1130 Pine Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446
October 11, 2019

Capturing the Magic of Paso Robles

By Joe Kowalski

Capturing the Magic of Paso Robles

I like to describe my art as an experiment. It is always changing and evolving and I never stay exclusive to one medium. This comes from my very diverse background in art. Starting at a very young age, I began experimenting with pastels, color pencils, acrylics, and watercolor to draw whatever I saw and then throughout high school I practiced drawing portraits in pencil and charcoal. My professional degree in Graphic Design taught me computer digital drawing, map-making, and illustration techniques. For 20 years following I worked as a tattoo artist in Hollywood and Orange County and under the guidance of masters of the craft I perfected my skill in watercolor, painting designs or “flash” that decorated the walls of the shop. Now all of these rich and varied creative experiences inform my work here on the Central Coast – creating landscape and advertising illustrations that capture the magic of Paso Robles.

For the past several years now, I have been building up my portfolio with several projects. Sometimes I like to focus on pop culture to improve my composition and perspective techniques but other times I relax and work on my landscapes, color, and texture. I find it is best to change it up so as not to get burned out on one particular style. I choose my personal work and subjects based primarily on my familiarity with the subject and the challenge of the piece. I love to work on portraiture, especially celebrities because if they are off even a little your audience will notice it. Knowing this pushes me to get the likeness spot on; sometimes I will spend half the time it takes to work up a whole poster on just the faces alone. A personal goal I gave myself in 2018 was to have a dozen posters completed by the end of the year so I would have a solid portfolio to send to publishers, Hollywood art scouts, and comic book companies looking for talent. I was so committed to accomplishing this that I ended up with double the body of work I had planned on, with each piece better than the last.

With a never-ending supply of subject matter I tend to stick to my favorites. The movies and TV shows I grew up with allows me to map out the “story” and overall layout of the design easily. Placement of the main characters, emphasizing plot points, and funny little hints that other fans and I will understand. Of course, the occasional painting comes up that I do not know much about and that brings up a whole new challenge, which requires a little bit more research - thank goodness for Google! Maps and info-graphic illustrations have also been a way to exercise my artistic as well as my graphic design skills. To accomplish these lots of planning has to be done beforehand. Perspective and scale are also key to creating an effective illustration. Once the basic layout is final, the fun part begins. Adding creative touches like mountains and trees along the topographical features of a landscape is the most enjoyable of the procedure.

Recently I have been honored to create some amazing wine illustrations for local wineries and hospitality businesses. I feel this is a natural evolution of my art form: the combining of technical, historic, and general information in a piece of art gives me a whole new set of challenges and opens many new opportunities.

I would like to thank Studios on the Park for allowing me a platform to present my work; the past four months as a resident artist have been an amazing experience. I love the opportunity to be in front of the public and discus art and how it inspires us all. So far the fellow artists I have gotten to know really give me the urge to keep creating and pushing myself further. I can only hope that my work has done the same for them as well.

Joe Kowalski,


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