Who is Ray Swirsky?

Most of my life I’ve spent on the outside of the art world looking in, watching artists, visiting galleries, all the time suppressing my silly belief that I too could paint such fine works of art if I set my mind to it. And then by chance in the summer of 2014 I was invited to a new friend’s home only to discover that this new friend was an actual artist with what appeared to me to be the most grandest studio I had ever seen. Actually, it was the only private artist studio I had ever seen so needless to say, I was impressed. What followed was some deep discussion about art and by the end of the evening I had accepted my friend’s challenge to pursue my one simmering aspiration that I kept stifled for so long.

With no formal education in the arts it was fortuitous that I signed up for art classes with an instructor that can teach and mentor me in the basic skills in such a way that I could understand and grow. The concepts of how colour, value and intensity relate to one another I grasped quickly, but applying these concepts in practice with a brush and a pallet full of paint is a much more difficult task. Mixing paint on canvas? A scary thought, and something I am tasked with every time I stand in front of my canvas but I accept the challenge as it’s the only way to achieve the neutral colours I am after that more truly imitate life and get me closer to my desired results.

I most like to paint landscapes and wildlife from Western Canada, but I am purposely pushing myself with every other painting by selecting a different subject matter with completely different lighting and composition to force myself to understand how to use my paints better and more efficiently. If you view my catalogue of work you will find everything from elephants to mountain scenes, still life to portrait, and birch trees to a water bomber over a raging forest fire.

My constant struggle is achieving the balance between value and intensity in some areas of my paintings during the process of creation while keeping it loose and painterly as my tendency is to move too quickly to detail thus freezing a section of my painting. I have many times had to undo, or back-out the detail, before I could move forward again. It doesn’t bother me when I do have to do over some of my work as I learn a great deal by going too far in one direction and having to backtrack.

As an emerging artist without an abundance of work behind me, I have been fortunate to have had my work accepted into many juried competitions and exhibitions. I continue to work diligently, learning from each new creation, trying to become more consistent at my approach and how I handle my medium. I study and watch other artists every chance I get as there is much to learn from understanding how other artists dealt with different lighting conditions, composition, subject matter and medium.

Some of my work can be seen any day of the week at the Painted Moose Studio & Gallery in Bragg Creek, Alberta where I have a variety of genre and sizes available for viewing and for sale. If you are coming to the gallery and want to know if you’ll catch me painting, please call or text me and I can let you know what days I will be in. 403-404-6692.