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Thinking about current events

red linocut with houses and hearts with text Love One Another

I AM watching the news, and I don’t want you all to think that I have my head buried in the sand, and am just happily in my own little world, making art. I see what’s happening to us, and it hurts me deeply. I don’t know what I can do to make it better, so I share things that help me and others feel good, and encourage them to work on their own creative projects. Art is a great way to deal with feelings. For me, art is a therapy, and there are a lot of studies that show it really does cause positive things to happen in the brain. There are also studies that show that social media is causing psychological and social problems…

i don’t use social media for politics. In my perspective, it’s a terrible way to try and have dialogue about divisive issues. I’ve watched friendships end and families grow further apart because of the way social media brings out, and magnifies the worst in some people. (i guess it’s profitable, or the tech companies just like to destroy people’s lives) I have friends from a wide range of perspectives, who I know in real life, and I can tell you, we have more in common than social media would have us believe.

I believe that religion is personal, and I don’t talk about it on social media (for the same reasons). Since it’s Sunday, and I think it is important, I will share with you that I believe that we are ALL children of God, we are ALL brothers and sisters. EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect, fairness and dignity. I believe (and I’m trying to be better at) following Christ’s teaching to love thy neighbor as thyself. I know this is a crazy time, and everyone is scared and angry a suffering loss and going through a million other feelings right now. I hope that all of these challenges we are going through has some kind of meaning, and, in the end, we use this experience to lift each other up, and become better neighbors.

I’m scared, and feel helpless and angry, but I also feel more connected, and a feeling of togetherness with you all (even if we have to stay 6 feet apart). You have gotten me through, what is possibly the biggest trial of my lifetime. Since social media isn’t going away, let’s use it to keep the good vibes going, and try to have a little more understanding and empathy toward each other…this is HARD, but we will get through this together.

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Home Sick Art Fair – Tomorrow May 16, 2020

Tomorrow is the #homeSickArtFair!!! My original idea was to have a display on the front porch, but since the weather has its own ideas, I’m improvising a gallery inside the house. It feels really good hanging an exhibit. It’s been awhile, but this makes me feel closer to normal…even it it is still a virtual show. Hope you’ll come visit via Facebook and instagram. There are 16 participating artists. Tomorrow, use the #homesickArtFair to see everything happening at the fair!

artist with hammer in studio
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Upcoming printmaking exhibit at Appalshop

kentucky artists ken swinson and lacy hale at appalshop in whitesburg ky

Printmaker, painter and muralist, Lacy Hale invited me to ehibit some of my printmaking work and artZines at the Appalshop gallery in Whitesburg, KY. I have been a fan of her work ever since meeting her online. Not only is her art beautiful and magical, it also has social conscious, and is closely tied to her community. She recently finished a mural for the 2nd Mountain Mural fest in Harlan, KY.

still from lacy hale interview in corbin kentucky

She is interviewed as part of the news coverage of the event, and the story tells is a great example of why it’s so important to have art and artists in rural spaces. You can watch the MYMT segment here

Appalachian building with colorful mural
mural in Whitesburg, KY

As a rural artist, I’m interested in how we can help make a positive impact on our small towns. Whitesburg is an inspiring example of what is possible when creative people stay and make a positive change in their small towns.

panoramic photo of whitesburg kentucky
Whitesburg has a record store and multiple live music venues
photo of main street in whitesburg kentucky
busy downtown Whitesburg

For a small mountain town with only 2000 people, there’s a lot of creative type businesses, music venues, cafes and public art.

photo of public art on building beside creek in whitesburg kentucky
public art beside creek

Most of the main street buildings were occupied, and my first impression was that it has a good energy, and is the kind of place I would want to visit again.

appalshop in whitesburg kentucky

I had never visited Appalshop, but over my last 19 years as a Kentuckian, their documentaries have helped shape my understanding of our region.

antique video editing machine at appalshop
analog film editing machine at Appalshop

I consider Appalshop to be a national treasure. For 50 years, they have used the power of arts and culture to create meaningful social and economic change in our region. It was a thrill to see their studio and to meet some of the people who make it happen.

photo of appalshop building beside creek in whitesburg kentucky
Appalshop

Not only does Appalshop create documentaries — they also create filmmakers.

Across the street from their studio is another one of their programs: The Appalachian Media Institute (AMI).

exterior photo of the appalachian media institute in whitesburg kentucky
Appalachian Media Institute

AMI is a community-based arts and education center offering training and resources for young creatives and filmmakers.

the green room at the Appalachian media institute in whitesburg kentucky
One of AMI’s editing rooms

The program has been helping young artists and filmmakers for over 30 years. The current program coordinator, Willa Johnson is an alumni of the program.

portrait of wendell berry by misty skaggs
an artist/activist who i admire (Wendell Berry) painted by another artist/activist i admire (Misty Skaggs) hangs between 2 of AMI’s editing rooms

My printmaking exhibit will be at the Appalshop gallery from July 9 until August 22nd. I’m excited to announce that, at the closing of the exhibit (August 22), we are going to kick off our next artZine season by making one at AMI!

collaborative space for artists at the Appalachian Media Institute in whitesburg kentucky
A great space to work and collaborate at AMI

This will be an opportunity for YOU to visit Whitesburg, and get to know some of it’s people–while making art together!

Our theme for Summer’s ArtZine is:


Art Makes the World Better by…


so go ahead and start working on your entries! See you in Whitesburg!

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Artwork featured in Energy Insurance Agency’s new Cincinnati East office

Energy Insurance Agency, just opened a new office in Cinncinnati East, and used my artwork for the reception area.

ken Swinson paintings of cincinnati framed and on display

I see my artwork in a studio setting all the time, but its a special treat to be able to see my artwork in it’s forever home.

ken swinson cincinnati paintings framed an on display over a desk

Here are some photos from their grand opening.

artist ken swinson paintings of cincinnati framed and on display with still life of flowers

Thank you Energy Insurance Agency for supporting local art in your new office!

artist ken swinson paintings of  cincinnati framed and on display at reception desk

If you are in the Cincinnati East area, give their office a visit, to see the art and office in person. They are happy to help any size business, small or very large, with coverage options including business insurance, employee benefits and bonds.

they serve customers all across the country, so even if the office isn’t close, you can visit their website: www.energyinsagency.com for more information.

thanks again Energy Insurance Agency for supporting my work.

photos courtesy of Carrie Glover

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Downtown Cincinnati/Over-The-Rhine Sketch Trip

sketch trip downtown and over the rhine cincinnati ohio

My studio is in an interesting part of Cincinnati. It overlooks the business district and the historic neighborhood, Over-The-Rhine. If I ever need inspiration I just look out the window

kentucky artist sketching the view of cincinnati ohio with an ipad v

There is so much in one view, i can’t fit it all into one sketch.

Here’s my sketch of downtown. I like the contrast between the old church in the foreground and the modern towers in the background.

ipad sketch of cincinnati view ohio
ipad sketch of the pendleton neighborhood in cincinnati ohio

Over-The-Rhine is unique because of the concentration of old buildings in an urban space. Recently, filmmakers have started coming to OTR to use as a set for New York City in the early 1900s.

ipad sketch of music hall in the over the rhine neighborhood of cincinnati ohio

The crown jewel of the neighborhood is  the newly renovated, Music Hall: featured in the middle of this sketch.

ipad drawing of music hall in cincinnati ohio, over the rhine

I’ll probably use these sketches as a study for a woodcut(s). There is so much interesting geometry (and all the windows!!!) it would be awesome to print.

If you would like to visit my studio, it will be open to the public this Friday from 6-10pm. The 8 story warehouse is filled with over 200 art studios to explore. This opportunity only comes once a month. More info here: Pendleton Art Center-Cincinnati.

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2 Weeks Of Bullet Journaling

composition book two weeks of bullet journaling

Organization is not easy for me. I’ll have a broad range of different thoughts at once. It can be a beautiful thing, but quickly tailspin into chaos and dysfunction. I don’t think this is a unique struggle. Since our adoption of so much technology into our daily lives, we have been immersed in an massive amount of information…Not to mention tech companies constantly competing for our attention.  It’s becoming a norm for the people I meet to be overwhelmed, easily distracted and unorganized.

handmade leather journal by Mea Dewers in Augusta Kentukcy

Two weeks ago, a friend gave me a quick glimpse at their Bullet Journal. It was filled with colorful drawings and doodles; enough to spark my interest and to want to learn more. You can do a quick web search to learn more about the Bullet Journal. I have been using one for the last two weeks, and here are some of my thoughts:

Paper Is A Refreshing Change

animation of bookbinding by hand

There have been studies that show a hand written note on paper is easier to remember than a note typed into a computer or cell phone.

Working in a paper notebook has less distractions. The apps on my phone have been designed to constantly try to get my attention. A notebook has no apps and getting away from the phone helps me to focus.

Its nice to be able to flip through my notebook. I’ll get a glimpse of an ongoing project, and it reminds me to think about it. Often, my digital notes disappear into a void; never to be seen again.

I Feel Like I Am Staying On Track

I keep my Bullet Journal open on my desk. The constant visual reminder helps me to stay focused on the day’s goals. Even when I don’t get something done, the unfinished goals follow me to the next day. Now that I have a place to store my random thoughts, I can see the different pieces come togething into something useful.

Less Frills == Better For Me

a hand writing in a journal

The colorful drawings and charts that are possible are what got me interested in Bullet Journaling. I have since learned that a minimal style notebook is a better fit for my personality (for now). I get to draw and use colors all day in my studio, I don’t need a journal for a creative outlet: I need to quickly store and retrieve information. The plain black pen works for me.

Two weeks might not be enough time to determine whether or not this will be a useful tool or not, but my first impressions are good. Certainly good enough to continue using this system. If you are looking for a system to keep yourself organized, you might consider the Bullet Journal.

handwriting in a journal

*Fun Fact: I wrote this blog post on paper before typing it on the computer.

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Afternoon Sketches In Maysville

overlook view of downtown maysville kentucky from bank street

Yesterday, I went down to the river to do some sketching. Maysville is charming little river town. One of it’s distinguishing features is a suspension bridge that connects Kentucky and Ohio.

My first sketch was the view from bank and 6th street. It’s a great view of the town. I decided to do a panoramic drawing, to give a wider view of the place.

ipad sketch of maysville kentucky

My second sketch was the corner by the Rotory Club Park…where the road goes under the train tracks.

ipad sketch of downtown maysville kentucky

I think the theme for today is ‘bridges’

ipad sketch of the bridge in downtown maysville kentucky

For my final sketch, I crossed the river, and sketched the town from the river park in Aberdeen, Ohio.

ipad sketch of downtown maysville kentucky from aberdeen ohio

You can probably tell that the sun was going down at this point, so I didn’t get to put all the details into this sketch, but the composition is all worked out.

What a great day of sketching! Of course, Maysville is such a pretty town, it’s not possible to get a bad drawing.

I’m going to make a woodcut of at least one of these sketches. Help me decide, and let me know which sketch is your favorite.