The Ocean Art of Kerrie Swan
There are some women that you meet in life along the journey that instantly warm your heart and inspire you to smile more and live each day with gratitude. Kerrie Swan is one of these women. Kerrie also happens to be a woman of the sea and an artist. I was blessed to catch up with Kerrie to chat with her about her life by the sea and the inspiration she draws from the ocean for her artwork.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey to where you are now. I have always lived on the coast. My childhood was spent swimming, fishing, waterskiing and collecting shells. My husband also grew up on the water. Our 3 children grew up in rock pools, kayaks, on surfboards and in boats. They swam, surfed, dived, snorkelled and fished. We travelled around Australia with the kids when they were little exploring our amazing coastline. 15 years ago we moved to the mid north coast. We wanted to give the kids a rural, coastal environment and a sense of community. We put out affirmations and here we are 15 years later with the beautiful ocean within our reach.
When did you start painting and what inspired you to start painting your ocean art? I have only been painting for a few years, dabbling and having some lessons since I left work awhile back. My first sea painting was of a turtle I swam with in a deserted bay on Lord Howe Island. I swam alongside this inquisitive baby turtle for ages whilst it cruised over the coral. It was a moment of pure love that I just had to try to recreate.
I have had 3 Melanomas, which has given me the opportunity to look deep within and reconnect with my spiritual side. Now I take the time for me and also have the time so I paint for me. The more I paint the more ideas seem to flow and opportunities arise. Most of my ideas come while I am walking along the beach quietly. I am a Piscean so I think my beach landscapes just had to come.
What inspires you now on a daily basis? Ordinary, everyday people inspire me. I love to travel and explore towns, villages, studios and markets and chat to artists selling their wares. I love the story and energy behind the art rather than trawling through a museum on my own. Everyone has a story and you discover passionate people this way. I love to sit and watch someone painting in their favourite environment.
And your connection to the sea, tell us a bit more about that and how it relates to your art… My connection to the sea is so personal; I need the energy and negative ions from the ocean. I need to hear the waves at night to lull me to sleep. I need to see the dancing diamonds on the ocean to warm my spirit. The beach is where I do all my thinking and solve the problems of the world! The sea has taught me lessons and helped heal me. I have swum with dolphins and sea lions. I love marine creatures and have a desire to do a collection of paintings of them. The colours and patterns in nature are amazing but mostly I want to capture the beauty and spirit of the creature whether it be a breaching whale or tiny seahorse. ‘When I am painting anything to do with the sea or nature I feel I am connecting to my love of it and hope that I am conveying the beauty and essence to others’
What is a typical day in the life of Kerrie Swan the artist? I am not a structured person but I have this little routine that has developed to set the scene for my painting. I have set my easel up in my bedroom because I can look out my huge windows over the beach, mountains and bush land. It is an amazing view and inspires me. The sun warms my soul here. I always start with a statement of gratitude and then ask my “arty guides” to allow the energy to flow. I crank up Van Morrison’s “Bright side of the Road” and have a little dance around while I set up my paints. I always listen to music, it uplifts me, soothes my soul and is such a fun start to my day. I paint because I love to, this is about me, this is for me, this is an expression of my being. Art for me is about being in the moment. My 3 labradors are always at my side while I paint too. They love it, they are my art critics!
I heard a little rumour that a percentage of the profits from your art goes to a wildlife orphanage. Can you tell us more about this? 20% of the profits from my artwork sales go to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. I visited here 10 months ago to see the amazing work they are doing with the orphaned baby elephants, victims of poaching. It was love at first sight and I fostered a baby. I started selling my art at Easter this year and now have 5 foster babies. It is also my passion. I am extremely grateful to all who buy my art because it allows me to support an amazing project.
What does the near future hold for you as an artist and a gypsy sea soul? I am traveling around Australia next year with my husband Peter and will be painting as I go. I am hoping to sell my art on the road to like-minded travellers who experience what I am seeing and feeling, the connection, a sense of place in time. So maybe my art will be on tour in someone’s caravan or motorhome next year. LOL How good would that be!