In a nutshell, what do you do?

When something moves me emotionally, I try and capture that feeling and visualise it onto canvas.

What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?

I keep notebooks full of words, phrases and feelings. Very often I’ll come across a piece of text and then find I can visualise how those words look as a painting quite clearly in my mind. I may mull over it for a few days and then eventually it becomes a race to try and get it out onto the canvas before it disappears or slips through my fingers. What I end up with isn’t always a faithful version of that original idea but that’s how it starts anyway.

Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?

When I started to show my work a few years ago I realised that there is often an assumption that abstract paintings are simply decorative. But for me, I’m totally clear that each painting is about something quite specific. Some people like to find out what this is, and some don’t. Either way is fine by me. I don’t know if that’s particularly unique though.

When are you most creative?

The initial ideas often come when I’m sitting on the sofa in the evenings trying to relax. To do the actual painting bit, I prefer to work in the mornings in natural daylight and find I often tail off around 2/3pm when I like to take the dog out and clear my head of all the fumes. To be honest, at the moment it’s not the initial ideas that are the problem, it’s the execution. Not all good ideas make it through to the other side.

Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I need a few uninterrupted hours at a time to get on with the physical, time consuming act of actually painting, but I can’t be by myself for too long, it makes me miserable. In fact I’m currently looking for a mentor or an art programme I can join so I can get some critical feedback on my work. It’s not good to work in a vacuum. Or not for me, anyway.


Did you seek being creative or did creativity find you?

I honestly feel I was born like it. I always remember painting and drawing as a child and vividly remember being at nursery school, aged four, when I painted a portrait of my Mum. Everyone loved it and I felt like a superstar. I think that’s the feeling I’ve been chasing ever since.

Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Definitely. I was brought up in my Mum’s flower shop in which I was constantly allowed to get mucky and play with stuff. I also remember the excitement of being given an A1 layout pad every Christmas from my graphic designer aunt. I must have been small, because I remember being able to sit in the middle of it and draw round myself. Also, my parents used to take me to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition every year – I’m sure that’s why I keep entering.

Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Not with creativity in general. But with painting, Yes. I lost my way after finishing my degree. I did Fine Art, Painting. But it was in the 90s when it was all pickled sharks and unmade beds. No one was painting. In fact, one of my tutors was Jake Chapman. That says it all really. So I ended up going into Graphic Design although I wasn’t a designer myself. Anyway, I went back to life drawing in 2014 and that re-ignited my passion for art after 20 years of not doing it at all.


Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

Without doubt there are three significant events that, together, propelled me from being a figurative to abstract painter and enabled me to make a full time living from my art. These events are the death of my father in 2007, the death of my friend Clare in 2014 and my father-in-law’s dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It was these three painful events that led me to stop painting what I saw and start painting what I felt.

Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Try not to fall into all the clichés of what you think an artist or creative should be. Show up, work hard, be generous and don’t take yourself too seriously. Art is a serious business, but you are not a brain surgeon.


Do you think creativity has defined you?

Yes, I can’t put my finger on it, but when I talk to other creatives across all disciplines I realise we share a similar perspective on life.

What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

I have a silly dream to take part in one of those Gumball Rally races across America. Not a sensible answer I know, but it’s the only thing that I’d like to do that doesn’t involve making art, looking at art or talking about art in some way.

T H A N K   Y O U

Find Abigail Bowen on Instagram and via abigailbowen.com.