Through the month of December, Asheville Gallery of Art presents Exploring the Human Figure, featuring the work of watercolorist Elinor Bowman. The works exhibited in this show were painted from live models, all of whom posed at the open studio at the Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League in Black Mountain. The gallery will host an artist reception on Friday, December 1, from 5–8 p.m.
Bowman started taking art classes shortly before she retired from her career as an actuary in December of 2001. It was in these classes that Bowman discovered a love for painting live models. “I used to do numbers; now I do pictures,” says the artist of her former career. “While I also enjoyed painting still lifes and landscapes while taking art classes, painting models was the most appealing. I seemed to be able to convey the model’s persona and my connection with the model. To me, the human form is the most interesting subject.”
Bowman enjoys the spontaneity and unexpectedness of working with her favorite mediums: watercolor, black walnut ink and Chinese ink. “I would like viewers to experience the freedom I feel when using watercolor or ink and allowing the medium to behave as it will,” she says. In order to create the series that will be featured in Exploring the Human Figure, Bowman sat with the clothed models for three-hour sessions, during which the model held the pose in twenty-minute increments. Nude poses were held for shorter increments. “I appreciate the opportunity to present a large body of work,” says Bowman. “Getting so many pieces ready to show really pushes one.”
Customer Sarah Van Guten spent years searching for the perfect watercolor before discovering Bowman’s Orangish Nude. “There are shades of orange, shades of rose leaning toward lavender and a touch of light blue,” Van Guten says. “The figure herself is primarily defined by the colors, not by the harsh black lines that one often sees. The woman depicted is self-aware, confident and content.”
Another of Bowman’s customers, Charlotte Mason, discovered the artist’s work in the River Arts District several years ago. She has since purchased multiple works for both her own personal collection and as gifts for family members. “Elinor Bowman’s art is timeless,” Mason says. “The body language and expressions remind me of my stoic elders. I feel like I have met her subjects.”
Asheville Gallery of Art is located at 82 Patton Avenue in Asheville, across from Pritchard Park. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1–4 p.m. on Sunday. To learn more, call 828.251.5796, visit ashevillegallery-of-art.com or follow the gallery’s Facebook page.