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Sara Swan finds new inspiration in the abstract 

click to enlarge SARA SWAN
  • Sara Swan
When California-based artist Sara Swan was invited to show her latest work at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, she decided that distance would not deter her from opportunity. She loaded her paintings and pastels into a van and set out on a road trip to Colorado with her sister.

To some, it would seem like a rather bold decision. For Swan, however, it was simply the latest in a string of brave choices that had shaped the trajectory of her artistic career. About 18 months ago, she had already made her boldest shift up to that point: shedding the detail and formality of her illustrator-influenced figurative pastel artwork for the unfamiliar territory of abstract acrylic and oil painting.

“I had started to feel really uninspired,” she says. “After so many years, figurative work just wasn’t as satisfying anymore.”

Swan says at first the idea of being an abstract artist seemed like too much of a leap from the lines and detail of figure work she was so familiar and comfortable with. She leapt anyway.

“It was really refreshing to start over and do something really different. I got way more into it than I ever predicted I would.”

She hasn’t abandoned all aspects of her past work. The curves and shapes of her pastel drawings have found new life in the abstract, expressed through wide brushstrokes of paint on canvas. She’s also carried over her love of vibrant colors. “I’m really seduced by color,” she says.

Swan’s show, Then and Now, highlights this evolution from formal to abstract — her past work and current work hang together in the exhibit. Swan wanted to convey the progression of her art, rather than simply hanging her latest paintings in a standalone show.

“It was a process for me, and I thought it would be more interesting for the viewer to see the arc of an artist’s career.”

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