Growing up on her grandparents’ 11,000-acre cattle ranch near Casper, Swinney came to know and love the mountains, canyons, meadows, and never-ending Wyoming sky. Along with nature, the other constant in Swinney’s life has been art. One of her great-great uncles in England was an accomplished artist, a grandmother painted landscapes and portraits, and her mother was a skilled painter. Her own earliest memories are of drawing the animals around her. Swinney prefers to paint on location at such places as the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the mountains near Tucson, Arizona and the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming.
Swinney has mastered a style of painting using a palette knife, which she uses exclusively in her work. After experimenting with brushes the knife always drew her back for many reasons. “Nature is uneven and has texture. The knife lends itself to that,” she explains. “I love texture, and love to see a lot of paint on the canvas. A painting knife gives rich colors and amazing depth like you’re sculpting a painting. Contrast, composition and lighting capture my attention while on location so I paint when colors are rich and light is more dramatic.”
Swinney spent two years as an art major at the University of Wyoming, has done numerous workshops with artists such as Morton Solberg and Scott Christiansen. She spent several years painting on location with Jackson plein-air artists Greg McHuron and has studied extensively with nationally recognized plein-air palette knife artist Bill Freeman.
Swinney has received over 30 awards since 2005 including 2 Best in Shows, 4 People’s Choice awards, Best Landscape at the 2005 National Oil Painters of America Show, the Award of Excellence at the 2008 OPA Western Regional Show and 2013 RMPAP Plein Air for the Parks Show, and the Governor’s Choice Award at the 2010 Cowgirl Up! Show. She has had numerous one-woman shows and participated in museum exhibitions including the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Gilcrease Museum, the Briscoe Museum of Western Art, the CM Russell Museum, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, the Old West Museum, and the Clymer Museum. She has earned that status of a Master Signature Member and served as past President of American Woman Artists. Her work can be found in fine galleries and prominent collections throughout the United States. She has been featured in Southwest Art, Art of the West, Sky West, The Artist’s Magazine, Art Talk, and Western Art Collector.