Art Maker: Olwen Dowling, painter and printmaker

  • Painter and printmaker Olwen Dowling of Chester works in her space at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Painter and printmaker Olwen Dowling of Chester is accompanied by her dog, Fionn, as she works in her space at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence recently STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Painter and printmaker Olwen Dowling of Chester works in her space at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Painter and printmaker Olwen Dowling of Chester works in her space at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “Vin Walking,” intaglio etching by Olwen Dowling. Image courtesy Olwen Dowling

  • “Cashel Boat,” oil painting by Olwen Dowling. Image courtesy of Olwen Dowling

  • “North Chester Bridge,” watercolor by Olwen Dowling. Image courtesy of Olwen Dowling

Published: 12/27/2019 9:33:24 AM

Born in Ireland but raised mostly in southern California, Olwen Dowling has a varied background in the arts. For over two decades she worked in many capacities in theater — producer, managing director, stage manager, scenery designer — for venues such as The Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival and The Chester Theatre (the latter of which she co-founded). She is also a former director of the Northampton Center for the Arts.

And for the past 25 years, Dowling, of West Chester, has been a visual artist as well. “I have been privileged to be a returning artist in residence at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland and am delighted to be a fellow artist in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts next spring 2020,” she says. Her prints and paintings are especially inspired by the Berkshires and Ireland. Dowling has also been a member of Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence for about 18 years.

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you’re currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Olwen Dowling: I’m working in drypoint/ monotype printmaking and loving it. I wanted to do something different in printmaking related to etching but with color. The drypoint etching and monotype made sense. I am also focusing on plant life and feel the relevance with climate change. I had a double degree from Smith College in studio art and plant biology. So, it was a familiar place to be.

HL: What do you draw inspiration from?

OD: My inspiration changes and can move from one area of nature to another. I am also moved by family life. I work in printmaking, oils and watercolors, and the subject matter often dictates the medium.

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

OD: Sometimes it’s hard to even know if a painting is finished. However, there was a wonderful Irish painter, Gerard Dillon, who once told my husband that when he went to bed at night, he would put the painting at the bottom of his bed on an easel. When he woke up, the first thing he would see would be the painting, and then he would know if it was finished or not. I’ve done a variation on that theme.

HL: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work.

OD: There are many I’ve studied and whose work I love, but a few who come to mind are Turner, Cassatt and Homer.

HL: What’s the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event by another artist or group that you’ve attended and enjoyed?

OD: During a visit to the National Gallery of Ireland, I saw the most extraordinary work of a Spanish painter, Joaquín Sarolla, whose oils and use of light and paint just seemed to move over the canvas. It was just magnificent.

HL: If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you’d be?

OD: I think I would have loved medical research of the brain or perhaps being an obstetrician. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than the birth of a child.

HL: Dream dinner party — who would you invite?

OD: Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Tom and Rita Hanks, Jane Goodall, David Attenborough, Lin-Manuel Miranda and perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt — but since the latter is impossible, Doris Kearns Goodwin would be my second choice.

HL: What is your go-to snack while you’re working?

OD: I am afraid it’s chocolate.

HL: Do you listen to music while working? What kind?

OD: I enjoy Diana Krall, Shirley Scott, Frank Sinatra on occasion and Bocelli the opera singer.

HL: What do you do when you’re stuck?

OD: I go for a walk or pick up a book. Nice things to fall back on, I think!

— Steve Pfarrer

Dowling’s website is olwendowling.com.


Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Daily Hampshire Gazette Valley Advocate

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy