The November 26, 2021, cover of Dan’s Papers comes to us from talented Florida-based artist David Bowers. Currently repped by Ric Michel Fine Art in New York and galleries across the country, Bowers has designed over one hundred book covers, had his artwork featured on the cover of magazines such as Time, painted portraits of influential figures such as J.P. Morgan and the Rothschild family, and earned countless awards for his illustrations and fine art. Here, he explains his process for creating “White Meat,” studying the work of the Old Masters and more.
What inspired this week’s cover art, “White Meat?”
I was visiting with a friend who had a stuffed turkey he shot during hunting season along with a pretty model that was willing to pose for me. I loved the contrast between the beauty and the beast, so the idea just kind of morphed into an idea. The title is a play on words. In my opinion, I don’t believe that wild turkeys have much white meat, but you can use your imagination to fill in the rest.
How was this piece created? Walk us through your process.
I first begin with small brown ink sketches to establish the composition. From there, I use friends and sometimes family or professional models to pose for me in which I take numerous photographs. These photographs are then pieced together from my favorite photos to produce the final drawing. For example, I may use a hand from one photo or facial expression from another one and combine them to get the look that I’m after. After the drawing is completed, I’ll enlarge a photocopy and transfer the image onto the linen. The underpainting is the next step and usually begins with burnt sienna or burnt umber, very much like some of the old masters. Now the tedious work begins when I apply many layers working from background to foreground. This process continues until I’m satisfied with the final result.
What makes this artwork such an ideal fit for a Dan’s Papers cover?
I’m assuming it’s for the Thanksgiving issue.
How would you describe your art style, and how did you develop it?
I describe my work as “realism with an edge.” The idea is always the most challenging part of the process. I would never be satisfied by just painting a still-life of a bowl of fruit or a painting without some type of concept. In my opinion, it is all about the concept.
I’m pretty much self-taught because we had very few painting classes when I went to art school many years ago. I’ve studied the old masters’ work for many years by visiting some of the greatest museums of the world. I once was scolded at the Frick in NYC because I was too close to a Vermeer painting. When visiting museums, I do my best to find an area where the guards are not around so I can study the paint layers with a magnifying glass.
What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of?
When I was an illustrator at the beginning of my career, I was fortunate enough to do the cover for Time magazine and many other prominent publications, like Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado. When I transitioned into fine art, I’m just so grateful that I’ve made a living from my studio for over 30 years.
What do you find most rewarding about being an artist?
The fact that I can create whatever I want is awesome. I had to use an alarm clock to get up in the morning when I was an instructor at art school in Pittsburgh, PA and now it’s so easy to get up early and go to my studio and begin my day at the easel. I am very passionate about my work.
Where can your work be seen in the coming weeks, both online and up close?
You can see some of my work on my website or view originals at Gallery 1261 in Denver, Lovetts Gallery in Tulsa and Palm Avenue Fine Art in Sarasota. Rc Michel in New York has been showing my work on his website for many years and is a true gentleman. He had one of my paintings this year that didn’t sell and had no problem at all sending it to the Tulsa gallery because they had an interested client that bought the painting.
Would you like to share any closing thoughts?
There are many great artists in the field, so it is very humbling that I can make a good living selling my paintings. It is an awesome career that makes me smile every day!