks among the best of the best. His dedication and commitment to excellence can be seen in each of his inspiring paintings. Whether he’s painting a child on the beach or the CEO of a company, Joe has the ability to capture and interpret the subtle qualities and characteristics of his subjects in a way that is as unique as the sitters themselves.


An example of a commissioned portrait by Joe Bowler.


Head Study

Joe’s distinguished career began at the prestigious Charles E. Cooper Studios, Inc. where his first illustration was published by Cosmopolitan at the age of nineteen. It was there that he had the opportunity to learn firsthand from some of the best and most well known artists of the day. Each of the artists that worked at Cooper Studios was encouraged to share their knowledge and experience with other artists. It was an open door policy that had a tremendous impact on Joe’s career and one which he continues to practice today.

Amantha ~ Sea Breeze

“Sea Breeze”

Butterfly Kisses

“Butterfly Kisses”




“Wicker Rocker”

Bowler-Hoe Down

“Hoe Down”


“One Fine Day”

I first met Joe and his wife Marilyn back in 1993 as an art student in college after watching a television interview of him which was shown during a painting class by one of my instructors. That first meeting had a tremendous impact on me and changed my whole outlook and approach to painting. It was during our dinner conversation later that night, as we were talking about some of the great painters of the past, when Joe leaned forward, putting one arm on the table, and looked me straight in the eye and said something that I will never forget. As he began to speak, 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 point, I didn’t quite understand. I thought that was the ultimate goal. I would love to be able to paint like Sargent!

The next sentence changed my whole approach to art. He then said, “Determine you’re going to paint better and someday you might surprise yourself.” No one had ever told me to aim higher than these great artists until that moment. It was then that I got my first glimpse into greatness and into the mindset of a master painter.

Brian Neher Joe Bowler

Here’s a photo of me and Joe in his studio in Hilton Head Island, SC.

I’ve had the honor and privilege of knowing Joe for the past nineteen years. During that time, he’s taught me many lessons, both on and off the canvas, and has given me an entire education in art. If it wasn’t for Joe’s encouragement and willingness to share, I wouldn’t be the artist that I am today.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share some of Joe’s encouragement and inspiration with you as part of the new You be the Judge art contest.

Joe Bowler has donated a copy of his 3 disc DVD set as part of the Grand Prize package. In it, Joe talks about his life, philosophy on art and technique. This video series contains one of the best explanations and palette demonstrations that I’ve ever seen when it comes to the subject of using complimentary colors when mixing flesh tones. I highly recommend this DVD set for artists who want to learn more about what it takes to pursue a career in art from a master painter with years of experience.

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To learn more about Joe Bowler and his DVD series visit

Click here for more information about how to enter the You be the Judge art contest for a chance to win these inspiring DVDs!