IN THE STUDIO: A conversation with Sandra Stowell

Posted 2/14/24

By Carolyn Lewis


A studio visit is an excellent way to get an inside look at an artist's creative process and gain a more intimate view of their work. Sandra Stowell's studio, just a …

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IN THE STUDIO: A conversation with Sandra Stowell


By Carolyn Lewis


A studio visit is an excellent way to get an inside look at an artist's creative process and gain a more intimate view of their work. Sandra Stowell's studio, just a few steps from her home, is clearly a special place. Her property is a virtual outdoor museum and her creations are everywhere. A pathway through her garden leads to a lovely, spacious studio. The first thing one notices is the diversity of styles and mediums, and collections of interesting items that provide Stowell with inspiration.


Q: How would you describe your work?  

Stowell: My art is a visual journal of experiences and emotions. I try to communicate what I feel as I attempt to make sense of a chaotic world. My subject matter may be mysterious even to me, but my work reflects events in my own life, world events, history, and other artwork. I attempt to add enough depth and complexity so that the work remains interesting over time. Nature and the outdoors is so important to my happiness, and this is reflected in my work. I am a mixed media artist and I use sculpture, photography, digital transformation, drawing and printmaking in my work. I like layers, texture, low relief, full 3-D, light, and translucency. I save and use my small works as elements in larger physical and digital collages. I incorporate or transform drawings, prints, and experiments in new projects.


Q: How has your cultural background influenced your artistic expression?

My grandfather was a painter, and I had access to Western art books as a child. But my British parents traveled when I was young, and acquired books about other cultures. I think this exposure to the history and art of other countries was very important to me. I saw and enjoyed a wide variety of art and craft work, and I don't think it is difficult to see some of these influences in both my style and my subject matter. For example, I was born in Egypt, and although I left at the age of one, I am fascinated by the art of ancient Egypt. Visit my studio to see the ways that shows up in my work.


Q: How do you select materials for your work?

I am a gatherer. Since I am a mixed-media artist, the found objects I collect often get incorporated in my artwork. I love natural objects: leaves, seeds, pebbles, twigs, shells, and larger pieces of driftwood. I also pick up many made items which I find interesting if used out of context, or perhaps are damaged by time or in other ways that interest me. I like old rusty metal, twisted discolored wood, and even pieces of string or rope. I find it more satisfying to reuse than to purchase something new


.Q: How has your style or approach evolved over time?

My artwork has become more ambitious and complex, but there are certainly many themes that continue in my work. I do less drawing and more sculpture in recent years, and I incorporate relief elements in almost all my 2-D pieces. I still don't work by theory or on a detailed plan, but I do feel my sense of balance and color has improved with time.


Q: What role do emotions and personal experiences play in your art?

Life events and my emotions clearly affect my artwork. Themes in my work include aging, death, disasters, and climate change. But there is also joy and wonder in my work. I try to see beauty in everything, and I don't want to be fascinated through ugliness. Rather I try to make something interesting or beautiful in my work even if the inspiration and subject may seem morbid.


Q: How do you find a balance between creating art for personal fulfillment and creating art for the public?

I don't know that I have found a balance. I chose a salaried career over art in order to make a living; this allows me to please myself. I welcome studio visitors, and I enjoy showing and selling my work directly from my studio. I try to present my work so that it is ready to hang, or create sculptural work that is stable and manageable, but the inspiration and aesthetics are my own. My work is unusual and is certainly not commercial. 


Q: Do you have a favorite art movement or period that resonates with you?

That is a difficult question, and the answer changes with time. When younger I especially loved Medieval and Renaissance art, but now I get enjoyment from more recent artwork. Jamie Wyeth, Paul Klee, and Giorgio Morandi … are a few artists that come to mind. I appreciate the works of Auguste Rodin and Alberto Giacometti. I like mystery and depth of feeling in a painting. I usually prefer work with texture, and a style that reflects the energy and efforts of its creator. I love deep colors, Japanese woodblock printmaking and fabrics, and Inuit carvings.


Q: Where can we view your work and find out more about what you are doing?

The best way to see my work is to visit me in my studio. I am holding an open studio Feb. 17 and 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 314 33rd St., in Port Townsend. My website is online at, and my blog of works in-progress is at


Carolyn Lewis is a serial entrepreneur, artist and community builder happily living and working in Port Townsend. Visit her Facebook Group at Port Townsend Life or on Instagram @linalewisart