Swan River

While kayaking on the section of water that is shown in the earlier Swan River paintings (further below), I asked my son, Neil, to take a picture of the view upriver. Later, in the studio, I painted a series of three of these landscapes.

On the Swan River #1
Steve and Gerry Connolly
Big Fork, MT
2009 • 24 x 18

On the Swan River #2
Amy Champion
Oceanside, CA
2009 • 24 x 18

On the Swan River #3
Paul and Tina Dores
Rancho Bernardo, CA
2009 • 14 x 11

Swan River
with Amelia and Brian
Michelle and Josh Bernheim
Carlsbad, CA
2011 • 14 x 11

Swan River
Michael & Jordonna Dores
Bigfork, MT
2005 • 40 x 30

My wife, Lindsey, and I have close friends who live on the banks of the Swan River in Montana. It’s a beautiful and serene location, and from the moment I laid eyes on it, I knew I wanted to paint some of the views from their home. I’ve never done as many preparatory sketches for a painting as I did for the “Swan River” painting, including more than a dozen watercolors of the scene in different color schemes. “Swan River #2” was done as a rough draft before beginning the final canvas. This entire process is documented in a short video here. It begins with photographs and watercolors, and the second half shows the stages of creating the oil painting, with rare close-ups of brush strokes that capture the essence of my style.

My friends were gracious with their compliments for this piece, which they hung in their bedroom. However, they still had an empty, adjacent wall; so, I painted another of their views, the “Heart Tree on Swan River” which now fills that space.

Heart Tree on Swan River
Detail

Heart Tree on Swan River
Michael & Jordonna Dores
Bigfork, MT
2007 • 40 x 30

Swan River #2
Laura Hill
Worthington, OH
2007 • 40 x 30