Bill Owen was the man who was called, “The Cowboy’s Artist.” Bill was a member of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America, and his fervor for the American West can be witnessed in his art. Bill passed away in 2013.
Bill always felt compelled to record what he believed to be the true endangered species of our time: the contemporary working cowboy. He was extremely passionate about the importance of portraying each and every detail with complete accuracy.
His greatest accomplishments and proudest moments were realized when a true cowboy looked at one of his pieces and said, “That’s exactly the way it is!”
For all of Bill’s artistic achievements, he was especially proud of The Arizona Cowpuncher’s Scholarship Organization, which he founded in 1995 to help finance college educations for young people from the Arizona ranching community.
It’s Bill and Valerie Owen’s pursuit of open spaces that brought them to Kirkland, Arizona . Bill was born in Gila Bend, Ariz., and has lived all over the state, in hot and cool climates alike. As the towns kept growing, he kept moving in search of seclusion and land to call his own. Before building their home in Kirkland, which is nestled between Prescott and Wickenburg, the Owens lived on a ranch in a remote area outside of Globe, Ariz. In this rough country, they wouldn’t see another soul for weeks at a time. There, they spent their days tending to cattle and enjoying the rugged vistas.
The time came for a change, and Bill and Valerie eventually purchased a parcel of land from the Bill Ruger Ranch and built their home from the ground up. It’s in that quiet, open space that Bill can focus his attention on his art, without the distractions of a bustling city or a working ranch to divert him from his life’s calling. Situated high on a ridge, the Owens enjoy clear views of mountains and valleys all around them. “I don’t know where we could go and like it any better,” says Bill. While he has had a variety of studios over the years, this time he built one inside the house. Although the studio has a north-facing window, he keeps that covered with a blackout shade and relies on eight Color Correct fluorescent bulbs for consistent lighting no matter the time of day or season of the year – crucial for consistent color. “With the correct use of color, a painting will look good under bright light or dim light,” explains Bill. “I have been pulling my hair out for the past 20 years studying color and trying to get it just right.”
Above all, Bill cherishes quiet in the studio. “I can’t even let a dog in there with me,” he laughs. “I get so engrossed in my paintings that two or three hours will pass in what seems like 15 minutes.” That time spent in quiet contemplation of his art is something that his father ingrained in him from his earliest years. “My dad taught me, ‘Take pains with it, son,’” remembers Bill. “He taught me to do things right the first time and the importance of learning patience.” These life lessons rendered to him in his youth mingle with light and color on canvas for all to appreciate in his paintings.