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Painting studies of church at Vicco, KY

I want to start the year doing more painting.
Over the summer, while in Vicco, KY, I sketched a scene of a little church beside a creek. Using the original sketch as reference, i drew these three compositions, using a sharpie marker.

3 sketch studies of a church in vicco kentucky

I like all 3 for different reasons, so I’m going to make 3 different paintings

the first step in painting 3 churches in Vicco Kentucky
the 3 paintings — work in progress

the one on the left has it’s base colors…now time to color the other 2

3 paintings of church in vicco kentucky work in progress

UPDATE: 7pm a little more color, will do some more painting tomorrow


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New paintings -indoor safari + geese

I’ve been back in the paint studio, and am super excited about my new acrylic paintings.

8×10” framed acrylic painting.

our little birdie is on a safari adventure inside the people house. Such interesting plants and wildlife!

And a portrait of the Canada geese, who winter here in Old Washington

Click either of the links for a better look, and information on how to support my work by buying a fine art reproduction.

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Checking in from us route 62 – Old Washington, KY to Niagara Falls, NY

Greetings from US Route 62! I’m trying to explore and get to know the entire highway. Yesterday, I was inspired to try to make it to the highways furthest east/north point: Niagara Falls.

I DID make it past Columbus (my previous furthest distance) and stopped at ye old mill in Utica, Ohio. It is the home of Velvet Ice Cream. Their headquarters is located in a historic old mill. I was tempted to make a painting, but wanted to cover more distance, so I settled on a few sketches

holding a sketch in front of ye olde mill in utica ohio
Ye Old Mill-Utica, Ohio

After driving through picture perfect Amish Country (I am going to stop on my way home) I arrived at lanterman’s mill in Youngstown, Ohio.

sketch held in front of lanternmans mill in youngstown ohio
lanterman’s mill in Youngstown ohio

Lanterman’s Mill is a beautifully restored mill, located by a waterfall in a beautiful gorge. (it’s gorgeous!)

I had a feeling my theme for the trip was going to be mills.

The next day, I arrived at Niagara Falls. I was prepared for a big and beautiful waterfall, but STILL was unprepared for the majesty of the falls…especially the iconic horseshoe falls.

I was too intimidated to try to capture the horseshoe falls. I don’t think a photo even get’s close to giving you an idea of what it is like.

photo of rainbow at niagara falls ny
horseshoe falls-niagara falls

It was also very busy, and i didn’t want to try to push through a crowd of people to try to setup my easel and paint.

Instead, I chose to paint the bridge between the USA and Canada. It is actually the very beginning of US 62, which I thought was appropriate. I also love the symbolism of bridges, because they bring people together!

plein air painting of the bridge and falls of the americas at niagara falls, new york
Falls of the Americas – Niagara Falls

The overlook where I stood has so much mist from the Niagara Falls, that the painting was covered with water from the falls. Good thing I was painting in oils!

Now that I have surveyed the entire East of Old Washington section of US Route 62, I am taking my time, stopping to study, or get to know places that got my interest on the way up. I won’t lie to you…it’s not always easy for me to travel. I’ve seen so much on this trip, i’m visually and creatively overwhelmed. I’m stopping to make sketches on my drive home, but I’m also feeling a little tired, and I miss my studio. I’d like to dive deeper and start some big studio paintings. Stay tuned, I’ll have more to share soon!

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A Special Delivery – M’s Canvashouse

My friend, Meredith owns a business in Lexington, KY, called M’s Canvashouse, which supplies hand painted canvas designs and anything else you could need for needlepoint.

She works with all kinds of artists; including Charlie Harper (one of my favorites!) and …..Ken Swinson!

in meredith willetts studio looking at new designs
M’s Canvashouse has a wonderful new space…a beautiful store and showroom (not pictured) and great workroom

She recently moved to a new building, and needed a painting for her new office! The walls in her office are pink. What better place for ” Here, Birdy birdy”!

I love it when I get to deliver a painting in person (especially big art). It’s very exciting to see my painting in it’s new home.

painting of cat hanging on office wall

Thank you Meredith, for supporting my art; bringing it into your home and workplace, collaborating with me, and inspiring me with the possibilities of builidng a successful creative business.

artists ken swinson and meredith willett
Ken and Meredith

Stitchers! if you haven’t already visited her new shop, pay her a visit the next time you are in Lexington.

m's canvas house storefront lexington ky
M’s Canvashouse new building!

Or visit online:

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Goddard Bridge – Plein Air Painting

It’s a hot sunny day, but I still can’t help stopping at the picture perfect Goddard Covered bridge in Fleming County, Ky.

panoramic photo of the  historic goddard bridge in goddard kentucky

It’s been awhile since i’ve made a plein air painting. This is a perfect opportunity!

pen sketch of the historic goddard covered bridge in goddard kentucky
ive got my sktech done…let’s start painting!
plein air underpainting of the goddard bridge in goddard kentucky
underpanting…now time for color!
plein air oil painting of the goddard bridge with actual bridge in the background of the photo
Goddard Bridge – oil on panel
4 1/2″x6″
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Here, Birdy Birdy

I just finished this portrait of my cat, his name is Here. He’s a sweet cat, but unfortunately, a birder–he’s also lazy, and will try anything to keep from having to work so hard.

The original is a 24×30″ acrylic on canvas. Because of the size, If you live within 100 miles of Maysville, KY. I will hand deliver your painting. if i need to ship by USPS, there is still no charge, but the canvas will be removed from the canvas, and shipped in a tube. UPDATE: the original has found it’s forever home

Prints are also available if you or someone you love is a cat/art lover.

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Repurposing an old paintbox

My friend and neighbor gave me an old paint box that was missing a few screws.

french easel modified to hang on a wall with canvas backdrop

I decided to take the easel part from the reat of the box, then mount it on my wall… Yhat way i get adjustable easel features, without legs taking a lot of prexious space in my studio.

painting of yellow dog with bees and flowers hanging on wall by ken swinson

The easel can hold a pretty large canvas for example, this 28“ tall canvas fits with room for even larger! (pay no attention to the unfinished painting on the wall)

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Georgetown, ohio Grant’s childhood home

Today i came to Georgetown, Ohio with a goal of painting US Grant’s Childhood home.

plein air sketch of grants home in georgetown ohio
The childhood home of US Grant

After sketching the front view of the home, i decided that the light wasn’t right for a painting, so i walked around, looking for a better view.

sketch of grants home in georegetown kentucky
The back view of the house

The back of the house had much more interesting light, so i sketched it out, and was surprised that the composition wanted to be a panoramic.

plein air underpainting of grants home in georgetown ohio
The values and composition worked out for the painting

I decided to ignore the bright blue sky, and emphasize the orange bricks and yellow light bouncing off everything

plein air painting by artist ken swinson of grants home in georgetown ohio

Not only did i get a good painting, but i also met quite a few really nice people, like Vince and Bobbi Shelton, a retired couple (celebrating 50 years of marriage) who are traveling to see all the different homes of the different presidents.

two visitors from out of town visiting the grant home in georgetown ohio

They have been to all except, Obama, Ford, Reagan, Nixon, both Adams and Kennedy…isn’t that a cool project!?!

UPDATE i stayed long enough, the light is where i wanted it, so im going to make my original painting. Stay tuned for updates as they happen

plein air setup of grant's home in georgetown ohio
plein air underpainting of grant's home in georgetown kentucky by artist ken swinson
Composition and values worked out…time for color
plein air painting of grant's home in georgetown ohio by ken swinson
Finished! Us grant’s childhood 4 1/2×6″ oil on wood panel
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Plein Air Painting in Arkansas

I really love Arkansas! Once I crossed the Mississippi river and Missouri, there was a southern vibe I have never experienced. Armadillos, Cotton Fields, and miles and miles of wheat! Much of the landscape is flat, so I can see for miles and miles.

photo of grain mill in corning arkansas

For my first plein air painting, I chose a giant grain silo. Agriculture is such a big part of this area, and with the land being so flat, the grain silos tower over the towns. I decided to stop in in the town of Corning to paint their grain silo because of the muted primary colors: red, yellow and blue.

sketch of grain mill in corning arkansas
the silo is so enormous, i decided to only paint a section of the structure
plein air painting of a grain mill in corning arkansas by ken swinson
plein air painting of grain mill in corning arkansas
Corning AR, 4 1/2×6″ Oil on Wood Panel

I wanted to make a painting to capture the flat landscape of the Mississippi floodplains. Coming from the hills of Kentucky; flat earth takes a little getting used to. Once again, i tried to zoom in, and paint the little farm, far off in the distance

plein air painting of the flat lands near pigot arkansas
Wheat Fields-Arkansas 12×4 1/2″ oil on board

It was a whirlwind trip, but my first time that far west on Us Route 62-I’m looking forward to returning soon to get to know it better and make more art!