Passing on the Passion
Education has been Jan Swift’s game, as a student who got turned onto art by a history teacher, and as a teacher who organized art programs for a whole school district in addition to the classes she taught.
But it wasn’t until retirement 22 years ago that Jan delved into her own creative passion.
Not to be counted among the typical, Jan was not interested in art as a kid until 10th grade social studies when homework included making your own scrapbook and calendar of the Revolutionary War. Imagine! With that, creativity surged through her body and suddenly she was in love with art.
In high school, her talent earned her four years of art in just two years and a chance for a scholarship.
“This history teacher turned me on and because of her I got a scholarship and majored in art in college at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia,” she says. “When I got into Moore I loved my design classes so much. I was asked why I wasn’t in textile design but I really wanted to be a teacher.”
Jan started teaching in 1952 and became department chair of a junior/senior high school. Later, she created an art program for 11 elementary schools after officials beseeched her three times, she says. “I did it and loved it.”
During her 40-year career, Jan taught art from pre-first grade to college. During that time she dabbled in paint but with a husband, children and a job her passion was put on hold. “I worked in oils first but with two small children it was too much of a hassle. I started watercolors and I loved it because I could stop and start.”
And she hasn’t stopped since. Now at 82, her paintings illustrate magazines and appear in shows and private collections. Jan chooses her subjects as the phase strikes: roosters, fish, lots of flowers and architecture. She also makes note cards of her paintings.
“I just love it. I love the freedom of watercolor. Lots of things come from just happening on paper – floating color and seeing what comes out of it. It’s a creative process that just makes me happy.”
Make someone happy with an artistic, unusual gift of a Jan Swift painting or note cards for sale at Gallery 23, a cooperative artists' showroom and store in Blairstown, NJ. www.gallery23.net
Jan also takes architectural and other commissions. Call Jan Swift directly: 908-362-8001
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published December 10, 2014