Enjoy complimentary standard shipping on all orders.
Larry Dale Sowell is an elementary school art teacher turned coast to coast truck driver.
Before his interest in studio art, Larry began acting in high school productions in Texarkana, Texas. His high school drama teacher, Mr. John Thomas, recognized Larry's talent and encouraged his creativity.
"Mr. Thomas was one of many teachers who was instrumental in meeting my need for belonging as a young adolescent. Not only did he encourage me to audition for theater roles, but he permitted me to design the program covers for all theater events. From providing a job as an usher at the local performing arts venue, The Perot Theater, to his assistance with my role as Drama Club president, Mr. Thomas helped propel my creative development, not only as an actor, but as a young man. I will always be grateful to him."
After graduating high school, Larry toured with the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus as a technical assistant, masquerading as a circus clown during its opening parade. Afterwards, he joined the United States Air Force where he toured with Tops in Blue, USAF's answer to Up With People!, as a set designer.
"Tops in Blue was my second professional gig. There I was, sitting in a room with professional visual artists contributing what little artistic skills I had at the time. I actually designed the stage for Bob Hope's Thanks for the Memories 50th Anniversary Celebration at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. I was 19 years old. I had no idea what I was doing."
Larry was awarded Airman of the Year at Sheppard Air Force Base's 3750 Mission Support Squadron in 1990 for his contributions to the arts and to the local community. Larry was also the official national anthem singer for all Sheppard AFB functions.
"I couldn't go anywhere without hearing 'loved your performance at the Christmas Show or the Independence Day celebration, or whatever social gathering.' I was too young to process all of the praise. I wouldn't say that it went to my head, but later in life, I had problems with being just a regular guy. It wasn't Hollywood, of course, but my brain didn't know the difference."
While in the military, Larry also led the hymns at Sunday morning chapel services on base. That is where he met Donna Brinlee, the chapel's pianist.
"Donna and I were so much alike. We were both big kids who loved to laugh."
Recognizing Larry's creative energy, she arranged an audition with vocal professor, Dr. Don Maxwell of Midwestern State University. Donna believed that Larry would be a fine addition to MSU's vocal performance program.
"I was a terrible student at MSU. I was emotionally immature. I had no sense of self. I basically didn't know who I was. I didn't know there was someone to know. I would skip classes. I would disappear for days, even weeks. I was lost, psychologically disconnected from reality and it manifested in different ways. I was deeply troubled. I felt I let everyone down."
After performing leading roles at Wichita Falls' local theater, The Backdoor Theater (Oliver! and Lend Me a Tenor), Larry dropped out of MSU, left Wichita Falls, TX and relocated to Saint Louis, Missouri, where he eventually enrolled in art school.
At the University of Missouri, Larry became a drawing and painting major. Larry felt right at home with other visual artists.
"Visual art students were very different from performing art majors. There was no stage, very little ego, and very little praise. It was Just a drawing table, light music in the background, art supplies, and small critique gatherings. There was very little pressure. It was exactly what I needed."
Still bitten by "the bug," Larry managed to find a small local theater company (Ragged Blade Theater) in St. Louis and on a whim, auditioned for a play while a student at the university.
He landed the lead role in a play called RulaLenska.com, written by Jerry Rabushka. Larry played opposite Jerry when the play entered the Columbus Theater Festival.
After receiving great reviews, Jerry and Larry revived their roles and performed the play in a six night run at the LaNuit Comedy Theater in New Orleans, LA.
Before graduating with a BFA in drawing, Larry received Best of Show honors at the UMSL Juried Student Art Exhibition. After UMSL, Larry immediately enrolled at the University of Missouri in Kansas City in 2003, majoring in art education. He received an MA in Curriculum and Instruction in 2005.
It was at this time Larry felt he needed to face his depression. Larry was no longer able to suppress the shadows. He found a therapist in Toronto, ON, attending sessions twice a week.
While in Toronto, Larry auditioned with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional choral group dedicated to Afrocentric classical music, under the direction of Brainerd Blyden-Taylor.
He toured with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale for two years, singing at such venues as The Roy Thomson Hall, The Toronto Center for the Arts, Howard University, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, St. Bartholomew Church in Manhattan and the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Larry was fired from Nathaniel Dett after several no shows, his ongoing bout with depression being its source.
Larry sought other therapists, each acknowledging the source of Larry's troubles (childhood trauma), but offered very little effective advice on how he could control his propensity of running away or hiding, his most used coping mechanism.
"I was prescribed anti-depressants and after taking them, found that I had no emotional impulses, fuel used to promote good creative energy. In other words, I was a better artist when I experienced my emotions fully."
Larry stopped taking medication and decided to seek spiritual guidance, reading endless books on the topic of spirituality and emotional wholeness.
"So, from bell hooks to Ram Dass, there was no end to the self-help books I read in search for a healthy (and effective) coping mechanism needed to endure past trauma."
Then, Larry discovered eastern religion practices, such as meditation and yoga.
"It was through books like A New Earth (Eckhart Tolle), where I was first introduced to alternative ways of dealing with everyday life."
Through Eckhart's teachings, Larry learned that it was his overthinking that largely contributed to his debilitating mental condition.
"Replaying the past over and over in my head caused my body to react as if the traumatic moments of the past were happening over and over again, hence the running and the hiding. Being in the moment (no time) introduced a new way of observing the past. As I continued to meditate, the past became more distant, as if it were no longer a part of my identity. I began to heal."
Everyday Larry takes a moment to be still.
"I believe silence is the language of God. We are so overwhelmed these days with fleeting situations and drama. It's as if the world requires our attention twenty-four hours a day, distracting us from the Life that is within all of us. I think that is why God brought trucking into my life. Distancing myself socially has given me more of a positive outlook on things. The trees and the open skies are healing, calming. The universe wanted this for me. I feel very loved."
It was during this time that Larry felt led to "catalogue' his creative endeavors.
The idea of Snuffbooks surfaced when I began to incorporate silent meditation into my everyday life,
Snuffbooks is not an expression of ideals or a business. It is merely a collection of creative endeavors from the inner most part of a guy sitting in a corner makin' things.
That's about it.