Essex Art Association

Established 1946

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Len Swec

Gantner Gallery, July 2 - 23, 2022

Artist Biography and Statement

I have had a life-long interest and commitment to making art. I got my start at age six, when I was diagnosed (in error, as it turns out) with a serious illness that kept me bed-ridden for months. In order to keep me entertained, my parents hired babysitters from a local community college, who happened to be art students, and who provided me instruction and encouragement in drawing.

From that start, I took up oil painting, which continued through grade school, college, graduate school and on into the start of my career in engineering and scientific software development. The time constraints imposed by a non art-related career drove me to experiment with acrylics in my 20s, because I found they afforded me the ability to work faster and more flexibly in my free time, yet still provided much of the familiarity and feel of painting in oil. By my 30s, I switched to acrylics exclusively. Though I continued to paint on occasion throughout my career, it was with less frequency as the years went by. I never lost the passion for painting, however, and promised myself that I would return to it again someday. After retiring in 2013, I took up painting again as a full-time endeavor.

My artistic style, techniques and skills are entirely self-taught, though I have taken studio classes, and have always valued interaction with other artists, as well as the inspiration that comes from seeing how others create, and what I can learn from their experiences. Over the years and at various times, I have studied the techniques of the Northern European and Italian masters, the Hudson River School painters, American Western artists, and contemporary masters of realism and fantasy from around the world. In recent years, online demonstrations have also provided useful ideas for expanding my horizons.

My style is realism; some call it hyper-realism or photo-realism. However, this is somewhat misleading. Because I like to work at a fast pace, I have a tendency to become bored with a painting after a few weeks, so most of my pieces are completed in a relatively short time. To support my style of realistic detail, I have developed the use of tools and techniques that allow me to create what may appear to be intricate detail that doesn’t require extreme amounts of time to achieve. This also involves constant experimentation; in every painting there is an experiment or two behind the finished product.

The subjects of my paintings are quite varied. In my early days, the subjects were mostly landscapes, with an occasional wildlife piece. Over the years I have become interested in seascapes, architecture, cityscapes, still-life, portraiture, figurative art, and fantasy. I consider myself a student of all genres. Regarding the last one, some of my favorite artists are painters of fantasy and sci-fi; in my own art, some of my landscapes are entirely imaginary, occasionally interspersed with elements of real places. In the realm of figurative subjects and portraiture, I enjoy capturing candid moments that suggest the interest or emotion of the individual. My still-life subjects tend to be unconventional, such as a pair of shoes, an antique tool, or a detail from a boat.

My work has appeared in many local, national and international exhibitions, and has won numerous awards. My paintings are also a part of many private collections.