Artist Interview: Judith Kowler

Posted by Jenni Kirby - July 28 2020


Bold strokes and bright colors define Judith Kowler’s joyful paintings that are born from a process the artist says can, at times, be meditative. Since moving to Richmond in 1978, she has embraced the local art scene. “Richmond has a vibrant art community, and I love how it has grown since I moved here.”  
Kowler, who knew she wanted to be an artist and art teacher since her youth, strives to “play” in her creative process, interpreting her subjects rather than trying to present them in a realistic way. “I get lost in the fun of letting my brush dance around the surface and delight in the sometimes unexpected juxtapositions of colors, shapes, lines, that emerge as I work." The creative process is an ongoing learning experience and experimentation for Kowler. Sometimes she will even wipe off paint from the canvas to see what emerges and work from the less defined images that remain.
“I’m continually looking at art, reading about art and artists, going to museums and galleries, and I love to travel, very recently, to Iceland - all of which inform my own work in some way." This sense of playfulness and love of learning made her an enthusiastic art teacher at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, where she started the art department in 1992 and taught for 15 years. “What a joy and privilege it was to work with such extraordinary students. In so many ways, my students taught me so much as they pursued their own creative journeys.”
A mother of three and grandmother of four, Kowler travels frequently to spend time with them. She and her late husband were raised in New York and moved several times before settling in Richmond in 1978. “Richmond and the area around us are filled with wonderful, accessible, cultural offerings….theater, music, art galleries, and great restaurants. The Modlin Center in Richmond, the Garth Newel Music Center in Warm Springs, so many other great cultural venues, restaurants and opportunities for continuing education -- a warm and welcoming community and wonderful friends. I love it here!”