2020 Monuments & Canyons Artist: Paula Swain


Paula Swain grew up with plein air painting as a part of her life. Both of her parents were art teachers, and many of Paula’s childhood weekends were spent plein air painting with her father. She eventually attended college, graduating as a registered nurse from the San Juan college of Nursing in New Mexico. She continued the family’s annual plein air painting trips to the Oregon coast and the desert southwest. She returned to painting workshops in 2004, experimenting with mediums and style. Paula calls her style of painting ‘Semi Representational Expressionism’, and ‘Sometimes Fauvism.’ She still loves the creamy greys of an overcast day and local color.

She is inspired by nature, architecture, reading, hiking and the unexpected ”ashcan” moments. Paula is continually searching for new places, perspectives and vistas to paint from. The plein air experience includes not only bugs, wind and sunscreen in the eyes, but amazing moments of changing light, the smell of warm pine trees, and meeting people from all over the world. She hopes to share with the viewer the joy and delight of these moments. Paula’s favorite quote is by Charles Hawthorne. “If you are not going to get a thrill, how can you give someone else one? You must first feel the beauty of the thing before you start.”