CWU Finance Director Learns to Tap the Artist Within

CWU Finance Director Learns to Tap the Artist Within

Patrick Stanton is a numbers guy by trade, but he’s an artist by avocation. That passion for creating is what led him to branch out from his office duties over the years.

Now, CWU’s executive director of financial services is a well-respected local artist who spends just as much time in the studio as he does at work.

Stanton came to CWU as a student in 1989 to pursue degrees in economics, accounting, and finance. After graduating in 1993 and working in finance for about 10 years, he advanced to the role of director of enterprise financial services and business planning in 2002.

But, over time, he learned that what really stirred his soul was being creative. Everything from making jewelry to woodworking—even building oversized LEGO structures—helped Stanton realize that his true calling was working with his hands.

“The creative process is best as an escape—letting go of wanting to do something and just doing it,” he said. “The hardest part is looking at a blank piece of paper or other raw materials and not knowing how to start. The best results come about when you just go for it and let it happen, without overthinking.”

As a self-described extrovert who just happened to have an aptitude for accounting, Stanton was fulfilled in his day job, but he needed a creative outlet and was seeking more human interaction. He was still early in his career at CWU when he decided to take advantage of the employee tuition benefit and enroll in a class.

Stanton had always been curious about how jewelry was made, so he figured a metal-smithing course might give him an interesting creative outlet. He quickly amassed 65 credits before his professor eventually went on sabbatical. That’s when he transitioned to a wood-design course and continued immersing himself in the creative process.

Through his time in these courses, Stanton developed a passion and talent for jewelry making that would eventually expand into other art forms. His vibrant and playful personality emanates from the fully functional LEGO cuckoo clock that resides in his studio at Gallery One in downtown Ellensburg.

“Many of these are transferable skills,” he said. “The planning process, conceptualization, and execution are similar in many art forms—or gardening or cooking for that matter. People need an outlet, and it doesn’t matter what it is.”

Stanton’s eye for design and attention to detail can be seen in every ring and necklace he crafts. His art is special in that every aspect of each piece he creates is intentional and has a purpose and/or meaning.

Each piece has a story, and he can tell you where the stones came from, where he obtained the metal, how he worked with it and why, and the thought process behind his design.

Stanton’s art can be found on display at Gallery One, or you might catch a glimpse of one of his rings, or a set of earrings on someone around town. However, you won’t find any of his works for sale.

“I make most of my jewelry in sizes that fit me or my wife,” Stanton said, adding that he enjoys donating pieces for charity auctions. “I don’t sell anything. I already have a job, and I want to keep this a hobby.”

Stanton spends about 15 hours per week in his Gallery One studio, having discovered that creating art is “like therapy” for him.

“It’s like using a completely different part of your mind,” he said. “Going to the studio is a creative outlet for me.”

Outside of the university and Gallery One, Stanton and his wife, Jodi Hoctor, are both actively involved in the community. Stanton served the local Red Cross chapter for 10 years as treasurer and president, before taking over as the secretary for the Ellensburg Masonic Lodge in 2008—a role he still serves in today.

No matter what he does in his spare time, Stanton always comes back to his art, and how his training at CWU led to an entirely new outlook on life. In fact, he got so much out of pursuing his artistic interests that he believes everyone should take an art class during their time on campus.

“If I could pass along anything, it would be to take classes!” he said. “You can do anything for 10 weeks, and you will get to learn a new skill and interact with students. It is truly rewarding.”

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