I’ve been writing a blog for a long time. Perhaps I’ve never properly introduced myself.
Below are the answers to interview questions for an article for the online magazine Voyage Phoenix—which describe my life in the arts in a short summary…
My first foray into art (that I remember) was an incident when I was about 6, visiting my Grandma with my family. We went fishing and I got the idea that my fish would make a great stuffed animal—the iridescent scales inflamed my imagination. I was told I couldn’t bring the raw fish with me on the plane, resulting in a major tantrum. This was the start of wacky ideas for creating school projects throughout my education. This penchant for making stuff drove my parents crazy until I left home. After my 3rd year of college that it occurred to me to become an art major. A BFA in printmaking and two years working a dreary job took me back to school for an MA in Community College Education, majoring in art. Immediately after I graduated the economy plummeted and the age of adjunct art professors was born. Since then, most of my adult life has been spent working in art related jobs—arts administration, graphic designer and art teacher—1st grade through college. In between I had 2 wonderful children (wonderful husband too). I took several 2-year breaks from working at actual paying jobs to concentrate on making art full-time only to need to go back to work to make actual money. I always managed to squeeze in time for painting while working full-time jobs and raising my family. Ten years ago I took the plunge, with the support of my husband, (my children were dubious about my sanity), quit my teaching job to work on my art career full-time. We moved to Oracle (2 hours from Phoenix), where the cost of living is cheap and there are few distractions. I’m in heaven in my 650 sq. ft. studio, painting daily, showing and selling my work.
I’m a painter working in acrylics. I started out long ago with narrative figurative painting, mostly about my family, My husband is a landscape photographer and during our travels I got interested in the natural world and gravitated to painting landscapes. Eventually my attention was drawn away from nature to the architecture in Phoenix, especially the Phoenix Art Museum. I began a new series of overlooked spaces in public places. Then I got intrigued by water, scarce and thus magical in the desert. For about ten years I focused on painting water: running; stagnant; in lakes; rivers; puddles. I’m currently working on a new group of abstractions based on architectural details. I don’t abandon my earlier series, just juggle them all at one time more-or-less with more focus on the most recent obsession. I work on 4 or 5 or more paintings at a time, sometimes of all four series, jumping from one painting/one series to the other on my big wall easel in my beautiful studio adjacent to our home. I work to create complex surfaces with lots of layers and textures, using the many acrylic mediums, gels, pastes and various viscosity paints to achieve unique effects. My focus is on making beautiful paintings whatever the subject, complex enough to offer the viewer a new experience each time they see the painting and yet accessible and understandable at a glance. My work ranges in size from 10″x10″ to 58″x80″. Some paintings are on canvas, some on wood panels. I finish the edges so the work doesn’t need to be framed, just hung as-is and enjoyed.
I love having visitors come to my studio to see my work in Oracle. Just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can set up an appointment. There’s an annual Artist Studio Tour in Oracle every April where both my photographer husband James Cowlin and I show and sell our work from my studio. I’m usually in several shows around the valley. A good way to keep track of where I’m showing is to go onto my website, barbarakempcowlin.com, click on the contact page and sign up for my newsletter, which I publish about every two months. It lists current and upcoming shows. and painting workshops. on occasion. While on my website please look at my gallery which shows all four of my series. If you’re interested in purchasing a painting you can reach me via email (email@example.com) for pricing and other questions you might have. I’m on Instagram, @barbarakempcowlin and Facebook, facebook.com/barbaracowlin. Currently I’m madly at work preparing for a big 2-person show at the Chandler Center for the Arts Gallery with artist Autumn Rose, opening in January, 2019. You can support my work by visiting my website and sending friends there and coming to openings (bring friends!) Purchasing artwork and becoming a collector is the very best way to support any artist, especially me!