Sanna Stabell

self taught painter from arizona

A self-taught artist, Sanna Stabell draws her creative strength from a deep emotional base, channeling internal dialogue into expressive artwork that carries lightheartedness above a contemplative undercurrent.


Sanna, who is of Norwegian and Sámi descent, was born and raised in the United States, growing up in Minnesota and moving to Arizona as a teenager. In both locations, spending time in nature and with animals was an essential key to her happiness and has influenced her work, which often takes on a childlike aspect.  The rugged starkness of the Arizona desert has had a major impact on her creativity and aligns closely with the general theme of the artwork, which is finding beauty, life and emotion where it is sometimes least expected.


Sanna’s primary goal is to have an initial viewer focus on the characters and/or elements within the painting, followed by a deeper interpretation of the underlying emotion and story.  Color in both bold and diffuse patterns is used to help develop and communicate the dreamlike quality of each creation. Often, there is an aspect of apprehensiveness within the works that floats to the surface and can be seen in the faces of the figures within.  However, Sanna’ s sense of humor forms a thread through all her work and though there are pensive undertones throughout, there is also an overall slant towards playfulness and absurdity that is meant to create a balance within the pieces.


Sanna invites those who view her work to step inside the scene and look outward through the eyes of the characters. They may at first appear peculiar or awkward to the viewer, but from their vantage point so may the outside world. It is the commonality of emotions that we all share that can break through prejudices and create a shared experience.


Sanna is the founder and curator of the Collective of Women Artists (COWA).