A day in the life- mid August



pond at Sowada's house

pond at Sowada’s house


The mid-August brisk air (55 – 65 degrees) is perfect for removing the algae from around the edge of our small pond. This task is only done while wearing knee pads (making crawling easy) and in the early morning cool air before the yellow jacket wake up bell.

Before this task I have drunk a cup of coffee and selectively read the newspaper. After this task, I am, with gusto, doing any do-ahead-meal-prep. (This is in my DNA, the need to get things done ahead of time.)

It will be hot later in the day, so I will cook some quinoa, and let it cool. I have also picked mint, parsley, and tomatoes from the garden. These things go in the Tabouli Salad, to be assembled later.

What is next in my schedule?

Summer time has less of a get-into-the-studio-and-begin-working protocol and more of a which-garden-do-I-work-in-today protoccol.

The work of the garden is really the same as the work of the art studio. It is a combination of arrangement and editing. While weeding I am making choices about which plant of 3 will occupy a spot and look nice with other plants there. (Can I transplant the 2 removed plants to other places? It is a risky time to transplant, but this explains why it sometimes happens anyway.) Whether in the studio or garden, I am enjoying and responding to contrasts in color, texture, shape, and size. Is there a theme, concept, idea that will pull it all together? Do I need to find the perfect accent?

My artist hat is always on, even when I am arranging stones, nursery plants, chairs, or the aesthetic placement of the wound up hose! So I may need to stare into space, or move around to other vantage points and do some squinting.


Wake up


Arrange  Edit  Respond

Stare into Space

Tabouli Salad: Bring 2 C. water to a boil, add 1 C. quinoa and simmer low for 20 minutes. (Add diced garlic to the water while it cooks.) Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate. Wash and drain a 15 oz. can of black beans. Transfer to clean towel for a bit, to remove water. Combine cooled quinoa, black beans, 1/4 c. olive oil and juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 c. each chopped parsley and mint, 1 c. chopped tomatoes. Optional items are feta cheese,  sliced black olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Harvest, 21 X 29, $375

Harvest, 21 X 29, $375



August, 12 X 16, $175

August, 12 X 16, $175

Just add purple and chartreuse

I’m starting a new series of work that will use (spiritual) purple and (rebirth) chartreuse as major players. At least that’s my current thinking. I will use a lot of a formerly used Wyoming color palette with these strong colors added. Here are some examples of older work using many of the same colors.  Taken together they… Read more »

Make Over

Get out the rotary cutter. Sometimes the best thing to do with a piece that isn’t so good, is to visualize cutting it up, and then have fun doing it!  Since you didn’t like it anyway, nothing is lost. Making artwork is always a risk, so I say, go for it. I cut ‘Abstract Figure’… Read more »

Everyone is happy

When a commission turns out well, everyone is happy. The woman who asked me to make a piece based on a photo of herself and her children, was already familiar with my artwork. She knew about my medium, style, subject matter, and my love of light and shadow. She could safely feel that I was… Read more »

Something to Say About the Digital Age

New inventions have always been both delightful and frightening. An autonomous car is no different than a telephone, except for the century in which it is imbedded into human lives.  My Voice (the artistic voice of Joan Sowada) is exemplified by using images of people and animals, usually in relationship with each other and the out… Read more »

New Order and Taking Stock

After reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, I have given myself permission to devote several months to the task of going through everything in my house that is mine. It is simple enough to ask the clarifying question of “Does this thing bring me joy?”, but after that it is… Read more »

Inspiration from Photos

I am often inspired to create art quilts based on my own candid photos. Here are some examples of pieces that started out this way. I am drawn to photos that have good composition and strong contrast of light and dark. I sometimes combine multiple images of a subject to add impact. (Magic Wall also has… Read more »

Is it Good Artwork?

I was recently asked to judge an art show. The art was created by adults, in all media (including photography), from all over the state of Wyoming. The previous time I did this task was children’s art and County Fair. Thankfully in both instances there was a second person judging, making the decisions easier. It… Read more »

If the Power Goes Out

After a week of enjoying 2 hours a day of Spring garden cleanup, Winter has returned for a bit. The power is not likely to fail, but what if it did? Some artists work without power tools of any kind – colored pencil, paint, markers, etc. to render an image, as long as there is day light…. Read more »