Event Painter Laura Swytak
Local Artist Makes a Splash in BALTIMORE Magazine
The current ish of Baltimore magazine (January 2008) profiles area artist Laura Swytak as "The Next Big" thing for her live event painting. I mention this because Laura is a regular at the library where I work, and it's good to see that, mixed in with all the "characters" that frequent my workplace, I have actually rubbed elbows with some sane, talented and interesting people.
Like many of the people fitting this demographic who come into my department at the library, California native Laura Swytak is a graduate of the Maryland Institute, College of Art. I never knew that before I started talking to her, but I noticed she always came in looking for interesting foreign films and, being a nosy film geek, I would ask who and what she liked. Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev was her favorite, but she also used to get a lot of Spanish films out and when I asked her why, she explained that she was trying to brush up on her Spanish in hopes of someday moving to Spain to paint. I should have known she was a painter long before that, because her fingers sometimes had paint on them. (Dummy me, I assumed her long, lean physique belied a background in dance or as an aerobics/yoga instructor.)
As a self-employed painter, Laura has her own blog (Live Event Painting) and website (www.lauraswytak.com) advertising her work as an "Event Painter." I had never heard this term before, but apparently it's a artsier alternative to just hiring a photographer or videographer to record a wedding or other major event. A live event painting is usually completed within the timeframe of the event and returned to the artist's studio for finishing touches.
Before the technological advances we take for granted today, painting was virtually the only way to record events as they happened. Today, it's a rare approach, enough of a novelty to bring it to the attention of Baltimore magazine. Here's what they had to say in their profile "Event Keepsake":
Once upon a time—before photographers and videographers—painters were hired to record events as they happened. That tradition is alive and well thanks to Laura Swytak, a 26-year-old MICA graduate. A native of L.A., Swytak is now the in-demand live event artist in the city (and across the U.S), painting everything from weddings to golf tournaments. She describes her style as a little bit Spanish (Diego Velázquez), a tad German (Adolf von Menzel) and a soupçon French (Edouard Manet). "I think there's something that you can get in a painting that you really can't get in a photograph or video," she says. "My paintings capture a duration of time. It's like a collage of all these different moments." She'll paint in almost any conditions—unless there are strobe lights. "I can't work with strobe lights," she laughs. "It's just impossible."
Laura was also profiled in MY DAY MAGAZINE. The capsule review from MY DAY MAGAZINE appears on her blog and describes her as follows:
"Classically trained painter Laura Swytak uses Old World oil painting techniques to capture colorful nuances of your event on canvas. Taking care to represent the bridal couple, the guests, and the venue, she paints on site, giving your guests an up-close and unforgettable perspective of art in progress. The final original masterpiece will grace your home for generations to come. Art collector or art enthusiast, you'll be charmed by her interpretation of your extraordinary day."
A sample live event painting by Laura Swytak
Laura strikes me as a very intense, passionate and driven artist, one who hungers for new experiences and challenges - and not just in the fine arts. I recall seeing her often dressed in running gear, explaining how she would get depressed if she didn't get her daily 5K run in; she claimed she did some of her best painting after a brisk jog got her endorphins revved up. And I had the privilege of seeing her work at the Central Library, where she was granted permission to do a "landscape" painting of our busy main hall. She was totally focused and "in the zone" (had she run that morning?), listening to her iPOD to drown out the sound of patrons passing through.
This is Laura working on a painting of the main hall at Enoch Pratt Free Library. I recall Laura commenting about all the strange people at the library who approached her while painting. Her favorite was a man who cajoled her for not "crossing her legs like a lady" when she was sitting down!
One thing's for sure, Laura keeps busy with painting. Her library visits have become increasingly rare, as her work often takes her out of state (on her customer's dime!) for commissioned live events. But it's always a pleasure to see her when she does stop by, and to catch up on what's she's been watching, reading or listening to.
Read "Event Keepsake" in Baltimore magazine
Read "Lasting Impression" in My Day magazine
Read "The Party Line" in Style magazine
Live Event Painter (Laura Swytak's blog)
Laura Swytak's Website (www.lauraswytak.com)