Artist Katrina Swanson presents a collection of nostalgic oil paintings that bring memories to life. Visit her website to see more of her artwork.
I’ve been interested in making things from an early age. I would bounce around between hobbies, searching for something that satisfied my need to create. I really enjoyed the process, but the final product was usually disappointing. When I was introduced to painting, I finally found the process that satisfied that craving.
Early in my journey I was painting photorealistic flowers with watercolors. I used my camera to capture images of flowers and nature with dramatic color and light. While I enjoyed the medium, it became frustrating.
A mentor suggested changing my medium to oils and I eventually did so. It was difficult, helped me improve as a painter and gave me the freedom to change what I was painting.
Around the time I was learning oils, my son Shane was born. His sister Liberty was born two years later. I continued to paint during this time and while I wasn’t as productive as before, I was able to learn and grow as an artist.
Slowing down and being able to think about what direction you want to go as an artist is very important. As a result of this I changed my subject matter to more urban street scenes.
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It was a challenge to figure out perspective, but the more I painted the more successfully the paintings turned out. I would wander around Omaha’s Old Market and surrounding areas taking pictures of interesting corners and shopfronts, then doing realistic paintings of them. I did several series, including night paintings.
In November of 2016 I had a significant stroke. I was forty-six years old at the time and recovered relatively quickly, but the stroke affected the right side of my body. I had to relearn how to paint. It was devastating to go to my studio and not be able to work on my painting. By January 2017 I was recovered enough to paint for short periods, but I tired easily.
When I had the stroke, the doctors had no explanation for the cause. In late January 2017, I went in for my annual mammogram and it was found that I had stage 2 breast cancer. The cancerous tumor was the likely cause for my stroke. I spent the year going through several surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Although I tried to paint through the process, the chemotherapy affected my eyes and I was exhausted most of the time.
Although it was rough, those years of illness allowed me to think about the direction I wanted to go with my art. I’m currently working on capturing retro and vintage objects. I want to paint fun things that bring back great memories of my childhood.
I love the process of painting detail, texture, light and color. I bounce around from painting to painting. It satisfies my need to make things!
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