Featured Artist Katrina Swanson

Artist Katrina Swanson presents a collection of nostalgic oil paintings that bring memories to life. Visit her website to see more of her artwork.


retro sign painting by Katrina Swanson

“LaCasa Pizza” oil, 18″ x 24″


I’ve been interested in making things from an early age. I would bounce around between hobbies, searching for something that satisfied my need to create. I really enjoyed the process, but the final product was usually disappointing. When I was introduced to painting, I finally found the process that satisfied that craving.


painting of gum ball machines by Katrina Swanson

“Bouncy Balls” oil, 48″ x 36″


Early in my journey I was painting photorealistic flowers with watercolors. I used my camera to capture images of flowers and nature with dramatic color and light. While I enjoyed the medium, it became frustrating.


painting of old bicycles by Katrina Swanson

“Yard Sale Bicycles” oil, 24″ x 24″


A mentor suggested changing my medium to oils and I eventually did so. It was difficult, helped me improve as a painter and gave me the freedom to change what I was painting.


painting of retro candy by Katrina Swanson

“Dots” oil, 36″ x 48″


Around the time I was learning oils, my son Shane was born. His sister Liberty was born two years later. I continued to paint during this time and while I wasn’t as productive as before, I was able to learn and grow as an artist.


painting of retro candy by Katrina Swanson

“Smarties & Suckers” oil, 36″ x 48″


Slowing down and being able to think about what direction you want to go as an artist is very important. As a result of this I changed my subject matter to more urban street scenes.


painting of old bicycles by Katrina Swanson

“Three Old Bikes” oil, 40″ x 30″


It was a challenge to figure out perspective, but the more I painted the more successfully the paintings turned out. I would wander around Omaha’s Old Market and surrounding areas taking pictures of interesting corners and shopfronts, then doing realistic paintings of them. I did several series, including night paintings.


painting of swirled lollipops by Katrina Swanson

“Swirly Lollipops” oil, 48″ x 30″


In November of 2016 I had a significant stroke. I was forty-six years old at the time and recovered relatively quickly, but the stroke affected the right side of my body. I had to relearn how to paint. It was devastating to go to my studio and not be able to work on my painting. By January 2017 I was recovered enough to paint for short periods, but I tired easily.


painting of retro motel sign by Katrina Swanson

“Satellite” oil, 18″ x 24″


When I had the stroke, the doctors had no explanation for the cause. In late January 2017, I went in for my annual mammogram and it was found that I had stage 2 breast cancer. The cancerous tumor was the likely cause for my stroke. I spent the year going through several surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Although I tried to paint through the process, the chemotherapy affected my eyes and I was exhausted most of the time.


painting of an old bike by Katrina Swanson

“Forgotten Fun” oil, 48″ x 40″


Although it was rough, those years of illness allowed me to think about the direction I wanted to go with my art. I’m currently working on capturing retro and vintage objects. I want to paint fun things that bring back great memories of my childhood.


Artist Katrina Swanson with her painting "Dots"

Artist Katrina Swanson with her painting “Dots”


I love the process of painting detail, texture, light and color. I bounce around from painting to painting. It satisfies my need to make things!


Artist Katrina Swanson invites you to follow her on Instagram and Facebook.


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  1. Can I use one of your images, ‘Yard Sale Bikes’ or ‘ Smarties and Suckers’ for instance, as the image for the ‘Artists in Business’ meetup gathering I run once a month. I usually just give a credit to the artist, but I would be happy to create a link back to this page.

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