Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Liberty Interview: Patricia Schwimmer

UPDATE May 20, 2023:  
Patricia has a NEW book!  Link to order here.
See book cover at bottom of this post!

The Liberty Post Interview
July 2013

It was a sunny and warm August morning. I drove along the tree canopied street to a quaint home cuddled up on the river in Wasaga Beach.  Massive snowball hydrangeas greeted me and a smiling face, Artist, Patricia Schwimmer, famous Canadian and the beach's best kept secret. A gem. An art treasure; tucked inside a lovely home filled with fresh vignettes and original art.  Airy and open to the decks leaning over a lush fern hill. Baskets filled with beach flip flops scattered about at each doorway - Ducks floating by at the waterfront. Green tea, art studio and shells.  Wish you could have joined Patricia and I, but alas...this is not possible (Yet....she may be hosting a "Sunrise to Sunset Art Retreat Day" or a "Wine and Paint" evening soon - in her home! - stay tuned). I had the pleasure of interviewing and photographing Patricia today - at her home and Petals in Thyme. She heads to NY tomorrow for her art exhibit (of abstracts!) opening - details below.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Patricia Schwimmer: 

UPDATE:  Dec. 2013 - Patricia now has an online shop! SHOP here.

Tell us about the day you realized you wanted to be an artist.

Ever since I was a child I have been intoxicated by the act of applying paint to paper; yet at the same time, I was painting within a narrow margin of freedom, always with an end product or a purpose for creating in mind. In 1991 an issue of “Yoga Journal” arrived at my door that would radically alter the direction of my life. It would become my defining moment. On the cover stood a woman holding paintbrushes in her hand with a sparkle and clarity in her eyes like I have never witnessed before. I quickly flipped to the article inside entitled “The Spirit of Creativity—Reclaiming the Joys of Self Expression.” I read the piece over and over again, and discovered that there was a studio in San Francisco called The Painting Experience where people went to claim this exhilarating freedom for themselves. I would later go on to study there for a period of three years, and it was this training that really opened a wide door for me creatively. My teachers were writing the book “Life, Paint & Passion” during that time, and I was honored to have several of my paintings published in their book.

What high school did you go to and were you into art?

I went to West Humber Collegiate in Etobicoke, and while the school did not offer an art program, I did go on to study graphic design at Humber College, right after graduating.

What mediums do you work with and do you feel that will change over time? What medium will come next for Patricia Schwimmer?

My basic medium is acrylic paint and mixed media….although lately I have been enjoying the work of some other artists I know who employ cold wax, so that seems like it could hold some potential for exploration at the very least.

Please explain your art to us.

I recently completed a series of work that has a retro feel with influences from the Pop Art Movement and the Mad Men advertising era. Common elements that appear in these paintings include classic cars, diners, confections and the glamorous women of the 1940’s and 50’s. As I mentioned earlier, I studied graphic design and have drawn from these roots as well; with many of my mixed media works incorporating images from vintage Vogue magazines and patterned paper reminiscent of this period.
There is a joyful sentiment to the work and the beach often takes centre stage. While this series has been the major focus of my creativity for the past eight years, I have reached a point in my work where I feel I have said all I wanted to say through realism and I am seeking a new way to express myself with paint. I want now to dive into the world of abstraction, become more loose and spontaneous, responding to the emerging work. I recently challenged myself to complete 30 Paintings in 30 Days. It has been quite a joy ride, and in the process of posting the results daily on Facebook, I have met artists from all over the globe. It was exhilarating to explore different techniques and I began to develop a better understanding of abstraction. I think I’m going to “hang out” in this realm for awhile and see where it takes me.

Why Wasaga Beach?

Growing up in a suburb of Toronto, my parents would always pack up the car on weekends and head to the beach, so I’ve been coming up here since I was little. Georgian Bay is in my blood, and I know my personal formula for happiness includes living near or on the water.

Can you describe your studio and what a typical day is like there?

I wish I could, but there is no typical. I paint any time of the day or night, and whenever the spirit moves me.

Are you ‘social’? Where can we find you online? 

I have my own website at I am represented by the image stock house Super Stock, and through them, my work has been published in faraway places like Australia, England, France, Greece, Korea, Argentina, Portugal and S. Africa. My imaginative series is on as well as I am on facebook and I am a studio artist with Xanadu Art Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. The link there is

What jobs/careers have you had in the past?

I have been everything from the business manager for a radio station to a stress-reduction counselor for clients with seizure disorder. After completing my training at The Painting Experience, I went on to attain a Masters Degree in Transpersonal Psychology (which is a combined discipline of eastern philosophy and western psychology.) I facilitated workshops in painting for self-exploration and personal growth for quite a few years, and I have even had a very brief stint as a matchmaker, which wasn’t as fun or exotic as I thought it would be.

What advice would you give to parents who have a child with a passion for art?

In teaching “Painting from Within” classes to adult women, I learned that there was a lot of damage control to be done with respect to people’s beliefs about their ability to create. Many of these beliefs are developed as early as grade school in the negative messages we receive from teachers or parents with the best intentions. I feel it is important to provide the right environment, where children are given the structure and permission to paint without judgment or comparison. Cultivating an environment of free play, beyond right and wrong will build a child’s creative confidence. They will develop a sense of trust in their creative abilities, and grow in their originality and power of invention as a natural outcome. I’d even go so far as to say that flattery or praise can be just as destructive to creativity as criticism. True support comes from respecting the child’s desire to create simply for the pure joy of self expression, not for the result. That isn’t an easy task in a culture dominated by achievement.

What advice would you give anyone who wants a career in art?

I’m not so sure I’m the right person to be answering this question, but I do have some thoughts on what it means to live the creative life. Be prepared to spend a lot of years developing your craft. You don’t become a seasoned artist overnight. As obvious as that may sound, you might not get this at first. It’s a long journey that you never actually arrive at. Get comfortable with working in isolation and without immediate feedback from others or the marketplace. You must be comfortable with being alone and enjoy your own company. You will be lucky if you find contentment with quietude. Give yourself a wide arc of time for experimentation, without the need to create a finished product. The creative life has far different goals than the shallow ambitions imagined by the ego alone. If your ego requires constant praise it could be a tough go for you. Get comfortable with entering the void…this is a basic requirement. There will be periods in your life when you will experience creative blocks. Learn to trust that you will always break through with persistence and don’t give up. The most fundamental cause of artist’s block is connected to the inability to simply let go of premeditation. Oh, and don’t allow your inner critic to derail you. We all have a little voice inside our heads that wants to order us around. Don’t take it too seriously. Lastly, there are a lot of different ways to develop a creative life.

Coffee or Tea.
I have one cup of coffee first thing in the morning…then tea for the rest of the day. I love a cup of Tazo Zen green tea.

Do you have an altar in your studio?

Do you remember that book entitled “Little Altars Everywhere” by Rebecca Wells? Well, that’s my home and studio. I love to create vignettes of beauty and meaning all around the house as soft resting places of peace for the eyes.

What makes you sad?
It is overwhelmingly sad to see the trouble we humans have gotten ourselves into—senseless wars, destruction of the environment, cruelty to animals, the disregard for humanity in our political leaders, the media’s focus of attention on meaningless garbage. We could be doing so much better with our financial resources and intelligence. The things that make me sad…also make me mad!

What makes you happy?
I think every artist knows that feeling of being so involved in your work that you lose track of yourself in time and space and you become transported. That makes me happy…. So do deep conversations with good friends, star-gazing on a summer’s night, walking along the beach, or hearing that you have made a difference in someone’s life. And who isn’t happy on a good hair day? Oh, and I also just love to laugh!

What do you wear while you work?
I have a small collection of clothes that I once wore around town before I got paint on them. I am happy in a cotton t-shirt and a pair of yoga pants. Heck, I even have paint on my pajamas and a bathing suit , so I’m good to go no matter what time of day or night and in all kinds of weather.

If you weren’t an Artist what would you be?
I am very interested in interior design, so I could definitely see myself doing something like that.

Name 10 people who you’d love to invite to your studio for a potluck and why?

Oh man, what a great question…..and of course my “should invite” list popped into my head first. You know—people like Oprah, Jesus and Gandhi; those who only require a first name they are so darn famous, but it’s my party and I’ll invite who I want to. (laughs) so I’ve chosen five men and five women.

1. Andy Warhol—he was an artistic genius, a leading figure in the Pop Art movement and a marketing wizard. I’m just fascinated by him, and wouldn’t mind a piece of his winning formula.
2. Wayne Thiebaud—oh the cakes! I’m so enamored with his paintings of everyday objects. He predates the work of the classic pop artists, but he tops my list!
3. Michael Moore—every good party needs a social activist and Michael is my man. I love how he shines a light on war, large corporations, assault weapons and the health care system.
4. Paul McCartney—my first crush, musical genius, animal rights activist and what a song writer!
5. Roger Sterling—he’s a fictional character on the TV series MadMen. I believe he’d keep the party lively and fun and make sure my glass was always full. Every party needs a bad boy.

1. Frida Kahlo—she’s an iconic figure, feminist, revolutionary who channeled her suffering into her paintings. I had a bit of an obsession with Frida and painted the two of us together many years ago. I’d like to have a chance to talk to her.
2. SARK—anyone who writes a book with the title “Eat Mangoes Naked” or “The Bodacious Book of Succulence” belongs at my party. I have all of her books and she is so full of life.
3. Patricia Clarkson – she is both a glamorous and eccentric character actress & I like her style and sass.
4. Diana Krall—Canadian Jazz pianist and singer—gorgeous, talented, sultry, she’s the whole package. I’m a big fan!
5. Patti Friday—I’ve been following you on Facebook and I am so impressed with your philosophy, photography and paintings. Since our cyber-connection I’d love to learn more about you. 

Patricia's website here.

Websites Featuring Images By Patricia Schwimmer

"A Little Abstract" Patricia Schwimmer Opens August 16th at The Neighborhood Collective" in Buffalo, NY at 810 Elmwood Avenue. The show will be up until September 30th.

In Wasaga Beach, please visit Petals in Thyme to purchase Patricia's original work and cards.

Thank you so very much Patricia!  You have a charmed life and I am so pleased you shared it with all of us!

Patti Friday, Photojourno, reporting from inside 'The Art Dept.' at the international 'Embassy of Ideas'.
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