Sue Ellen Cowan - Artist Interview

February 2021 


"If art is in your soul, do not push it aside for any reason."

~ Sue Ellen Cowan 


Q. Please tell us about bit about yourself. Anything you’d like to share, perhaps where you live, where you were born, your family.

I currently live on a beautiful acreage outside Grande Prairie, AB between Wembley and Beaverlodge. After spending over 30 years on the west coast in Terrace, BC this was a big change in scenery. We raised 4 children and currently have 9 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Q. Can you tell us when you first realized that you enjoyed creating art and wished to become an artist. Is there a particular person who supported your decision to pursue your goals? If so, in what way did you feel supported? If so, how did you feel?

I have always created art. However, being a practical person I never considered becoming an artist until I retired from raising a family followed by a career in accounting. 

Q. What is your motivation for creating art?

I have a  desire to create art that shows the beauty in ordinary things around us, to evoke memories and feelings from others. My dedication to art pushes aside the daily symptoms of illness and supersede the memories of a horrific childhood.

Q. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?

While I love several mediums, I would have to say acrylics are my favorite. Acrylics dry faster so you can apply subsequent layers sooner and get right to the final detail layer while the passion is fresh which results in a much better artwork. Oils are wonderful and satisfying to work with and they blend better than acrylics but the slow drying time usually doesn’t work as well for me.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?

The Fisherman - The grizzly bear fishing along the banks of the Skeena River is my favorite. It evokes memories of of fishing with my eldest son Robert and the joy that fishing brings him.

Waiting For His Friend - This one is very special to me. It is a tribute to my little dog Oscar who passed away a few months ago after being my constant companion for almost 17 years. While the dog is the painting is not Oscar, he represents the way Oscar was always waiting for me with such loyalty and devotion.

Val Marie Grain Elevator - These majestic old wooden grain elevators always stood out along the horizon signifying a town as we drove across the prairies throughout my childhood and when we travelled from BC to visit family in MB. I hate to see them slowly disappearing so I have started a series of paintings to bring attention to them before they are gone. 

'The Fisherman' by Sue Cowan


    'Waiting for his Friend' by Sue Cowan

'Val Marie Grain Elevator' by Sue Cowan


Q. When you create art do you listen to calming music, are you thinking of anything in particular or have any emotions at all? 

I often listen to country music or audible books and podcasts while creating. Usually though, they fade away as I get stuck into the painting. I get so absorbed into the process that everything else disappears.

Q. In our busy world, time can be an issue. Do you have any tips or tricks to find time for your art? 

The studio must be somewhat clean and organized, brushes and tools cleaned and ready for the next session. Having scheduled time for the studio works best whether you have 1 hour or 8.

Q. Is creating art your main profession? 

Yes creating art is now my full-time profession since I retired from a career in accounting followed by several years as an assistant manager in retail.

Q. Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?

Being a very shy individual, I have really only just started putting my work out to the public. Entering the Beauty of the Peace competition was my first time taking my artwork to a gallery so it is the most impactful. I had a small showing at a cafe/gallery in Terrace many years ago just before we moved to this area. 

Q. Do you have any major goals for your art career? 

My major goals are just to keep improving and producing works that I am proud of. I am pushing myself to enter exhibitions both locally and nationally through the PRFCA and the FCA as well as local shows. Once the current pandemic is over, I will attend local events.

Q. What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be?

I have always been a bit of a perfectionist, consistent improvement is my inspiration. I have always tried to be the best at any job I have taken on. I would like to leave a least one piece behind that will motivate and inspire a future generation to create art.

Q. Is there  anything else you’d like to share about your art journey or inspiration so far to inspire others? 

If art is in your soul, do not push it aside for any reason. Spend the time each day putting your creativity to work. Continue learning and creating until you get an opportunity to show your work. Do not be shy, get out with other artists because it really motivates and inspires to share knowledge and techniques. Life throws you curve balls - improvise, adapt and overcome!

Sue Ellen Cowan can be reached via email- 

Thank you so much for telling us more about yourself, Sue!