ARTIST'S PORTRAIT * CARRIE COWAN


Portland, Oregon artist Carrie Cowan creates whimsical pieces that make me smile! Her Etsy shop, Swellkid, is a great resource for some cheery, vintage-inspired pieces to brighten up your space.

Carrie has a Bachelor's Degree in Visual Art from University of Northern Colorad0, and a Master's in Teaching from Willamette University in Oregon. Carrie says that, as a kid, she was always more interested in music and theater than in visual art. She loved to sing and perform, but she has always enjoyed drawing. When she was 13, all she drew were fashion designs. The year prior, all she drew were imaginary floorplans of huge houses. She didn't start taking it seriously until she went to college. Her family is very artistic, both her parents are creative and her father is an architect. Her brother is also an artist in Portland. She says,"His work is really beautiful, I consider him the artist and myself the "hobbyist". You can view his work at http://www.pdxcontemporaryart.com/macca." I don't think Carrie gives herself enough credit!

Carrie has been married for 6 years and is a devoted mom to her 2 year old son. She is inspired by him and his interests and began painting for children's spaces because of him. She told me that, once you have kids, you find yourself exposed to a whole new set of environments (I can relate because I was a nanny for several years....sometimes I still miss watching SpongeBob Squarepants!) Carrie felt that there was a lack of interesting and affordable art for nurseries. She didn't want to buy the $75 mass-produced reproductions at Pottery Barn Kids and neither did her friends, so she began creating her own! She's quick to add that her creative juices only flow during afternoon naps, and only then if the dishes and laundry are done!

For Carrie, finding the time to work on art is a huge challenge. She teaches elementary school half of the week and the other half she stays home with her son. He is still young enough that when he is awake, she needs to be focused on him.
She loves living in Portland. Carrie enthusiastically proclaims, "We are really lucky here - we have all the good things about a big city: great food and culture, without all the bad things like terrible traffic and pollution. Portland is super-saturated with creative people. It's a great place to live." She and her husband even have 3 laying hens that they are able to keep in a chicken coop in their backyard!

Some of the things she considers essential to her success and well-being as a person and artist are: an understanding husband who lets her spend money on vintage magazines and books to cut up, a great local art supply store where the employees know what they are talking about, an hour a day on Etsy, walking to the library with her son, and gummy bears or Junior Mints. She would also love the opportunity to spend time each year in Sicily, where her father is from. She loves good food and cooking - hmmmm.....could that have something to do with her Sicilian blood?! She loves all types of pasta (another thing we have in common!) Carrie's favorite music? She goes back and forth from The Wiggles and Dan Zanes. Favorite clothes when she's "doing" her art? "Normal mom-clothes!"
I admire Carrie's adeptness at balancing motherhood, art and teaching with such an upbeat outlook. It's no small feat to be good at all three. To nurture your creativity and gift, without sacrificing your devotion to the people that mean the most to you, is truly inspiring! If you are looking for some very reasonably priced art that would be great for a gift, a child's room, or just about any space, take a look at Carrie's Etsy site - you'll be glad you did!