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Hilary Swingle

‘Artists can bring people together by acknowledging a deep, collective truth.’

Hilary Swingle hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. Her most recent work puts the focus on women in the context of current societal trends and expectations. She addresses the struggles, the empowerment and expectations in highly detailed compositions.


Hilary with her work, 'to be seen'

Where is your current studio? What would be your dream studio? I currently have a home studio. The prior homeowners knocked down a wall between two bedrooms so it’s a decent size. I love the convenience of working from home and being able to pop in and paint for just an hour or two. My dream studio would be any space with vaulted ceilings! Currently, I can’t raise my easel to the fullest height due to our lower ceilings. It makes working on larger pieces a bit of a challenge. I’ve started to see shed companies design studio spaces that can be built in your backyard. Maybe I’ll do something like that one day.

Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you? I LOVE listening to books and podcasts while I paint. I listen to a lot of political, historical and news podcasts (ugh, I know) but I have a lot of anxiety regarding our current political climate in the United States and it makes me feel better to stay informed. Music wise, Jenny Lewis is one of my all time favorites. I’m a sucker for the folksy, indy stuff but I also had Lizzo’s album on repeat for at least a month straight last summer.

Unoriginal Sin

Studio life can lead to isolation, how do you address this/ keep a balance? I work outside the home part time as a cardiac sonographer so I interact with all different kinds of people everyday. I hear patient’s stories which run the emotional gamut. It can be heavy and emotionally taxing so I find respite in my home studio after work. Painting at home is meditative and recharging but nothing beats working around other artists. There is a group of truly gifted artists with which I take a monthly class at a posh local tattoo shop. The art professor from one of the state universities comes in to teach us for a few hours. It’s nonstop teasing, joking and laughter. Do you have a personal mantra or quote which serves to motivate you? My mom will love this question because this mantra came from her when we were kids growing up. “Baby steps.” I hear those words in her voice and with her cadence even as I read those words. As an impatient, angsty teenager it was the most annoying retort to hear but as an adult I’ve learned to really appreciate the sentiment behind those two words. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself when I want to achieve a goal. It helps me to put a long journey in perspective by reminding myself it’s okay if I can only accomplish a few small steps at a time.

At your own peri

How has your style evolved and what contributed to the changes? When I began painting again 3 years ago, I thought to be a successful painter meant you were able to sit down and paint a beautiful alla prima portrait in a couple hours. I have a current art instructor that makes me want to weep with how quickly and beautifully he can capture a subject. I completely admire anyone with that skill set. That genre of painting speaks to a sense of spontaneity, expressiveness, a confident casualness. I never got very good at it. I think it’s because I would use none of those adjectives to describe myself. I’m a list maker, a planner, a drafter. I started to find my most successful paintings were done using the indirect method and when I followed that outline. I would love to return to alla prima painting but for now I’m content with playing to my strengths. Nature versus nurture- do you believe you have inherited abilities from creative parents, do you have creative siblings? Can you identify environmental factors or influences which led to your choices or directions? My grandmother, Donnabelle, was a beautiful watercolorist. Everyday after school she would tend my sister and me. We would sit on her kitchen counter where she had set up a still life and we would paint for hours. She always encouraged my painting and she introduced me to all different kinds of artwork. I fell in love with the Renaissance period in grade school. When we had library time I would go find this huge book, mostly filled with nudes from that era. I’m sure I was thought to be an odd little 4th grader. But my grandmother never made me feel weird about it. She deserves a lot of credit for that given her generation and our conservative community. Anyone that knew Donnabelle knew she was always a bit of an instigator.

What do you hope to convey through your work? Aside from trying to create something aesthetically pleasing, I would hope to tell the viewer they aren’t alone.

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@gingerbee

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