Ray Swanson says, “When I reflect on the 43 years of my art career, it startles me to realize how quickly it has gone. During those years, I have experienced great pleasure and fulfillment in being able to do what I wanted with a paintbrush and make a living at it.
“When gleaning subject matter, I look for certain key elements. First and foremost, I respond to the overall composition, whether a scene is a pure landscape or portrait of groups of people. Architectural shapes and designs as well as patterns of color and values are also key elements. I search for dramatic light effects, particularly how light plays on a surface. More often than not, there are people in my paintings, and I endeavor to express their lives through their daily activities, labor, and crafts.
Swanson has received numerous medals and honors at major art exhibitions, including the National Academy of Western Art, American Watercolor Society, Royal Western Watercolor Exhibit, Artists of America Show, Franklin Mint Gallery of Art, the George Phippen Show, and Gold and Silver Medals at the Cowboy Artists of America Show. The 1994 Catlin Peace Pipe Award was bestowed on Swanson for art that demonstrates the unusual sensitivity and perpetuates the viability of the Native American culture. In 2000 an honor was bestowed upon Ray when he was chosen to represent Arizona at the Library of Congress Bicentennial in Washington, D.C. He was included in the Local Legacy Program that documents the nation's rich cultural heritage to share with future generations of Americans.
Swanson believes along with his God-given artistic talent comes the responsibility to honor the diversity of mankind, preserving the traditions and culture that he paints. He sees the beauty in the life of each person, and his greatest satisfaction as an artist comes from sharing that beauty with others. “My subjects are real people found in real places. They are beautiful in their humanity and I think it's that beauty people respond to. I paint each person as he or she is, not as I wish them to be,” Swanson says.