Swan has turned his passion for painting and fishing into a lifestyle that takes him all over the world. Growing up in Maine, he was introduced to fly fishing at an early age on the Rangeley Lakes where his grandparents owned a cabin. When he would visit he would watch his grandmother paint and soon began to follow in her footsteps. Painting became a natural outlet for John to capture the natural beauty of his surroundings and express the tranquility he experiences when fishing. “Through fly fishing I developed a deep appreciation for nature and the outdoors, and as my interest in painting evolved, the profoundly beautiful landscapes of Rangeley became an integral part of my work.”
John has traveled all over the world to fish and paint his adventures. “I paint wherever I can fish,” he admits. His favorite place to visit is the Bahamas where he spends his winters painting and bonefishing on the flats. One of America’s prominent sporting and wildlife artists, Swan is equally adept in watercolor and oils. When in the north, he tends to use more oil paints, but when he’s in the Bahamas, he works strictly in watercolor. The translucency perfectly captures the colors of the shallow water and sun drenched islands. What John loves most about the Bahamas is the people, “Bahamians are gentle, easy going people who appreciate the slower pace of life on the islands.” During his visits, he takes time away from fishing to paint the locals going about their daily lives. While he often includes figures in his fishing scenes, these are the only figurative portraits he is compelled to paint.
Swan studied art at the University of New Hampshire. About twenty years ago, he came into recognition as a sporting artist when one of his paintings was featured on the cover of Gray’s Sporting Journal. His work has been included in sporting publications such as Wildlife Art and Esquire Sportsman. He has also illustrated several books including Joseph Bates’ Atlantic Salmon Fishing and Thomas McGuane’s Live Water. John has been the recipient of many awards including the Ducks Unlimited International Artist of the Year (1987) and the Atlantic Salmon Federation Artist of the Year three times.
When he isn’t traveling, John spends his time at his studio in the beautiful historic district of Stroudwater in Portland, Maine. Constructed in 1918 from various buildings, mostly over 200 years old, by the American Impressionist Walter Griffin, the studio remains much as it did then. With stunning picturesque views of the surrounding river and neighborhood, it remains a landmark in a beautiful historic setting, and a constant source of inspiration.