Gladys Swan

From an early age, the arts have offered me a path for exploration and a wonderful opportunity to determine how I see the world.  My efforts have taken various forms both as a writer and a visual artist. In high school and college I wrote poetry and short stories, took  classes in art and drama and acted in plays. For a time I aspired to be an actress.  As I have explored these various pathways I have come to see that the imagination is an extraordinary way of knowing and should be highly valued.  

Though I concentrated on writing novels and short stories during the years I taught literature, I also spent a decade working in ceramics, learning a great deal about form.    I was fortunate enough to receive a fellowship from the Lily Endowment for a project devoted to classes in art, the study of  Inuit art and mythology,  and travel to the Eastern Arctic to visit the creative environment. I took a number of art classes at Purdue and      continued my study of painting and printmaking  at UMC

Travel and study, as well as visits to museums in the States,  Europe and Latin America have been important to me.  A summer of drawing and visits to museums based in Florence with visits to other Italian cities was a rich experience. I have had the unique pleasure  of holding and looking  at Cezanne water colors at the Louvre in Paris.

As the first writer since the inception of the Vermont Studio Center to be awarded a fellowship for a residence in painting, I have spent a good deal of time there both as a painter and a Guest Writer.  A fellowship for a residency at the Center now supports those who care to cross boundaries. My interests in the creative process have led me to develop a workshop, "Heightening Imagination: Writing and Drawing from the Image."  No prior experience required.  I have taught the workshop in Columbia, Taos, and other parts of the country. As my novels and short story collections have been published, I have had the opportunity to do the cover paintings for the books, as well as for those of other writers who have asked me to do theirs.

Much of my work in both art and writing   is set in New Mexico, where I grew up.  Its landscape and  variety of cultures still inspire  me.  I also  enjoy plein aire painting here in Missouri and in the  Maine woods, where I live in the summer.  My painting has moved from the figurative to the abstract over the years.  I try to paint from the images and colors that move through me and suggest what the painting wants to be.   A number of paintings have elements of both the figurative and the abstract.  . I work in both water colors and oils. I owe a great deal to the inspiration of  Fauves and such artists as  Bonnard, Emil Nolde, John Marin, Charles Burchfield, Paul Klee Joan Mitchell  and Keith Crown.  

I now devote my time to both  writing and painting and share a studio with artists Jane Mudd and Chris  Frederick  at the Orr Street Studios.

We have been together since the beginning of the studios.

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