Ray Swanson

(1937 – 2004)

Artist Statement


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.”  – Ray Swanson, Cowboy Artists of America


Awards and Honors

Member of Cowboy Artists of America (CAA) 1986
President of CAA in 1994 and 2004
Signature Member of the American Watercolor Society
Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Ray was chosen to represent Arizona in the Local Legacy Program in 2000
Member of the Continental Confederation of Adopted Indians; Ray was given a Lakota name that means “He Paints Like Magic”
Master Artist of Denver’s Artists of America Show 1985 – 1995
Honorary Signature Member of Oil Painters of America
Best Overall Exhibit at Cowboy Artists of America Show in 1994
One of Five Top Arizona Artists, Scottsdale Life Magazine in 2003
Catlin Peace Pipe Award for promoting Native Americans in 1994
Member of Northwest Rendezvous of Art 1981 – 1991
President of Northwest Rendezvous in 1985
Art Council Member, Western Heritage Show, Houston, TX 1981 – 1984
Judge: Charles Russell Show in 1989
Judge: Phippen Memorial Art Show in 1989
Judge: Arizona State Fair Art Exhibit in 1981
Judge: All California Art Show in 1970
Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Western Artist in 1982
Arizona Artist of the Year by Arizona State Legislature and Tucson Festival in 1979

Ten Gold Medals

Cowboy Artists of America
National Academy of Western Art
Phippen Memorial Art Show
Franklin Mint Gallery of Western Art

Five Silver Medals

Cowboy Artists of America
Royal Western Watercolor Competition
Phippen Memorial Art Show


American Watercolor Society in 1991 – Bronze Medal
Two Merit Awards:
Northwest Rendezvous of Art
Swan Graphics Award in 1983
Shorty Shope Award in 1983
Purchase Prize Awards
National Awards
Merit Awards
First Prizes

Available Work by Ray Swanson

(1937 -2004)

16 x 12 inches
oil, $6000...