O-A: What is art to you?
Yvette Swan: I find art is an extension of truth through a creative form. The source of this creativity is what I have become aware of. This source of being is the life force of every living creature, everything we see and don’t see. Call it source, consciousness, awareness or some other word. Words are only an indicator to point to this deeper open space called life. What is essential for me is to open to this source of awareness as unhooking from identification with the mind, which creates suffering, then allows my art to be infused with this life force. So yes, I find creativity is an essential extension. Very enjoyable!
O-A: What wouldn’t you do without art?
Yvette Swan: What did you discover, achieve with it? I can’t imagine life without art or some form of creativity. I have a passion for awareness and creativity. I paint, write, and I used to work in the photographic and film industries. So much of my time has been in some form of creativity. For the past 20 years I have also been involved with self-awareness avenues. I am now a qualified Advanced Psychotherapist so I find both areas work hand in hand. Awareness is what fuels the ideas for my artworks and then when I am active with both areas I find it such a sweet balance. They enhance one another. Art has been a journey of self-discovery, much like any awareness avenue I have taken. A great reflection of the inner, true self.
O-A: If a person, artist or not, influenced you, what kind of question would you ask him/her?
Yvette Swan: I would most likely ask something to the effect of, “What have you discovered to be the essential truth of life?” From this question potentially a whole world, universe, as well as a space of nothing could reveal itself. In this question is the possibility of the person to respond from self-realisation. In that moment the beauty of the “other” and “myself” would be revealed as the “one self”. A deepening of awareness could be revealed. This is the energy that all of creation comes from, which includes all of humanity. So yes that would be an interesting question to ask!
O-A: Who or what inspired you artistically; a person, artist, event, experience…
Yvette Swan: There have been many influences that have inspired me artistically. Originally I was deeply inspired by hearing about artists, their work, and their lives in different time periods through my high school art classes. My art teacher, which was my teacher for the entire 6 years I was there, was very inspirational. So that combination was a great way to start as an alive creative energy was very present and I was so inspired that after that I studied art, practical and theory, at an art college for my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. Other influences have been many other artists, visiting galleries, museums, New York, wonderful art museums in New York…MOMA! I love film so this has influenced many early titles of my paintings. I am also deeply inspired by humanity’s awakening. This deep desire for truth and self-recognition is the purpose behind my artwork. It completely inspires me to share messages of truth, love, and freedom of being!
O-A: What is a vivid memory of a remark concerning your art that got stuck with you?
Yvette Swan: It was many years ago at one of my exhibition openings I was introduced to a collector and his wife. It was so lovely to meet with them, very warm and friendly people. The husband then said a comment that surprised me so much that I just reflex answered without even thinking about it before it left my lips! At the time I was going through my “red square period” of painting, ie many of my artworks had a red background or red squares within them. I hadn’t used red much up until then. It was a discovery and then I ran with it for a little while. Very enjoyable! The fellow had the comment that asked why I was making “blood” paintings. That’s not the exact comment but it gave that effect! I just had this big smile on my face and asked if he had been watching lots of horror films. His wife started to laugh and said yes that he had! This was probably one of the first times I realised that one needs not to take people’s comments about one’s art personally. I realised that we all project our own reality onto each other or about what we see. It does not mean it’s true, merely an opinion. An artist could create a painting or a poet write a poem and their interpretation does not mean that’s what will be interpreted by the viewer or reader. It all travels through our own filters and we project back out what we believe. So yes it helped me very much not to take things personally about my art!! It was a great night at the opening and with this couple. A good experience.
O-A: How has your art changed over time? Why?
Yvette Swan: My work started as pure abstract painting. I enjoyed a more muted blue palette on canvas along with mixed media of collage, painting, and graphite with the works on paper. The paint work was at times very textural with impasto added to the paint. I then opened to much more colourful abstract works on canvas and this then brought on the use of squares and rectangles within the works. They are quite linear in style and colourful. Some of the works were very bright! A lot of red, orange, blue, and the use of bright coloured spray paint. After this series I then develop a blended style of abstract landscape. I enjoyed this very much. I created works with land and sky, sometimes with small squares worked within the land. Many of these works included the use of oil paint, graphite, oil stick colours, chalk pastels. I do love mixing other elements into the paint! Now I create works that are both pure abstract and abstract landscape/ seascape. I love both styles. I’m using synthetic polymer paint on canvas and most recently on wooden panels. I started with this kind of paint 20 years ago and have come back full circle. Mainly because the oil mediums I used had become too toxic for my body and were giving me headaches. So this is a much healthier option!
O-A: What names do you usually give your artworks?
Yvette Swan: In previous years and exhibitions I enjoyed using film, book, and music titles or references to artists and their world, for example, Andy Warhol and The Factory he worked out of. I created an exhibition as a result of being inspired by New York and years gone past of other people’s creativity. New York in the 1970’s boomed in its creativity and launched many a career of now wellknown artists and musicians. I still enjoy when it feels apt to use a film reference in titling. I find it very enjoyable! Other titles I use make reference to nature or awareness. Even with the natural titling they are still referencing awareness, self-recognition, and freedom. All is embedded within a title even if it is not obvious to the viewer.
O-A: What do you usually talk about with your collectors?
Yvette Swan: Collectors love hearing about the ideas of the work, what my inspiration was for the piece. Giving some back-story and the purpose of the work is most interesting. In a way it’s like reading a good novel. Just knowing that bit more about the work and my purpose for painting people find very interesting and it somehow deepens the experience for them. It’s wonderful to be able to share and bring joy to another who loves the work.