For several years there was a Glenn Swedlun painting of Keels Creek for sale by an art dealer in West Virginia. I’d seen it on the Internet and it would pop up on eBay periodically. Several branches of my family have long had connections to the Keels Creek area, and my father particularly remembered idyllic childhood summers and weekends at the Wolfinbarger farm. It isn’t often I have the energy to covet something, but I coveted that painting.
After a short career as a professional baseball player, Glenn Swedlun turned to art for his livelihood. He had been taught painting by his father, landscape artist Fred Swedlun. They eventually had shop space on Spring Street in which to show their work.
I’ve been told the story that Glenn and Fred would ride buses out of Chicago looking for landscapes to paint. After a stop in Eureka Springs they decided that they’d found a lifetime’s worth of source material in the Ozarks.
In the 1960s, Wayne Mote wrote in the Oklahoman Magazine that Glenn Swedlun was completing a mind-boggling 125 canvases a year. It was hard work.
I’ve also been told that a favorite process of Glenn’s was to go out and tromp around in the hills until he found something that he wanted to paint. Then he would spend several hours looking the scene over, watching the light change, memorizing. He would return to his studio and paint the scene.
In 1974, the Eureka Springs Times-Echo quoted Glenn Swedlun as saying, “If a man lives to be 500 years old, he would learn something new about art every day. When you stop being a student who continually probes into the unknown, you stop growing as an artist. The older you get, the more you realize you’re still just scratching the surface.”
When my wife was a little girl, Glenn Swedlun bought his gas at O’Connor’s Texaco and he would always give her a quarter. Later, when she won an elementary school art contest, he heard about it and gave her copies of his notes on various aspects of painting and drawing. By all accounts, Glenn Swedlun was a good guy.