Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Bold dream to paint life realized

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



If you think the life of a painter is all about easy self-expression, inspired masterpieces forming out of nowhere and glamorous openings at fancy art galleries, think again.

“I packed potato chips at Frito-Lay for 18 years,” said watercolorist Bev Jozwiak, who grew up in an artistic family and majored in fine arts at Western Washington University — but then relegated painting to the status of hobby while she did factory work.

Until: “At 35, I had a midlife crisis. Art was what I always wanted to do, and I realized I was just going crazy,” Jozwiak said. The only downside of leaving her potato chip job was “money. Luckily, I was married, and my husband said, ‘Go for it.'”

She went for it. And now you can learn to go for it, too, the Jozwiak way. That’s because, after penning the occasional magazine article about her work and how she does it, Jozwiak was asked last year to write a book by a far-flung fan who has followed her on Facebook — and who happens to be a small-press art-book publisher. That’s Chris Unwin of Creative Art Press, based in West Bloomfield, Mich.

“One day she wrote and said, ‘Your work is fabulous. Want to write a book?'” Jozwiak recalled.

She spent a year writing what became a 164-page, hardbound, how-to volume called “Painting Life with Life.” “It’s pretty basic, it’s for beginners, but it also has some things for people who are moving along. Some bigger, loftier things,” she said.

What’s big and lofty about the Jozwiak way is her insistence that — as the title of her book suggests — paintings must be “bold and dramatic,” strong on design and full of life. “A painting without emotion is boring,” she says in a statement from Creative Art Press.

Jozwiak urges students to find their own personal style: “This book will guide you, helping you to loosen up and discover who you are as a painter.”

It also will introduce you to Jozwiak’s world of ballet dancers (inspired by her dancing daughter, who’s gone professional), animals, children under umbrellas and everyday people. About 150 of her paintings are featured in the book — some showing their step-by-step construction.

Take a look at and scroll down a bit to see some sample pages that include artworks and detailed discussions about them. That’s the website where you can order the book, too. It’s $35 plus $5 shipping.

Jozwiak said that becoming a successful painter and painting teacher has meant she is busier than ever doing things other than painting. She’s answering email from gallery managers, watercolor societies and fledgling painters every day, she said. She’s scheduled to teach later this year in Arizona, Missouri and Michigan.

Her personal painting time doesn’t usually get underway until 11 p.m., she said. “Be careful what you wish for,” she said.

To learn more about Jozwiak and her work, visit

Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email

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