Nowlin considers himself fortunate to have grown up Texan, in a small farming community, and during the middle of the twentieth century. His family frequently made a six hour trip on highway 36 to visit relatives. Most all of the journey passed through areas that in the 1950s and 60s, were still very rural, and those traveling hours were spent studying the countryside. A high school encounter with reproductions of Edward Hopper’s ‘Gas’ and ‘House by the Railroad’ helped him bridge the connection between art, Texas scenery, and the vague emptiness he felt. An unexpected chord was struck as Hopper made him realize that art was not limited to historical and religious scenes but could be of those things with which he was most familiar. From that point on he felt that kind of art needed to be a part of his life.
Following high school graduation, Nowlin headed to Texas A&M University to study architecture and to map out a career. After two years he understood that he was not appropriately attuned to be in an institution that was still 99 percent male. Nor was he comfortable with the inherent restrictions of the study of architecture, which was not fulfilling his creative needs. Serendipity intervened and he spent the next five years studying art at the University of Houston.
In Houston he had the good fortune to have as his mentor and primary instructor, John Alexander. During the 1970’s the University of Houston had become amajor contributor to a new group of national artists known as the ‘Other Coast School’. This group included Richard Stout, William Anzalone, Jim McDermott, and David Hickman. Nowlin considers these men instrumental to his growth and understanding of all that ‘art’ entails.
During the 1970’s Nowlin’s work was handled through the Cooperative Gallery in Downtown Houston. Following the family’s move to Georgetown in 1978, he exhibited exclusively through the Patrick Gallery in Austin, selling not only to individuals, but from one show, more then ten works to Texas Commerce Bank of Houston. After Mrs. Patrick’s retirement and closing of her Gallery, his work has been sold privately, by commission, and through occasional exhibitions.