Former Redlands professor develops artful take on world

Former Redlands professor develops artful take on world


As a child growing up in the shadow of the Himalayas, Doug Bowman learned how to see the world around him from his mother, a professional painter.

"She taught me to look at and study my subjects, then to paint what I remember," said Bowman, a Yucaipa resident.

He painted as a child, and more than a half-century later, took up his brushes again after retiring from the faculty of the University of Redlands.

He will be the featured artist at the annual "Art, For Heaven's Sake!" show Oct. 12-14 at the Redlands United Church of Christ.

Bowman, 76, has painted about 800 canvases since his retirement, all from memory, not photographs. His mother, Canadian artist and art historian Louise Bowman, was not a fan of plein-air painting, in which artists work outdoors, Bowman said.

She did not live to see her son become a painter, nor does Bowman have any of her work.

"She gave all her paintings away to my dad's students," the soft-spoken artist said in a wistful tone.

His early desire to become an artist was discouraged by his father, Bowman said. Until he was 10, he lived in northern India with his parents, who were missionaries. Transplanted to California, Bowman studied music and philosophy at Occidental College, then went on to earn master's and doctorate degrees from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

An academic career followed, with work at Alma College in Michigan before he came to the University of Redlands, where he was one of the founding faculty for Johnston College. He taught religion and ethics and was the university chaplain for four years as well.

In 1978, he was named Professor of the Year and received the Robert Morlan Award for Academic Excellence.

In addition, he served as narrator for the university's annual "Feast of Lights" program for 18 years. Since his retirement, Bowman has devoted himself to his rekindled love of painting. He favors landscapes, still lifes and American Indian themes. He developed an affinity for the latter during his ministry in North Dakota early in his career, he said.

His first show, in 1999 at Peppers Gallery at the University of Redlands, featured his American Indian-themed works. He also has mounted four shows at the university's Alumni House and was the featured artist several years ago at the erstwhile EOS gallery in Redlands.

Several of Bowman's American Indian works also hang in La Calleta Palace, a medieval structure in Dinard, France. He is represented as well in French, British and German collections, where many art buyers seem to gravitate toward paintings of American Indians, Bowman said.

Many of his paintings are of natural scenes drawn from western United States locales. A recent trip to Greece sponsored by the University of Redlands resulted in a spate of paintings drawn from Bowman's memories of that journey.

"I think that the No. 1 concern of our age, which art must reflect, is nature," Bowman said.

He published an award-winning book on the environment, "Beyond the Modern Mind: The Spiritual and Ethical Challenge of the Environmental Crisis" in 1990.

"We are ripping off and hemorrhaging our world," said Bowman, his normally soft voice becoming more forceful. "I try to demonstrate the beauty of the world in hopes that people will see that we must preserve it."

He intends to exhibit about 80 canvases in his upcoming show, displayed in an atypical manner.

"I will transfer my whole studio to the church, including my easels and brushes, so that people can see how I work," Bowman said.

Along with canvases that are hung, he will stack many of his works against the walls so that visitors can browse through them at their leisure.

"I hope that people will find that more fun and interesting," he said., September 26th, 2007


The University has five Centers of Distinction.
student playing a cello

Redlands is committed to offering innovative learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom.

More »