Statement

Paintings

 

I like spending time outdoors and am mostly an outdoor landscape painter. I live with my husband Josh Brumfield, a fine woodworker, on a working horse farm in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. Many of my paintings are done right here or on nearby farms in Harford County and Pennsylvania. The material is usually close at hand. I paint fields and treelines, barns and cloudy skies, but also more immediate things around our place: sheds and tools, benches, laundry lines, tomato cages, even. All garden areas are worthy of attention. It's fun to look at all the things there and let them act like navigation points around the space.

 

I pay attention to the weather, the time of day, the season, and the clock. When choosing a spot or the size of a canvas, I try to calculate how many hours are left before things change too much, or before the sun goes down. The pace picks up when thunderclouds roll in.

 

Around here it is quite humid and I have come to like the softening effect of moist air. Shapes become muffled and colors are mixed or muted. I see and paint like an "impressionist". This is particularly true in the Summer. (In the Winter I do not paint outside at all.) The landscape is colorful and lush. The sky is alive with puffy clouds or trailing mares' tails. The shadows are anything but black. Nothing seems fixed, and nothing is. Things flutter and meander.

 

My paintings are not at all refined. I look at light and shape, do a little drawing on a pad, then a wash drawing on the canvas in a color that becomes a ground beneath the surface colors, and then I just begin, charging in to try to capture something.

 

Other than in Maryland, I spend a couple of weeks towards the end of the Summer painting on the southwest shore of Nova Scotia. Here there is both fog and crystalline air. There are uncompromisingly straight horizons, navy blue water, and elliptical silvery rocks. The trees are scrubby, ragged and tough.

Late summer flowers are still in bloom, while the marsh grass is already turning red. I come there longing for strong blues, and am often forced to settle for lost horizons and nothing but gray.

Prints

 

In the Winter I make experimental prints. Some are collographs and some are mono prints, but most of of them are etchings--either soft ground or intaglio--with chine collé and aquatint for color. I enjoy the rigorous, indirect process, and how interesting it is, once a plate is made, to alter the way it is inked and printed. The possibilities for variations seem infinite. As with everything, the subject matter comes from my surroundings.

​​© Copyright 2023 Mary Swann Paintings.

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