December in the studio

I've been working on multiple paintings the last couple months but haven't finished any recently. So, continuing to work on them and starting new ones and other projects, like these 3D watertanks, which I will continue to explore: IMG_0381 Rooftop Watertanks, mixed media on cardboard, works in progress

And getting close to finishing this piece which is based on a photo from New York. Working in a more limited, muted palette.

IMG_0386 Rooftop Escape Plan, oil on panel, work in progress

And another still in the works, also based on New York imagery:


Lofty Towers, oil on panel, work in progress

And there are a few more paintings in progress that I'll post soon...

Work in progress: Fulton Market cityscape

I started this painting over the weekend while finishing another one up. This piece is 4 feet by 4 feet square - mixed media: acrylic, spray paint, oil on masonite panel. I'm working toward keeping the painting loose and energetic and using different tools to scrape the paint to add more textures and blend the colors. Working large and using different media helps to keep things loose and more immediate like a sketch. The image is based on a small painting I made from a photograph I took in the Fulton Market neighborhood in Chicago. You can see the small version in the upper left corner. IMG_9424 Fulton Market, mixed media on panel, work in progress, 2014

IMG_9422 Fulton Market, mixed media on panel, work in progress, 2014

Sunflower Slow Drag: Collaborative Painting, Simons & Swallow

A couple of weeks ago, I worked on a collaborative painting with fellow CAB artist, Scott Simons. We didn't discuss much about what we'd do, we just passed the painting back-and-forth until we decided it was finished. The following images show the process as the painting developed. It was passed between us about six to eight times.

Sunflower Slow Drag - Phase 1
By Scott Simons & Kevin Swallow
Mixed Media on Panel, 2013

Sunflower Slow Drag - Phase 2
By Scott Simons & Kevin Swallow
Mixed Media on Panel, 2013

Sunflower Slow Drag - Phase 3
By Scott Simons & Kevin Swallow
Mixed Media on Panel, 2013

Sunflower Slow Drag - Phase 4
By Scott Simons & Kevin Swallow
Mixed Media on Panel, 2013

Sunflower Slow Drag - Phase 5
By Scott Simons & Kevin Swallow
Mixed Media on Panel, 2013

 Sunflower Slow Drag, mixed media on panel, 24x48, 2013
By Scott Simons & Kevin Swallow


"Sunflower Slow Drag is a collaborative mixed media painting by Scott Simons and Kevin Swallow. This piece combines Simons' abstract textures and lines with Swallow's cityscapes and abstract graffiti. Both artists are influenced by architecture and draw their inspiration from the urban environment. This is their first collaboration.

The painting references a jazz song, Sunflower Slow Drag by Scott Joplin. Like jazz, the painting was improvised. They passed the painting back-and-forth over the course of a week - reacting to each other's lines, marks, and colors. The panel was flipped and turned in various directions as they worked, until the painting unfolded into a finished composition. They will continue creating collaborative paintings and intend on having a two-man show in the future."

Abstract water tanks - mixed media

I finished up these two water tank abstracts today. They are mixed media pieces: acrylic, spray paint, and collage. They are unique pieces because they bridge both my abstracts and cityscapes, but I'm including them in the cityscapes paintings section on my website.

Rockaway Floods, acrylic, spray paint and collage on panel, 24x48, 2013

Lakeview Platform, acrylic, spray paint and collage on panel, 24x48, 2013

Back to the painting

I'm back from Europe as of a couple days ago (some pics forthcoming). I was inspired by museums and galleries in Paris and the Bienalle art exhibition in Venice. Not to mention all of the architecture and street life in both cities.

Back in the studio yesterday and today. I picked up a couple paintings where I left off and started a few new ones. The new ones are more minimalist than the other recent paintings but I think they still all work together so far. We'll see where this experiment leads...

Large-Scale Painting in Progress: Gallery District Lofts

Still a work in progress, this large-scale painting is inspired by NYC's and Chicago's orginal gallery districts: SoHo and River North. The painting is done on canvas and is about 7 feet high by 10 feet wide. So far, I've been using acrylic and spray paint but will be adding more layers using different painting and drawing media. I've been painting it on the floor and outside on the roof of the studio building. Soon, it will go up on the wall.

 Gallery District Lofts, mixed media on canvas (work in progress), 2013

My first job in the city was in River North at a consumer tech magazine. At lunch I'd go visit galleries or just walk around the neighborhood. Some things are still the same, some different. It's definitely more developed than it was 19 years ago. For example, Walmart Express has replaced the Pearl Art Store. I've visited SoHo since the mid-90's - well past it's heyday - and it's changed a lot since then. I'm sure it's a far cry from what it was in the late 60's/early 70's when artists started moving there and taking over buildings and all kinds of art was converging at the same time in the same place.

This makes me think about how neighborhoods evolve with the help of artists and small galleries who eventually get pushed out due to high rents. Commercialism creeps in. It gets a little less edgy because it's creative core moves on. I'm currently reading the book Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida which explores these ideas in depth. But, these places also hold an eternal nostalgia that keep us coming back. I guess there's also that a new place where interesting art or music is percolating just below the surface - waiting to get shown.

New Paintings: Street grids and traffic congestion

These three abstract paintings are inspired by traffic congestion and street grids of the city. I started them off by collaging maps onto the surface, then adding acrylic paint and spray paint. I used a variety of objects as stencils to create some of the shapes. I painted them simultaneously in order to create cohesiveness in colors, shapes, and style. These are part of my abstract series of paintings.

Intersections, acrylic, spray paint, collage on panel, 24x24, 2013
Merging, acrylic, spray paint, collage on panel, 24x24, 2013 
Rush Hour, acrylic, spray paint, collage on panel, 24x24, 2013

New Mixed Media Paintings on Panel

These two new paintings were created using acrylic, spray paint, and collaged maps and sheet music on birch wood panel. Using spray paint was a new experiment for me and I think it worked out pretty well. The application of the paint gives these two paintings a more immediate, sketch-like feel. I like how the layers of collage turned out too. The maps I included are from the Chicago Bike Map and various travels (New York City, Paris, San Francisco). I have a lot more maps from traveling, so I want to create more paintings like these to add to my Cityscapes series. The finished pieces are the first two images below followed by close-ups so you can better see the layers.

 Rooftop Jam, acrylic, spray paint and collage on panel, 36x24, 2013

 Sidetracked, acrylic, spray paint and collage on panel, 18x24, 2013
Here are the detailed close-ups of Rooftop Jam:
Here are the detailed close-ups of Sidetracked:

Art featured in Blick spring catalog

Today, I got the Blick spring catalog in the mail and found my art featured on page 31 in the Studio artists' boards section.

If you can't read the caption, it says:

"I used to paint primarily on canvas. Now, I use Blick Studio Boards for half of my paintings and mixed media pieces. The pre-gessoed panels make it easy to start painting or collaging. I really like how the paint glides across the surface and how the colors pop when I work on the panels. The durability of the panels also holds up well to many layers of scraping and painting, allowing me to create interesting textures. When I'm finished with a piece, I paint the sides and it's ready to hang."