"The Piece Maker" - Eric Dowdle
I think it's safe to say that most jigsaw solvers are familiar with Dowdle brand puzzles. Even if you haven't solved one, it's likely you've seen them online, or at any of several major retailers, where they are consistent best sellers (tens of millions sold to date). And while they may appear similar in style, each Dowdle image is a unique piece of folk art created by Lindon, Utah based artist, Eric Dowdle.
One of my favorite Dowdle puzzles is “London,” featuring many of the iconic structures of the town, as well as the River Thames, and a few recognizable characters he added for fun.
Another favorite shows the town of Cannon Beach, a popular coastal town in Oregon. I visited Cannon Beach many times with my family, and the puzzle brings back memories of the fun we had. The primary feature of both town and puzzle is Haystack Rock, a rock formation surrounded by tidepools that can be explored for hours (days). Just don’t get caught out when the tide comes in! If you’ve seen “The Goonies” you’ve seen Haystack Rock, as it was prominent in the film.
But as beautiful as the puzzles are, they’re not the reason I’m writing this today. It’s time to switch gears and get to the point.
Last year, Discovery+ started airing “The Piece Maker,” a series that follows Eric Dowdle through his creative process. The episodes give insights into the cities or landscapes he’s planning to paint, and we hear his thoughts on why he wants to include certain elements in his art. There are also several glimpses of Dowdle in his studio, sometimes sketching and revising, sometimes actually putting brush to canvas. But the real meat of the show - the bit that makes it worth the watch - is the research.
I don’t have a Discovery+ subscription, but I was able to view the first episode on HBO Max (it’s also available on Prime Video), which features Dowdle’s research for his painting/puzzle called “Anchorage: The Gateway to the Wild.” In the show, we watch as he talks to a “whale whisperer” who takes him out to see a pod of orcas; we explore with him as a bush pilot takes him on a tour of the glacier’s edge; we see him watching native animals at a a wildlife center (think bears, moose, etc); and we see his interview with an Iditarod racer, who takes him on a summer training run. Listening to Dowdle in the show, and hearing his thoughts on design, is interesting enough, but it’s the scenery that definitely steals the show! If you like Dowdle puzzles, be sure to check out “The Piece Maker.”
Phil (aka Puzzle Buster)