Studio Snapshot: Barbara Swanson

Written by Christopher Howley Category: Arts Issue: February 2019
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Barbara Swanson was a late bloomer, artistically speaking. After moving 26 times in 13 years as a result of her late husband’s cartography work, she found it difficult to really settle into a place and find her passion. “It was in Colorado, in my 60s, when I discovered I could be an artist,” Swanson says. Now she can’t stop the inspiration. “As an artist, your mind never stops – it’s always going.” In her Gilbert studio, Swanson creates multimedia works using pen and ink, watercolors, oils, acrylics and collage.

photo by Angelina Aragon

Swanson began to layer tissue paper onto her work after she saw another artist do so. “The colors are just amazing... once you get the right layers.”

She uses pens, liquid acrylics and ink to create unique pieces. “I can actually do a whole painting without even using a brush,” Swanson says.

“[The sketchbook] gives you an idea of the outline of the drawing that you want,” says Swanson, who starts most paintings with a pen. “You learn all the intricacies.”

“I basically create as I go along,” Swanson says. “I may add a stencil to create another dimension and layer.”