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Sarah Swanson

The Suffering Artist exists to promote all kids of arts and artists but it helps that owner Sarah Swanson is herself a committed and passionate artist.  

Sarah remembers a love of drawing very early on in life and drawing has remained her main artistic focus ever since.

Draftsmanship is the foundation of all other artistic skills and Sarah considers herself primarily a realist. She loves taking something she sees and rendering it in pencil. Going beyond a simple reproduction, though, she wants her art to provoke some kind of thought. Even if it only inspires the viewer to ask what is going on in the piece, that's enough. She tries to experiment with different styles and mediums: oils and acrylics, mixed media and collages as well. She loves the challenge of creating a piece that wouldn’t be instantly recognizable as a “Sarah Swanson.” 

Palimpsest 2
Me untitled
Salem in the Front Room
Tami untitled
Queen Taut

We all played with these as kids and I'm sure we all wondered if they actually worked. To me that's a reflection of communication all the time: is what we're saying actually reaching the other person? Are we actually hearing them?

Ah, Another Visitor

Do with this one what you want, there is the light from above, the car wreck, the shadowy images in different shades. The girl is so intent on her object she doesn't see any of it.


Howard Hughes always fascinates me, and this piece is all about him.

Shredding Piri Reis

I hate that we don't use maps anymore. GPS is clearly better, but I'm also one of those who thinks gadgets make us dumber. So here the man is laying exasperated in his pile of maps, which are now relics of a lost skill.

Palimpsest 1

Sometimes it's fun to draw adults doing childish things. And here she seems almost ashamed of doing it, doesn't she?

Passion for odd boats

The gentleman here loved experimenting with flotation and this was a tube with waterproof pants. His suit doesn't fit my idea of water sporting wear but that is what made the image appealing to me.

Vintage Switches and Stereo Views

Sometimes, surreal combinations are all you need to be satisfied. If you find a deeper meaning, let me know!

Through a glass, darkly
Some camels are more morose than oth

This is more about the visual than the meaning. Camels have interesting faces, and in this case there were several at one trough. Each with its own morose expression. We see them as all the same but I highly doubt that's accurate.

In Tandem

Honestly, this one is more about the background. I like putting stuff in drawings that make the viewer ask what is going on. Hopefully I achieved that here.

Sackful of specimens

The diver here is walking in the shallows of The Gulf of Mexico collecting rock specimens to be examined for the presence of oil. The polar bear is an artistic addition, something out of place and somewhat menacing. Some will see this as a statement on fossil fuels and climate change. I didn't intend that but, as they say, once art is made it's now in the hands of the viewer.

I took up the runes, shrieking

Exploring colored pencil as a medium turned out more fun than I thought.

Cosmic Secrets in the Frost

The aurora tower at Byrd Station, Antarctica, stands on stilts to keep its sensitive equipment above the snow drifts. The station was abandoned in 2005 after 48 years in operation. The TVs and squirrel were put here to be intentionally out of place, which always has artistic appeal to me.

torture, my boy

I drew this when waterboarding seemed like a hot topic. I even saw in the news that a father waterboarded his son just to see how it looked. Here my husband made for a compelling target for torture, and not a bad drawing, either.

Susan Butler, RN

I like 'confrontational' pieces, by that I mean a face staring right out at the viewer. And in this case I made it a larger than life image at 4'x6'.

barometer, thermometer, hygrometer...
Dr. Shoukat

This is another 'confrontational' piece. I added to the intensity by making this piece larger than life, too.

Flashjac, highly visible

The Flashjac was a vest that featured 4 flashing lights powered by 2 batteries. It was envisioned as a garment that could be worn at night by police officers, railway workers and airfield signalmen. It never took off as a practical product, that was to be the fate of the reflector vest instead. It interests me that the translation of ideas into practical, useful applications is always happening in our world. Some succeed and others don’t.

regular freeloaders, but the eels won't stand for it

Marie Spijker was able to call her fish to feeding time and they would come at the sound of her voice. That is a mystifying bond. And the bonds we form are an interesting subtext to this piece. These intimate connections—with each other or with other species as the case here—are a powerful force in our lives and on so many levels remain an enduring mystery to me.

monday, tuesday, demeday...3

There's something interesting about people seeming to completely ignore their apocalyptic surroundings. Only the dog notices here.

Close Call

After nearly being shot down over Vietnam, Colonel Tom Martin landed safely but shaken and took what would today be called a selfie. He wanted to capture his stress and relief. I rendered this in the 'digitized' form to try and give the impression of haze, confusion and stress.

Lights Along McMurdo

The image is of Main Street in McMurdo as it appeared in 1962. The research community, situated on Antarctica’s Ross Island, still remains operational today, teeming with as many as 1250 researchers and staff. I added the crate, raven and magnifying glass. I was really interested in making something out of place here, since humans themselves are out of place in that part of the world.

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