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Artwork by Barbara Kemp Cowlin

Artist in Focus

My first foray into art occurred when I was about 6 years old while fishing in a lake near my grandmother’s house. The iridescent scales on the fish ignited my imagination and I got the brilliant idea that a fish would make a great play toy. When I was told I couldn't bring a dead fish on the plane, my response was a tantrum!

I promised myself that I would persist in being a full-time artist no matter what. But, right out of college, the economy tanked, and I was forced to accept jobs that would pay the bills. I always managed to squeeze in time for painting while working and raising my family.

About ten years ago, I took the plunge, and although my adult children were dubious about my sanity, I had the support of my husband, Jim, and I quit my teaching job to work on my art career full-time.

My home studio is located in the small town of Oracle, Arizona. Jim, who is a professional photographer, and I travel often throughout the Southwest and along the scenic U.S. Route 89 that runs from Mexico to Canada. While in my studio, I spend days experimenting with color combinations, patterns, and spatial relationships while working on various series simultaneously. My creative eye always gravitates to the minute details of water, plants, architecture, and man-made surfaces.

I promised myself I would never fall out of love with being an artist—and here I am, all these years later, still sticking to this promise!

Barbara in Focus


Bachelor of Fine Art - Northern AZ University, Flagstaff, AZ
Master of Art in Education - Northern AZ University, Flagstaff, AZ
Golden Artist Educator Certification


“Artlink 20th Annual Juried Exhibition” - Park Central Sprague, Phoenix, AZ, 2020
“It’s All Askew: Spatial Transformations” - Eric Fischl Gallery, Phoenix College, Phoenix, AZ, 2019
“Organically Askew” - Chandler Center for the Arts Gallery, Chandler, AZ, 2019
“The Power of Five Invitational” - Five15Arts, Phoenix, AZ, 2019
“The Art of Water” - Phoenix Airport Museum, Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, AZ, 2019
“10x10x10” - Mighty Tieton Warehouse, Tieton, Washington, 2019
“AZ Aqueous” - Tubac Center for the Arts, Tubac, AZ, 2018
“Small Works 2018” - Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY Guest curated by Sharon Louden, 2018
“All Art AZ” - Art Intersection, Gilbert, AZ, 2018
“AZ Otherworldly” - Tohono Chul Park Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 2018
“Water, Flowers and Askew” - Rancho Linda Vista Gallery, Oracle, AZ, 2017
“Painting Water” – Traveling Exhibition- Casa Grande Art Museum, Page Art Museum, AZ, and other venues, 2017, 2016, 2015
“Square Foot #5 Exhibition” - Projects Gallery, Aqua Art, Art Basel, Miami, 2017
“Liquidity” - Three Woman Exhibition, First Studio, Phoenix, AZ, 2017
“The Drawing Studio Faculty Retrospective” - Mesch, Clark & Rothschild Law, Tucson, AZ, 2016

“Square Foot #4 Exhibition” - Projects Gallery, Aqua Art, Art Basel, Miami, 2015
“Southwestern Invitational” - Traveling Exhibition, Coconino Center for the Arts, Phoenix
Airport Museum, 2015



Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Individual Support Grant, New York, NY, 2019
AZ Commission on the Arts, Professional Development Grant, Phoenix, AZ, 2015
Phoenix Country Day School, Professional Development Grant, Phoenix, AZ, 2006

Art in Embassies Program, US Department of State, Bolivian Embassy, 1997


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