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Holladay Journal

Watercolorist Ilene Stowe captures the soft essence of animals

May 12, 2021 11:34AM ● By Sona Schmidt Harris

Ilene Stowe’s watercolors incorporate her career in travel and a soft, pastoral approach. (Photo by Jaden Kudai)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Ilene Stowe is an enthusiastic artist and, in some ways, new to the lifestyle of a creator. Having spent 40 years in corporate America and raising nine children, she has been busy, to say the least. Now is her time as an artist, and all that waiting to create is finally paying off.

“I've just been doing it for three years now,” Stowe said of her watercolor paintings, which have the free-flowing, professional appearance of an artist who has worked much longer.

“I’m in heaven,” Stowe, the recently named artist of the month, said of her blooming vocation. Her pieces, particularly those of animals, seem quickly and effortlessly done.

“I have to discipline myself to do an initial painting and then leave it. So, oftentimes, I'll work on four or five different pieces,” Stowe said. “The biggest fault in watercolors is overworking. So, I just leave it because really spontaneous things and wonderful things happen.”


The majesty of an elephant, the tender reach of a giraffe, zebras by a body of water, horses in a pastoral setting and even bears appear gentle under the able hands of Stowe. “I love every animal. I’m almost a vegetarian,” she said.

Stowe is unusually adept at capturing the essence of people’s pets, and she becomes emotional when discussing the subject.

“People have asked me to do pictures of pets that have passed, so I do those and it's so rewarding for me . . . because you know their pets are their baby,” she said. “I did a really lot of them at Christmas.”

Born in Modesto, California, and raised primarily in Millcreek, Stowe has lived all over Utah and has been in Holladay since 1983. She studied art at Utah STate University, Southern Utah University and Salt Lake Community College.

Zebras stop for a drink in one of Ilene Stowe’s original watercolors. (Photo by Jaden Kudai)

“I was raised in a family of all engineers,” Stowe said. So, it was mysterious to her family when she wanted to create art. “I only started to really paint after I finished working 40 years in corporate America, and I like how fresh and clean and spontaneous watercolors are, so I started with those.” 

Stowe wanted to create art since she can remember. She is also a master gardener, which influences her art.Though she came from a family of engineers, two of Stowe’s daughters are artistic as well. She creates no prints and sells only originals. It’s as if she is making up for lost time. An enthusiastic student, Stowe studies with artist Harold Peterson. 

“He doesn't try to put a square peg in a round hole,” she said. “He's really good.” 

To learn more about Ilene Stowe, visit To nominate a Holladay resident for Artist of the Month, visit: