"Using Middle America as her muse, Kowch draws the history of a particular place -- invariably rural -- to the surface as it collides with a new reality in layers of metaphor and moodiness. The faces of her women may remind you of characters in a Tim Burton film."
--Steve Parks, Newsday

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! With 2008 coming to a close, I'd like to give thanks to everyone for your continued friendship, support, and interest in my work. You all keep me moving forward, and I look forward to continuing sharing my artistic journey with all of you. Thank you. May you all experience joy and happiness in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tag! I'm it! Seven Random Facts. . .

Last week I was tagged by friend and fellow artist Marcyanna Parzych. My turn, so here goes!

Game rules:

1. You must link to the individual who tagged you and post the rules of TAG (which you are currently reading).
2. Post 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Tag 7 friends and link to them and
4. Let them know that they have been tagged by leaving a nice little message on their blog.

My Facts:

1. I'm a paintaholic.
2. I collect Native American jewelry. You'll hardly ever see me without wearing at least some of it.
3. I am an active, proud supporter of Native American causes.
4. I love coffee, even though I don't drink a lot of it.
5. I have one other sibling, my brother, whom I'm very close to.
6. I love music. Art and music - no two things can be more connected.
7. Dance/Choreography/Performing is my favorite pastime. Up until college, I danced competitively as well as performed my own shows. I love the stage!

Friends I am tagging:

1. Dave Chow
2. Lee DeVito
3. Lauren Moyer
4. Kaylen Conley
5. Don Kilpatrick
6. Chelsea Kirchoff
7. Maureen O'Brien

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sneak Peek. . . Coming Soon!

Sneak Peek! Tons of new things from me are coming your way in the coming weeks and months. You probably already noticed the new imagery that graces the header above, as well as the image you see here. If you're wondering, "Hey! Are those the girls from the paintings?" you are correct! Stay tuned for an anthology I'll have coming out later in 2009 filled with past and present work, my personal writings about it, and recent photoshoots of me and my team in action. This is the first time I decided to go all out, leaving the quick reference shots that take place in my studio behind, and actually having my models get into character and go out with me on location. A sure treat for the eyes it will be, folks. In the meantime, think of this as a teaser.

Alongside this personal project, I'm illustrating a full-length children's picture book for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Motherhouse in Monroe, MI, to be published this summer and due out Christmas 2009. Work has already commenced on it, and I'm excited to now be delving into the long-term project.

Along with that, pages are being filled with new sketches for paintings, canvases are being prepped, a group show is in the works, and new juried competitions will be entered. Lots to stay on top of, and I'll be keeping you all posted!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Back. . .

During the course of this past month, I had the opportunity to give back to a person near and dear to me – Warren Mott High School art teacher, Mrs. Terri Dworkin.
Terri and I standing next to Warren Mott's new masterpiece.

Just part of the crowd that came to see what the buzz was all about.

Terri has been teaching art in public schools for a whopping 45 years, and is now retiring (or so we think!). Three years ago, she began forming what has now come to be the Warren Mott Art Gallery, a commemorative gallery featuring the work of prominent Warren Mott alumni dating back to the time of the school’s opening in the early 70s to the present, who have gone on to become working artists still practicing their craft today. Terri has worked tirelessly, researching and tracking down all past alumni to donate works of art. The response was immense, the gallery was born, and the high school now has devoted the entire wing to the art department as a result. Since the gallery was established in 2005, Terri held a grand opening and open houses that have garnered the press, and where members of the Warren community have been coming to gather with various alumni to embrace art and its vital role in the community as a whole. This is an art teacher who truly makes a mark.
Terri working on her contribution to the mural.
Posing for the cameras with Terri's colleague, WMHS art teacher Elena Fernandez and Terri's student teacher, Mallory Champine; two great ladies who stayed late with me those Monday nights helping to pull it all together.

Along with this mural, many hours of preparation went underway for a final major celebration, which kicked off this past Wednesday, known as Art Bash 2008. People from all over came to view the recent gallery acquisitions, as well as celebrate Terri’s retirement. This mural will be a priceless asset to both Terri’s legacy as a teacher, as well as to the community, who will have it to enjoy for generations to come. It was a true honor for me to give back to both Terri and the local art community in such a way by directing this, and working with fellow artists, art students – and even some of the school’s administrators who searched their artistic side and contributed. The mural’s unveiling to the public at the celebration this past Wednesday was certainly a wonderful moment. I’m not alone in giving thanks and kudos to Terri for everything she’s done in helping shape me and countless others into the artists we all wanted to become. Her relentless passion, wisdom, and gift for teaching will always be something we’ll carry with us, and we all look forward to seeing what she’s going to do next. Listed below is the official release and the names of all who contributed:

The Artists
By Artists-2008

One of the most delightful new acquisitions of the Warren Mott Art Gallery is the artists. Conceived and coordinated by Andrea Kowch, BFA Illustration, College for Creative Studies 2008, the artists is an 80” X 80” mural on the wall that is adjacent to the entrance of Art Room, 131. The mural depicts 9 giants of the art world (Dali, Gauguin, Monet, Kahlo, Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, da Vinci, and Warhol), walking down a corridor. The mural is divided into 20 individual canvases. Each canvas has been completed by an artist affiliated with Warren Mott either as a former student or as a member of its faculty. Individually the canvases are unique and memorable, but as a whole, the collective efforts prove that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each canvas was developed in the contributing artist’s medium of choice and then reassembled to create this gestalt.

The canvases are identified by the contributing artists from left to right, four across, in each of five rows, as follows:

1. Trish Stone, Physics teacher WMHS
2. Anne Marie Lange, 2007
3. Colleen Spanke, 2002
4. Cathy Neuhoff, Assistant Principal, WMHS, North House
5. Mallory Champine, Student Art Teacher, 2008
6. Arlene Bugeaud Mylenek, 1973
7. Lynne Spanke, 2003
8. Jim Eagan, 1975
9. Stephanie Sucaet, 1999
10. Billy o’Bryan, 1972
11. Adrianne Baranowski, 2002
12. Jeanine Brackenbury, 2002
13. Rich Mylenek, 1973;
14. Trisha Szalach Kniffen, 1973
15. Elena Fernandez, Art teacher WMHS
16. Colleen McBride, 2010
17. Tom Conrad, 2003
18. Karen Pipesh Porter, 1986
19. Salam Yousif, Ell tutor, WMHS
20. Terri Dworkin, Art Teacher WMHS
21. Andrea Kowch, Mural Director and Pole Decorator.

A multitude of photos documenting this huge project from start to finish (as seen below) with captions can be viewed on Flickr here. There's lots to see. Enjoy, and THANK YOU to all who helped, contributing their time, energy, and artistic genius to make this all happen. We did it!

WMHS Class of '03 grad, and my fellow College for Creative Studies alum, Tom Conrad having a blast helping us paint the pole.
Tom working on his piece for the mural.
Trisha (WMHS '73) and I prepping the canvases for the mural on the first night of the project.
**Update: The project and event ended up making front page of the Sunday Edition of The Macomb Daily Newspaper. The article can be read online here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SPECTRUM 15 now available!

It's finally here, folks! I'm excited to announce that SPECTRUM 15 is now available for purchase! For those of you just stopping by, please see my previous posts with prior info on this here and here. It's going to feel unreal to finally get this in my hands, and see No Trespassing in it. Available at all major bookstores. Click here to order your copy!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween. . .

A quick little pen and ink drawing I did for my favorite day of the year. May you all have a wonderful All Hallow's Eve, filled with fun, stories, mystery, and magic :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

27th Detroit International Wine Auction

This summer I had the great opportunity of creating the artwork for the 27th Detroit International Wine Auction campaign. Sponsored by General Motors, the Wine Auction is a major fundraising event for the College for Creative Studies, with proceeds underwriting student scholarships and community outreach programs for high-risk Detroit youth. The two-day fundraiser begins on Friday, October 24 with the Vintner’s Dinner and Auction, presented by Cadillac, at The Capital Grille, Somerset Collection, and the event continues with the Gala Dinner and Auction on Saturday October 25th at the GM Wintergarden and GMnext.

Above is the invite for the event, which kicks off tonight, and below is the save-the-date card that preceded it, which used my Tuscany illustration. I had a great time working alongside designer Kate Scheible in seeing these go to completion and am excited to know it all will grace the big event this weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A memorable evening at the "Caught In the Act" Exhibition Opening

Indeed it was a night to remember for me this past Friday at the opening of the "Caught in the Act" Exhibition, the 6th annual international juried show put on by the Northbrook Public Library located in Northbrook, an upscale northeast suburb of Chicago. The exhibit showcases work by over 90 different artists, and results in the purchase of an artwork for the library's permanent collection, in the quest to enhance the library’s profile as a place of visual culture.

I was the first place $2,000 Purchase Prize winner this year, and still cannot find words to describe how honored and humbled I am as a result. I need to pinch myself each time I think of Unexpected Company as now being part of a public permanent collection, for the multitudes to enjoy. I was honored to meet with the library's directors, the show's jurors, artists with work in the show, and some of the sponsors of this year's Purchase Prize, known as Friends of the Northbrook Public Library. What a night! Huge thanks to my mom for coming along and being by my side to celebrate with me, my brother who built the monstrosity of a crate to get the painting shipped there safely, my friends and models, Jen and Tori who couldn't make it out to the show (we can go visit the painting now, girls!), and of course, everyone involved with the Northbrook Public Library and the "Caught In the Act" Exhibition, for putting on such a great show, and supporting the careers of emerging artists like me with opportunities like this so that we can continue to do what we do. Thank you all!

You can learn more about the show, and browse the work of this year's contributing artists online at the official website here. Below are some additional photos from the show. To view more visit my Flickr album here.

Exhibition juror, Judith Joseph and Northbrook Public Library's Assistant Director, Eric Robbins, and I.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Time spent in a rural paradise. . .

Last week, friend and fellow painter Kaylen Conley and I spent a whole day catching up, painting en plein air and driving back roads seeking inspiration in Mother Nature. By now it's probably common sense that I frequent the countryside. But not until spending a day on and around Kaylen's farm was I able to thoroughly experience the beauty and solitude of life out in the country. Soft, rolling fields, the call of crows in the distance mingled with the quiet hush of insects in the tall, sweet-smelling grass, the warm sun on my back . . . everything that surrounded me was real, pure, and unmoved . . . and, as expected, it moved me, and confirmed all the thoughts and feelings I associate with it. The most touching moment for me was captured in the shot I took above, where we had to stop the car for the swarms of blackbirds engulfing every direction. It was as if I had stepped into Blackbirds Are Gathering. The weather on that warm autumn day was unmatched, and I was able to capture lots of new reference that will find its way into a couple of new paintings that I currently have in the works.

The above photo was where I sat and painted this quick pen and watercolor study:

And the scene also found its way into my latest sample of children's book work:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Upcoming Group Show

I'm pleased to announce that my painting, Unexpected Company has been selected to appear in the Northbrook Public Library's 6th Annual International Juried Exhibition! It was also exciting to find it among the pieces selected to be used for the show's poster and promotional materials as well. So if you're in the Chicago area the weekend of October 3, come out to the opening and check out the show!

Save the Date:

Northbrook Public Library
1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062

Caught In The Act
Art and the Written Word

A juried show featuring original pieces from artists across the globe, exhibited in a variety of media.

October 3 - October 31, 2008
Opening Reception: October 3, 7:30 - 9:00 pm

Work now featured on BrushSpace

I have recently been invited to feature my work on BrushSpace, a new and fast-growing online community of illustrators, painters, and designers. Be sure to check it out at http://www.brushspace.com/ and browse through over 900 fabulous artists working in a multitude of different styles and media, and view their online galleries. I'm beyond thrilled to be currently ranking among the top 25 most followed. So, stop by the site, and enjoy. While you're there, by clicking on "Follow this Artist" all you need to do is enter in your email address, and from then on you'll be immediately notified of any new piece I upload to my gallery. So come on by, be one of my followers, and discover some more cool art along the way.

Feel free to browse and find me on the list, or go directly to my profile at www.brushspace.com/artist/Andrea-Kowch

Sunday, August 31, 2008

"No Turning Back"

24" x 48"
acrylic on canvas

My latest. More personally influenced than some of my previous ones, part of the idea stems from the realization that experiences present themselves because they are there to teach us about ourselves. We've all had our share of experience, good and bad, and, odd as it may seem, it's the harder ones that eventually leave us with a feeling of gratefulness for them in the end, because of what they showed us, what they taught us, and the positive ways in which they ended up shaping us.

This painting is about new beginnings, when we come to terms with things past, and move on once and for all. While it may seem strange, maybe even negative at first glance, it is, in fact, positive. Farmers burn their fields each year to cleanse the earth of any lingering diseased crops and prepare the land for re-seeding. So, like the way in which fire paves way for nature's re-growth, the flames symbolize purification and renewal. Will the house catch fire? That's where a lot of the suspense lies in this piece. The figure is not in the house. The swallows who nested in the upstairs room are leaving, too. All the living things are free. The house is old, decaying, a thing of the past. So maybe it will burn to the ground. She doesn't care. She broke the strings that tied her down, making her free to move on. As perilous as it looks, she's never felt safer. She's moving on, and not turning back.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Exploring New England

Last week, I had the amazing experience of visiting the East Coast. Thanks to my younger brother who is beginning college in Boston, I was able to finally make my dream of visiting New England a reality. Those of you wonderful folks who read this blog are, by now, probably well aware of my deep-rooted interest in early American history. So, imagine me finally being able to visit places like Boston and Salem, Massachusetts! Unreal and totally invigorating! And dare I mention inspiring? After doing illustrations for stories like The Crucible, The House of the Seven Gables, and Sleepy Hollow, you bet I was absolutely thrilled to be in the presence of the real things.

But, aside from trying to take in all I could in my quick day-trips to places like Salem and other surrounding areas, the place that will forever leave its mark on me is the Olson House in Cushing, Maine – the site and inspiration that gave birth to over 30 years of work by Andrew Wyeth. We all know his most famous work Christina’s World, the most beautiful, haunting painting to ever grace the face of American art. I remember the first time I saw Wyeth’s work. It was Braids, one of the Helga paintings, which I came across in a book back in high school. All I remember was sitting and staring at the image, wide-eyed with awe. A few years later when I was a senior, my teacher had hung a large poster of Christina’s World on the wall. It was the first time I had seen it, and I felt something I couldn’t explain. It still does the same thing to me today. And, after many hours of reading and researching the poignant and touching story of Christina Olson and her brother Alvaro (direct descendants of the Hawthornes from Salem), it’s no wonder why the Olson paintings are so powerful. When I was there, it all felt like a dream. Totally surreal. It still feels that way recalling it. It's hard to even find a place to begin describing it. Janice Kasper, Curator of Historic Properties for the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, ME, explained it best in her introduction for Wyeth's retrospective of the Olson paintings at the Farnsworth back in 2000:

Over the past nine years, I have seen the effect "Christina's World" has had on the public through my association of managing the Olson house for the Farnsworth Art Museum. My very first experience involved a person who flew to Boston from North Carolina, rented a car and drove to Cushing to see the house after hearing that it had recently opened to the public, and drove back to Boston the same day. Since then, I have encountered many others who drove from out of state to see the Olson House and, after visiting the site, returned to their home towns the same day. Many remember seeing a print of the painting "in their school, or their home, or the doctor's office" and that strong image from childhood has remained vivid in their adult minds. Some are intrigued with the mystery of the woman in pink crawling up the hillside, while others being disabled themselves, or having relatives with disabilities, identify with the disabled Christina Olson. For some, the farmhouse on the hill is reminiscent of their parents' or grandparents' home in Iowa, Maine, or almost anywhere in the United States. The painting and the farm evoke pleasant memories of family times together, times of hardships, a time that was closely lived with the natural world. Through "Christina's World," people are intensely drawn to the old saltwater farm in Cushing, and like the painting itself, their reasons for being there are strongly felt but unexplainable. At the house, I have often witnessed people who are so overcome with emotion that they are brought to tears. Another common occurence is to have people linger the entire day at the site, not wanting to let go of the experience.

The Olson House brought me to Maine, and as a result, Maine won me over, too. The Wyeth Center at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, ME is a must-see for Wyeth fans, housing breathtaking originals by N.C., Andrew, and Jamie.

I have LOTS of pictures that I want to share with you all, so I uploaded them to Flickr (with captions) to make it easy for everyone to see. There you'll find my excursion to Salem, MA, where I spent a warm evening at the House of the Seven Gables and the birth house of Nathaniel Hawthorne, surrounded by a breathtaking harbor and lush gardens (unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the houses, but let me assure you, it is unreal! Filled with 300-year-old secret stairways, hauntings, and all!), and my misty Maine morning at the Olson House in Cushing, ME. New England is everything I expected and more.
To visit my online photo albums, click HERE.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gagaguwon Pow-wow '08

During the last weekend of July, I had the pleasure of once again attending the annual Gagaguwon Pow-wow, held in Oscoda, Michigan by the banks of the beautiful AuSable River. Hosted by the Preservation of Native American Culture (PONAC) each year, it's an event I always make a point to attend, being an avid collector of native jewelry and a staunch supporter of American Indian artists. It was great to see the new traders that were here this year, and even more great to see some familiar faces that I had the opportunity to meet again. So, I spent my weekend absorbed in all the beautiful handmade goods, stuffed my face with signature Indian frybread, listened to moving prayers of thanks, watched dancers in their breathtaking regalia, and walked away with, not one, but a few new pieces of jewelry. As a result, I'm not allowed to treat myself to anything for a few good months, but oh well!! I probably can speak for a lot of collectors in saying that if you find something that you just know is for you, it's a good idea to grab it, because once it's gone, it's gone, and there'll never be another like it.

I started collecting only about two years ago, but it's growing slowly and surely, thanks to the artists and other wearers who help me along in what to look for in terms of craftsmanship and authenticity. I learn something new with each piece, and that's a major part of the beauty and thrill of it. Southwest Art magazine's current issue is the 2008 annual which devotes itself entirely to contemporary Native American art, and it's the best one I've seen yet. Check it out here. You can also visit PONAC's official website here, as well. Hats off to this organization for all they do! Migwich (thank you)!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


24" x 30"
acrylic on canvas

A portrait I just completed for an upcoming competition of a great woman and dear friend of mine, Jeppie Scott-Cook. Jeppie is one of those people who I'm blessed to know, let alone call a friend. It's hard to find a place to start in beginning to describe this lady and the role she plays in the lives of people who know her. A person full of wisdom, and deeply rooted in her faith, there's never a day where Jeppie isn't wearing a smile or blessing people who cross her path.

Jeppie and I met a few years ago, and since then, I've been able to listen to her stories and hear her advice on all aspects of life. A single parent in her youth, who raised four children on her own while attending modeling school, Jeppie worked with dreams of making it big in the modeling industry. After completing, she got a call to fly to New York and begin her career, so she packed her bags and was ready to go - only to take one look at her kids and give it all up to stay and raise them. I think this one story alone is enough to give you a bigger picture of Jeppie's character. Being one whose personally gone through some rough patches in past times, I find her fun-loving attitude and strong spirituality to always be deeply healing, because aside from being plain fun to be around, Jeppie's real, she's been there, and like she reminds me, no matter what things come our way, life is a blessing, and it's only a matter of time before the bad will leave, and the good will come pouring in. Truer words couldn't be spoken, and it's a point I think we can all live by.

So, with that said, this painting serves as a tribute to one of the most beautiful people I know. Jeppie's love for the outdoors, the cross and scarf she always wears, and her exotic blue eyes are all the unique features I wanted present in this portrait. I also decided to hold back on some of the usual detail I put in my landscapes, choosing, instead, to keep it mostly solid and graphic so that the focus does not shift too far from the figure.