Saturday, October 29, 2011

Goldfish tours Michigan.

I recently toured Michigan to share my artwork and my children’s book: Memoirs of a Goldfish (published by Sleeping Bear Press), which is the featured title for the 2011 "Michigan Reads!" One State, One Children's Book Program. Target is a sponsor of "Michigan Reads!" Thanks to their support, the Library of Michigan provided a hardcover copy of the book and programming materials to all public libraries, elementary schools, Head Start and Michigan School Readiness programs across the state. In addition, the author (Devin Scillian) and I have been visiting libraries and schools across the state.

Here are a few more pics from the book tour…

 And of course, no book tour is complete without a Santa, escorted by a couple of giant flamingos.

Many thanks, to our friends in Michigan. It was a great trip.

For more information about the Michigan Reads program, visit:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Golfish swims onto itunes

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian (published by Sleeping Bear Press) and illustrated by Tim Bowers (me) Is now available as and app. through itunes. 
The link to check it out is: 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creative renewal = classical realism (part 1)

Another unfinished painting, a self-portrait using the sight-size method.   I'm not sure why I didn't finish... I think the model stopped showing up.

I’ve shared an interest in realistic painting and cartooning since I was a boy, growing up in Troy, Ohio.  My career has taken me in both directions but usually in the direction of cartooning with a bit of added realism.  Every once in a while I get a feeling of discontent, wanting to paint but having a full schedule of commercial work ahead of me.  There have been times when I just have to take a break from my illustration assignments to look for a creative boost. 

That’s what happened nearly 20 years ago.  I was looking through my American Artist and the Artist’s magazines for some inspiration.  I could always count on finding excellent articles featuring some really talented painters on the pages of those magazines.  One artist that caught my attention was Richard Lack, a painter in Minnesota.  I started reading about the classical realism group of artists and the atelier system of art training.  I eventually called Mr. Lack on the phone and spoke to him about his work and asked if there were any of his students in the Ohio area.  He was very helpful and gave me a name of a former student, living in the Cincinnati area. 

Carl Samson is an immensely talented painter and I lived a few hours drive away from his studio.  I called Carl and spent a day picking his brain about classical realism, the traditions of painting and looking at some of his excellent artwork.  He was conducting a weekend workshop as an introduction to drawing from the cast, portrait painting (using the sight-size method) and landscape painting, plein-air.  I signed up for the workshop and found that Samson was an excellent teacher, sharing a wealth of information and history as he demonstrated each direction.  I was inspired, to say the least.

I returned to Columbus and set up a still life in my basement.  Using the sight-size method, I started to paint.  I would work on the still life between illustration assignments. Unfortunately, the tomatoes that I used in my still life began to age and change color during the process.  I guess fruit and vegetables aren’t the best thing to paint if you can’t do it quickly. It was a mess and I had to improvise to complete the painting.

Still life with (aging) tomatoes.

Next, I set up my French easel on the bank of the Scioto River, just south of the O’Shaughnessy Reservoir, in Dublin, Ohio.  I spent a few hours on the rocky edge of the Scioto River, capturing a view looking up-stream.  I was having a great time, really focused on the process.  I didn’t notice the water rising until it was surrounding my easel with my paint box nearly floating, next to my feet.  It seems that the O’Shaughnessy dam had been opened for some reason and the rocky, river edge was disappearing under the rising water.  I’m sure that Carl would have come prepared with waders and finished the painting, partly submerged.  Anyway, I have an unfinished river painting from that experience.

Landscape with dam water rising (from the O'Shaughnessy Reservoir, just up river).

Through the years, I’ve used some of what I learned from Carl Samson and others painters, in my illustration art.  I’ll write about that next time.

I think every artist needs a creative boost, once in a while.  I enjoy creating art for illustrations but wish I had more time to pursue painting, without deadlines, art direction and having to consider a commercial format.  That’s my goal.  Balance.

Check out Carl’s work…

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I am really excited about my newest book, Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band by Kwame Alexander (published by Sleeping Bear Press).  It's a project that allowed me to combine my art, a music theme and humor... it doesn't get any better than that!

Kwame put together a great little story with some very funny characters, including: Duck Ellington, Bee Holiday, Thelonious Monkey, Ella Finchgerald and Mules Davis. He also included a glossary at the end of the book that describes the actual Jazz musicians that inspired the book characters and other jazz vocabulary.

As I researched each Jazz character, I found that all of them had something I could use in my art that would tie the book character to the actual Jazz great. Thelonious Monk wore some pretty cool hats and I added one of them to my monkey character.  Some photos showed Duke Ellington wearing a top hat and playing a light colored piano, so I used that information when designing "Duck".  Miles Davis wore sunglasses in a lot of photos that I found,  so "Mules" sported some jazzy sunglasses. Each one wore something that I could include in my artwork to reflect the actual Jazz character.

The paintings were created with oil paints on Bristol board. I started with a pencil drawing, then a burnt umber acrylic underpainting, followed by a complete coating of acrylic gloss medium to seal the paper from the oils. After that, several layers of oil paint were added to complete the image. Lastly, a final clear coat of Liquin was applied to create a more uniform paint surface.

The Rooster hits the bookshelves this month so check him out!

Here are two really great videos from Kwame... very funny stuff!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I just received word that my newest book, Dream Big, Little Pig!  By Kristi Yamaguchi, has debuted at number two on The New York Times Best Seller list.  I couldn’t be happier about such great news.  Way to go, Poppy!


I’m now represented by Rubin Pfeffer and the East/West Literary Agency.  I’ve known Rubin since my very first book was published in 1986.  He was a wise guiding voice then and continues to be a great influence in my children’s book journey.  I look forward to future projects with Rubin and Deborah Warrren at East/West.  I mention this as we celebrate our first collaboration, Dream Big, Little Pig!

Monday, March 14, 2011


I had the privilege of serving on the panel of judges for this year’s Columbus College of Art & Design’s Art of Illustration exhibition. 
AOI at Rivet Gallery

The exhibit features the best of CCAD student illustrations and is organized entirely by students.  I was part of a group of professional alumni jurors, which included- Linda Bittner (CCAD, ’88), Tim Bowers (CCAD, ’79), Eric Fortune (CCAD, ’99), and Scott Hull (CCAD, ’77) as well as Illustration Chair C. F. Payne.
  Award winning image and artist, Tyler Bolyard.

Awards, including prizes from various sponsors, were presented for best of show as well as first, second and third place.  Additionally, five selections identified as “judges favorites” received an original work of art from the respective judge

My “judges favorite” selection was an image created by Tyler Bolyard (senior).  Tyler is a very talented artist with a promising future.  He actually had 5 pieces selected for this year’s AOI show, including a three-dimensional piece…awesome stuff!  I thought I’d shine the ole’ blog spotlight on Tyler for a job well done. To see more of his work, check out:

Bowers, Bolyard and "judges favorite" award.
The show opened March 5 at Rivet Gallery, 1200 N. High St. in Columbus (the Short North), and continues through March 25.

Wishing you the best-Tyler!

Well, back to the drawing board,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Art Block for Ghana

I had a chance to contribute to the Picture Book Project Foundation's Art Blocks for Ghana- a charity art auction of original works created by top artists within the animation and illustration community to promote boarding and education of orphaned children in Ghana, West Africa.
Your Move

A preview of the art was held in NYC and will now open in LA at Gallery Nucleus on March 12th, 2011.  If you are in the area, check it out.  There are some really great images that have been created for the event.

If you are interested in the auction or the art, you'll find more info. through these links:

March 12th 2011, 7pm-11pm
Gallery Nucleus Event and Launch of the Online Auction.

TWITTER  (follow and mention Art Blocks)

FACEBOOK (photos, updates and information) invite friends to "like" the page!/pages/Art-Blocks-For-Ghana/166672736692656


Auction Link



I hope it's a successful auction and will help a lot of children.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011



I was just informed that one of the books that I recently illustrated was selected for the IRA-CBC Children’s Choices 2011 List!


Memoirs of a Goldfish written by Devin Scillian, published by Sleeping Bear Press.
A great way to start the new month. 


Sunday, February 13, 2011


Tim’s first studio

I’ve created my artwork in a variety of spaces during my career.  As an employee at Hallmark, I worked in a small cubicle next to many other artists in small cubicles.  As a freelance artist, I’ve worked in: a kitchen, bedroom, garage, basement, laundry room and for the past eleven years, in a space actually designed to be a studio.

Hallmark artist cubicle

I’m not sure that it matters where I work.  I’ve painted some of my best images in small, tight quarters.  Maybe it’s different for each artist and depends on the type of art that’s created.
I think that it’s important to have a space set aside for creating your art, where you can feel comfortable, focus and be inspired.  It’s nice to work in a space that minimizes distractions but over the years, I’ve found that it’s sometimes unavoidable.  Good lighting is also very important and allows you to see color more accurately.  Years ago, a drawing table and cup of coffee were the only things I needed but through the years, that has evolved into a need for storage space, a work table for cutting, sculpting, assembling, etc., along with a computer and files (for the business side of things) and book shelves for my books.  A drying rack comes in handy when working on many illustrations at once (children’s book projects) and an area for projecting images (sketches) with an overhead projector.  A cup of coffee is still on the list.

The kitchen studio worked when I was single.  I ate at restaurants most of the time so the kitchen was available.  It was easy to grab a snack and I could clean my brushes in the nearby sink.  After I married, the kitchen wasn’t such a good idea.  Then, an extra bedroom was a much better place to work.

Soon after college and marriage, my wife and I moved from Ohio to Kansas City and I worked at Hallmark.  I also maintained a studio in our house, where the artwork for my first two books; The Toy Circus by Jan Wahl and Pajamas by Livingston and Maggie Taylor, were created in an unfinished basement room.

 Basement studio

After years of working in all kinds of spaces, I’ve landed in a nice, big studio with good lighting, storage and a coffee maker, of course.  It’s everything I could imagine as the ultimate workspace and it’s been great.

 Current studio

I appreciate having such a nice place to work but the next studio will likely be smaller and that’s fine with me.  As long as I’m comfortable, inspired and can focus on my work.  There are pros and cons to each studio and the challenge is to adjust and be creative in whatever space we have.

Well, back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dream Big!

I recently finished the artwork for a new book that will be published in the spring of 2011.  Dream Big, Little Pig was written by Kristi Yamaguchi and will be published by Sourcebooks, Inc.

It’s such an honor to work on this project.  Kristi Yamaguchi is an amazing person, a gold medalist in ice-skating, a winner of the popular television show: Dancing With the Stars and a champion for children through The Always Dream Foundation.

I really enjoyed developing the characters for her book.  The story is funny, heart-warming and an inspiration to anyone faced with challenges as they follow their dreams.

Kristi Yamaguchi is the most recent gold medalist I’ve worked with, but she’s not the first.  Many years ago as a high school student in Troy, Ohio, I landed my first job at a local sporting goods store.  The owner of the store was Bob Schul, the only American runner to have won the Olympic gold medal in the 5000 m, at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

I was a lousy sales person.  After I botched a few customer returns, Mr. Schul, knowing I had talent in other areas, allowed me to be the store’s artist.  I drew designs for jacket embroidery, team logos and various sport awards.  We were both much happier when I was drawing instead of selling.  Mr. Schul has been involved with the world of running for years.  He’s been a coach and mentor to many others with dreams of becoming a winning runner.

So, I’ve been fortunate to work with two Olympians, using their golden celebrity status to benefit others.   Whether skating, running …or drawing, becoming our best begins when we dream big.

Dream Big, Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi skates into your favorite bookstores in March 2011.  I’ll keep you posted.