Jan Bower is the Drawing with Realism instructor on Schoolhouse Teachers.com and the artist behind the popular Drawing Success curriculum. I had the chance to ask Jan
about the joys and challenges she faces as
TOS: When did you discover your love
Jan: I remember vividly at age two sit-
ting by my mother’s easel as she painted
my portrait. I was mesmerized as I saw
oil paint being pushed around the can-
vas. As a picture developed, I remember
feeling as if creating a picture like that
must be about the happiest thing a per-
son could do! I knew that I wanted to try
that someday, and when I finally did, I
was hooked for life.
I struggled a bit with reading in ele-
mentary school, but one day I found a
library book with fascinating illustra-
tions that drew me in. I wished that all
books had such interesting pictures.
Now, as I illustrate books, I keep that in
mind. Art can help stories come alive.
TOS: What is the hardest part of drawing a realistic-looking picture instead of
a cartoon type of image?
Jan: Creating art that looks realistic takes
desire, training, practice, and patience.
It never just “happens” while doodling.
There certainly is a place for cartooning,
but sadly, it’s getting harder and harder to
find realistic-looking illustrations. Part
of the reason is that, generally speaking,
less realistic art is cheaper to publish be-
cause cartoons are typically quicker to
create and fewer people have invested
the time and practice necessary to learn
how to paint and draw with realism. The
rarer the skill, the more costly it is to uti-
lize. That’s why you can buy a caricature
of yourself at a carnival for $15 but can’t
find a skilled oil portrait artist to create
an heirloom for anywhere near that price.
TOS: What is it about art you love the
Jan: Two things come to mind. One is the
challenge. Imagine your favorite piece of
artwork. Like every other project, it had
“I’ve seen how skillfully
done art can be life-
changing, delivering truth
and sparking understanding
in someone else.”
View . . .
Bonnie Rose Hudson
A Teacher’s View on
. . . Art!
An Interview with