Gavin Bowyer

Gavin is a Bullclough Art School Tutor who has a passion for painting and drawing the ephemeral fragile natural world. He captures vivid poignant pictures with his stunning ‘Grisaille’ inspired portraiture.


About Gavin

My name is Gavin Bowyer and I am a professional portrait artist and creative arts practitioner. I am a Leek boy and for the past three years I have worked in Studio 6 at the Foxlowe Arts Centre in the beating heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands. Previously, I worked for twenty years as an award-winning Advanced Skills Teacher and Faculty Leader of Design Technology & Art in a local secondary school in Stoke-on-Trent. Unfortunately, in 2017, I succumbed to stress and anxiety and like so many teachers; I left the profession to pursue a career outside of formal education.  Throughout a traumatic year of recovery I tried to reconnect to myself and my family, rediscover my love of visual art and invest time to my talent for drawing and painting.

Early in my professional art career I saw drawing as a wonderful way of engaging with the peculiarity and beauty of the visible world. It was an opportunity to capture a fraction of a second of someone’s working day and illustrate ‘the silent majesty of the ordinary’. Today, the joy of mark making and draughtsmanship which describes an encounter is more than a visual experience. It’s about a feeling, a longing to be heard and to be seen. Ultimately, portraiture has allowed me to heal and to reconnect to myself. I have learned to see your own beauty you need to see it through the eyes of others. Art is an act of self love too, overcoming a sense of loneliness and connecting with others.

My Work

I am a ‘Grisaille’ inspired portrait artist and a true advocate for the importance of ‘good drawing’. While visiting the Foxlowe Arts Centre you will see examples of my work in my studio or in the Drawing Room Gallery. I hope you will share my view that colour is everything but black and white is more! Picasso claimed that, “…colour weakens.” Like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, I decided to purge it from my work in order to highlight the formal structure and autonomy of form inherent in my art. Black and white drawings and paintings allow you to concentrate on elements such as composition, value, lighting and form. The benefit of my black and white portraiture is that you can focus on the image as a whole and reach for deeper motives in the work that yearn for a fundamental longing for connection.

I work predominantly in pencil and graphite, although I do paint regularly in acrylic and oils As well as this, I enjoy experimenting in other mediums, charcoal, brush pen, pen and ink, chalk, collage and mono print. For over three decades, photography has played an integral part in my creative practice. However, I do enjoy working from memory, sketches, photographs or a combination of all three.  Photographs are a very useful for reference or maintaining some physical accuracy when working on the human form away from the subject or experience of being there.

Recently, I have successfully had two portraits accepted at the nationally recognised Pastel Society 122nd Annual Exhibition and the Society of Graphic Fine Artists 100th Annual Open Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London. Currently, I am collaborating with Sky Arts 2020 Portrait Artist of the Year finalist, Alvin Kofi in which we have completed portraits of each other. Both portraits examine our mutual respect and understanding of the technical approaches to portraiture. Also, before meeting face to face, the drawings examine our perceptions of each other’s work and the pending trepidation of connecting in the flesh for the first time. Kofi and I plan to exhibit the portraits jointly in the near future.

How to Buy My Work

You can purchase my artwork online and contact me via my website: , or find weekly updates and content on my social media platforms such as Facebook: gavin.bowyer.35 / Instagram: gavbowyer_portrait_art / Twitter: @GavinBowyer1.

I currently have a solo exhibition of 15 original art work and prints in Foxlowe Drawing Room Café, Leek – Also, I have original artwork for sale in the Stafford Guildhall Gallery, Stafford – Furthermore, I have portraiture in the Pastel Society 122nd Annual Exhibition – and The Society of Graphic Fine Artists – at the Mall Galleries, London – .

However, you can contact me via email:, mobile: 07592 779968 or visit Studio 6, Foxlowe Creative Hub (2nd floor), Stockwell Street, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 6AD

Famous Artists Who Have Influenced Me

My main artistic influences are a synthesis of British painters Walter Sickert and Lucien Freud and Italian Surrealist Alberto Giacometti. In their own unique ways each artist has provided a source of technical or thematic content to the way I approach to painting or drawing.  Walter Sickert’s interest in ordinary people was often painted in heavy impasto technique and with a narrow tonal range. His reliance on press photographs, attraction to domestic interior scenes and illustrations of failed communication between people is a constant appeal to me. Both Lucien Freud and Alberto Giacometti portraiture pose philosophical questions about the human condition, as well as existential and phenomenological debates. In particular, I am moved by Giacometti’s monochromatic portraits of his mother, wife and friends painted with an intense and relentless use of overlapping of lines and a scrutiny of the human image. I find his radical process of interrogation, in which he explored the representation of flesh, presence, distance and space of and his sitters, rendered them devoid of emotion or expression and invites the spectator to invoke meaning into the image.

My Workspace

I happily work in a shared studio space on the second floor Creative Hub of the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Stockwell Street, Leek. The public are permitted to visit me between the hours of 10am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday. Be warned, there is no lift, so visitors will need to be prepared to climb two flights of stairs (40 steps) to reach the loft space. Not only will you receive a warm welcome and an invite into this cosy creative enclave, you’ll be rewarded with a fabulous view of the famous prominent rocky ridge, the Roaches. In addition, visitors may notice the distinctive smell of turpentine, oil paint and coffee too. Meanwhile, you will find me sitting at my drawing board or standing by an easel and preparing portrait commissions or work for exhibitions. I am always happy and prepared to explain to visitors my range of available services and offers on display. Naturally, if clients visit and purchase directly from me they will benefit with studio, not inflated exhibition, prices.

Leek Open Studios and Art Trail

Leek Open Studios represents another extension to my artistic career and my heritage as a Leek local. I realise it gives me an opportunity to be part of a creative network and community, and share our creative endeavours together.  In addition, I appreciate being part of a collective helps to build something that will grow in the future, encourage and provide opportunities for other local creative’s. In turn, Leek Open Studios promotes a positive and vibrant outlook of the town as a place with a thriving creative community, which is a great place to live, work and visit. Professionally, the development of the website allows existing and new customers links back to my website and social media activities. It enables me to showcase projects I am currently involved in and further exposure of new work to a local audience who may be interested in me and my work.

Local Art Networks

Currently, I am working alongside On the Horizon Counselling Services CIC offering therapeutic art workshops for the local community. The sessions deal with the effect of isolation, anxiety, stress and depression as a result of lockdown the Covid-19 restrictions. (

I have organised a number of workshops for Borderland Voices group in Leek (

I regularly exhibit animal and human portraits at Stafford Guildhall Gallery. The gallery displays high quality artworks and products from a diverse range of UK based artists. Before lockdown I was invited to deliver a Freda Kahlo collage portrait workshop. I am awaiting notification when further workshops will commence in the future. (

I am the Artist in Residence and committee member of the Leek Blues and Americana Festival. In 2019 I was invited to create 14 artworks for the annual the five day event which takes place in October. I am planning to develop the range of artworks for 2021.  (

I am a Bullclough Art School Tutor which offers a spectacular meeting place and retreat for aspiring and established artists. I deliver short or full workshop master classes with the very best drawing instruction.  I enjoy sharing my skills, passion and experience with clients in human and animal workshops. (

Gavin Bower

April 2021