I thought it would be intriguing to ask painters this simple yet complex question. This query comes with no ground rules—it’s up to each individual artist to find their own approach and direction.
This project will be an ongoing exploration … let’s see where it takes us.
What is Painting?
Featuring Kevin Swallow
I started painting in 1995 after I was laid off from a job as an advertising coordinator at a magazine. Along with photography, it started as a way to explore my city and new life changes. There was definitely something that I had to get out – it became a creative release and has helped me grow as a person. Now it’s something I have to do.
When I’m painting, I have the freedom to create what I want, when I want. Making shapes and textures, creating compositions – it gives me a different way to communicate. It’s fun and playful. It requires a lot of focus and I don’t even notice that the hours are passing by. Painting is also therapeutic, anxiety-reducing, and helps manage stress. I enjoy the time thinking, spending time in my studio and creative space.
• mixing new colors
• making choices
• being self-critical
Painting is very satisfying and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I make a breakthrough or finish a new piece. It’s something I can control. I can use painting to create another world for myself, and for others. It’s skewing reality. Storytelling. It’s problem-solving. I like to experiment with ideas and try out different techniques.
• time consuming
Sometimes painting is just kicking back and having some beers, listening to music and letting the paint flow. It can be very spontaneous. Sometimes, it’s collaborative or more social when working with others or getting feedback. Other times, it can be a lonely experience. Painting is very personal but it’s also a part of our collective creative history as humans.
• fluid and loose
• screwing up
Painting is a big investment in time and money. It’s rewarding and fulfilling. It requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. Painting is drawing. It’s learning all the different ways paint can be applied to surfaces. Sometimes painting is just sitting in the studio and not painting – watching, looking at my art for hours. Working things out in my head.
• a commitment
Painting is an ongoing process – a journey that never ends…
Kevin Swallow, In a Silent Way, oil on canvas, 24″ x 48″, 2014
Kevin Swallow lives and works in Chicago. Originally from Crestwood, Illinois, he has been creating art since 1995. He works in various media: painting, photography, mixed media and digital. His choice of mediums — whether paint, a camera, or a computer — is strongly influenced by the unlimited sights, sounds, and colors of the city. He travels frequently and draws inspiration from the places he visits in the U.S., Europe and Canada.
Kevin graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications and has studied painting, drawing and screen printing at Lill Street Art Center. Since 2006, Kevin’s studio has been located in the Cornelia Arts Building, where he also volunteers on the building planning committee. He has recently exhibited at The Story of the Creative show in New York City, Degenerate Art Gallery, and The Fine Arts Building. Kevin will have a solo show at Firecat Projects in the summer of 2015.
Kevin’s work is in various private collections in Illinois; New York; Washington, D.C.; Minnesota; Seattle, WA; Denver, Colorado; Portsmouth, VA; Phoenix, AZ; Barcelona, Spain; and Berlin, Germany. His cityscape images are also in various hotels: Chicago Hilton and Suites, Mile North Hotel, Hyatt Hyde Park, and Sheraton Hotel and Suites. His studio has been featured in Hyperallergic – A View from the Easel and he was interviewed by Neoteric Art, an online art magazine about painting and drawing. Kevin has also volunteered for Friends of the Arts (FOTA), an organization for emerging artists, since 2002.
The What Is Painting? Project – More Featured Artists