Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Merry Christmas

Painted Nativity
Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
Dears friends and family,

It's a little strange to get a Christmas card in the post with a url link, but if you followed it, let me just say that, to me, it makes far more sense to send you someplace that gets updated regularly throughout the year. So bookmark this page, and check back in a month or two and then send me an email. The address is on my website--linked to the right.

It's been an eventful year. The highlights have had me completing two books--an early reader in comic book style for Innovative Kids, and interior illustrations for 'Why I Hate Other People's Kids' due out by Simon and Schuester. I can't post images from either till they're published, but stay tuned.

I'm starting to show up in galleries. You'll notice a few paintings on the site painted for specific shows. Last October I visited the University of Indianapolis for a week as a guest artist which coincided with a gallery showing. Soon I'll have three prints of my work hung permanently in the U of Indy Admissions office.

About the painting. I remember riding in the back of our station wagon on the road to see family on Christmas when I was about 7. I was thinking, 'with enough time and drive, a person could probably do just about anything'. And by that, my idea of 'anything' was to draw or paint something really well. An image of a flimsy little nativity puzzle I still own came to mind as my ideal 'good'.

Now that I do draw and paint well, I felt as tho a good image was due. It may not be my best or last nativity, but it is my first, which is always a nice place to start.

No matter your beliefs this season, or any, thanks for being a friend. And I hope to see you in the new year.

David W Swain

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pink Elephant

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
I'm in a group show later this month up in Oregon.

I wanted to do something in the same vein as my Four and Twenty piece, and I like the imagery in Opera, even though I've never developed a taste for the music. I look at it and think of the few bars I know of a score 'Hannibal Comes'. I believe that the prince is returning to the woman in blue, but will end up with the lady in the green window. I'm not sure who is commenting from above.

Check out

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
I've had this around for a while. Actually, I painted on top of it, but I never cared too much for the full color. I was watching Gosford Park when I drew it. The women look a little like drag queens to me.

Poor butterfly.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Dinner & Dancing

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
This probably looks really small on your screen. It's 20 inches long in life. There's a monster show at Nucleus this month and this is my entry. I drive around parts of LA and the stacks of houses on hills thrill me. I'll probably play some more with hills of houses

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
It's been a while since I posted anything new. I've been finishing up a book, and starting up a new one. This is a quick sketch I'm not sure I'll ever paint. But I do love the idea of illustrating one of Houdini's underwater tricks. When I first started sketching, I intended to draw the outline of the key to the padlocks in the assistant's apron. I think it's still visible if you click to enlarge.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Ye Olde Sawmille

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
'The Perils of Pauline' is an old silent serial in which Pauline finds herself stuck in varied precarious situations--always to be rescued just in the nick of time. My favorite is when she's tied to a log in a sawmill. The hero is in the bottom corner, striking a pose with his scarf flapping in the wind.

Cole Porter's song 'Friendship' has the line, 'If you're ever in a mill and get sawed in half; I won't laugh'---great inspiration for a drawing. Another one to paint...soon.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
I've been listening to Candide lately, so I've got lederhosen on the brain. I went to draw in the park today and they have this little stone bridge there. I tried to cross it, but a little kid wouldn't let me because he was pretending to be a troll. Once he'd handed me an invisible map, it was okay to go ahead. I left it on the edge of the bridge for him.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.

I wanted to have fun today, but I couldn't think of what I wanted to draw. Then a finger slipped as I typed a message to Mari, and out came the word 'pigture'. Combine that with a random memory of Laverne and Shirley skydiving, and Voila!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Simple Simon

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
This may well be the stupidest image I've ever done. But it makes me laugh, so up it goes. The pie's carrying a bucket of forks, spoons and knives to sell for a penny

Simple Simon met a pieman,_Going to the fair._Said Simple Simon to the pieman,_"Let me taste your ware."
Said the pieman unto Simon,_"Show me first your penny."_Said Simple Simon to the pieman,_"Indeed I have not any."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
A man in the wilderness
Asked this of me,
"How many strawberries
Grow in the sea?"
I answered him
As I thought good,
"As many red herrings
As swim in the wood."

I want to do this as a painting eventually, time permitting.

Monday, July 25, 2005

painting2 copy

painting2 copy
Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
This is this week's painting from the model. I was completely frustrated painting it, so I reworked it once I got home. I can't explain the hat. From the neck down, she was dressed as a harlequin. The woman was actually very pretty, which made her harder to paint.


painting copy
Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
On Saturday nights Art Center has a model session with a long pose open to current students and alum. I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. This was the first week's painting. The one I did the other night was more of a struggle.

There are still people in this world sporting handle bar mustaches. I wish I'd given this guy a sea captain's hat and a telescope.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
This is the first of two images about there being multiple wolves out there in the woods willing to screw you over. Little Blue Riding Hood is followed closely behind by a Little Orange Riding Hood. The wolves are in competition for the prize, but there's more than one stupid little girl to take advantage of. It's a cynical viewpoint, and I'm not sure the second painting is any less gruesome.

Grandma Wolves

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
This is the second of two images retelling the story of red riding hood with multiple wolves and little girls aplenty.

The first image (see above) has to do with there being more than one wolf in the world out to do you in. This one is about what can happen to those wolves once they grow complacent and overly comfortable in their cushy new role as Grandma. You piss off enough little girls, and I think you can expect a revolt.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
I've been working on projects I'm not allowed to put online yet, so I'm going to be updating this thing with older imagery for a little while.

This was done as an update to a book dummy I'd put together. I like the subject matter and I really like the perspective. It's just fun. I'll restage the story at some point, but my yammering on about it here won't help that get done. So I'll shut up for now.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
I don't have much to say about this painting. I've been playing around with throwing architecture and landscape on top of itself. I love the idea, stylistically, behind the silent film--The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari--which uses a form of cubism and flattened perspective. Most of its influences are apparent in some stop motion films today--hello Tim Burton.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Kids in trees

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
What's more summer-y than climbing a tree? As kids, we used to scale the old willow out by the railroad tracks in our back yard. We'd swing on the vinelike branches, but we couldn't get very far out over the hill. The neighbors had a rope tied to a branch in one of their trees and there we could try to swing out and bounce off the train with out feet as it passed. I was a bit of a chicken, but there were kids in the group who accomplished loud thuds. Luckily nobody died.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mike Teevee

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
Just in time for Tim Burton's Willy Wonka, I'll add this stray piece I finally had time to sit down and finish up. I've done a whole series featuring each of the kids...except one. Someday I will get to Veruca Salt and her garbage chute utilizing squirrels, then life will make sense again. It's good to have goals. It'd be better to have a finished piece.

Monday, July 11, 2005


pixels copy
Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
I recently saw War of the Worlds and tho the effects were brilliant--watching actors run from digital monsters just isn't scary.

Offshore Pirate

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
This piece is based on F.Scott Fitzgerald's short story 'The Offshore Pirate'. A musician and his band are hired to hijack a yacht with a millionaire's spoiled niece on board. The handsome thief ignores the lady, piquing her interest. The plot is silly but it's fun, and of course it all ends happily.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pirate Cats

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
This is from a story I almost illustrated fully, but did not. No children's book portfolio could be complete without a motherly chicken a la Richard Scarry--complete with kerchief and apron. The pattern from this chicken's head scarf is the same as my sister's old Raggedy Ann doll.

A great aunt used to have an old abandoned chicken coup behind her house. I'd sneak in there and find bits of bone or feather fluffings mingled with dirty, musty hay. I suppose I was a little scared the place was haunted by flocks of slaughtered poultry but I never stuck around long enough to find out.

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
"Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
Resolved to have a battle,
For Tweedle Dum said Tweedle Dee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew by a monstrous crow
As big as a tar barrel,
Which frightened both the heroes so
They quite forgot the battle."

I am certain that the author fully intended the brothers to be guinea pigs and simply forgot to mention it.

Sunday Outing

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
Truth be told, I had some space to fill on a promotional piece. I've been working to keep my kids a little less creepy. I like a certain amount of scariness in a character, but there are genuinely sweet moments in life too. Don't ask me when they are.

No one looks at this lady and assumes the pie is poisoned. From my standpoint, I'd call that success.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Four and Twenty

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
I've always loved cross sections. I used to look at David Macauley's series on building historic architecture all the time as a kid. Every book would show someone sitting on that era's version of a toilet.

I decided to forego that tradition for this nursery rhyme. With a queen in the parlor, a king in the counting house, the knave could very well have been in the john, but I'll leave that to your imagination.

Influences for this piece also came from 'The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily', Alistair Graham's 'Full Moon Soup' and Eyvind Earle's backgrounds for Sleeping Beauty.

There was an Old Lady

Originally uploaded by Wilson Swain.
It all starts with a fly. No way I want to be the horse that happens on the scene just in time to eat a cow. Being swallowed by a crazy old lady is one thing, gnawing on raw beef afterwards is above and beyond.