Horse Artist Interview – Kelli Swan

The Eyes Have ItName
Kelli Swan

Website & laces you can find my work online
Websites: and
Cafepress: Kelli Swan
Follow Kelli on twitter: @kelliswan

Where I am
Canton, Ohio

Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born Ohio and have lived most of my life here, expect for a couple of wonderful years living in Arizona.

Interested in creating and particularly drawing from a very young age, I was involved in whatever art programs were available to me

This included everything from Girl Scout craft projects to extra-curricular drawing/painting classes.

Going for Time

When did you first start drawing horses?
I have been drawings horses for as long as I can remember! I think my earliest recollection of a “horse on paper” was seeing the sketches my older sister had done. The drawings absolutely fascinated me, and I soon began trying to emulate her.

I later had a friend in school who also had a gift for drawing and painting horses. My friend’s work was so spectacular, that I often felt cheated somehow – to be without such a talent. This was a good thing in the long run, as it inspired me to find my own hidden talents.

What is your favorite breed?
While I love the artistic flair of the flashy breeds such as the Friesian, Gypsy Vanner and Arabian horses, I hold a special fondness in my heart for the Morgan horse.

My last horse was a Morgan, and he taught me much about life. A complex soul who was not born with the greatest of conformation by “our” standards, he produced more from his heart in terms of performance than many physically gifted animals. He taught me that a life lived through the heart surpasses all expectations.

Contemplating Reality

What is your favorite animal to draw?
Initially my favorite animal to draw was the horse – hands down! I later developed a passion for dogs, especially Dobermans.

I now love drawing both animals equally. Though it is also fun to branch out. In the past I’ve been asked to do portraits of everything from cats, to birds to snakes.

Who are your main influences?
My primary artistic influences are pencil artist Mike Sibley (from the UK) and Kathy Treleani (from PA). The work of both of these artists has inspired me greatly. I once saw Mike Sibley’s work at a dog show and was simply dumbstruck at what I saw. I also had the opportunity to meet Kathy Treleani and see her work at a local art festival. She is extraordinarily gifted and quite an inspiration.

Ultimate Challenge

Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
That would be: horses, horses, and more horses! Honestly.

In my high school and college years I think my teachers and professors were concerned about me. They even went so far as to warn me that “I can’t just draw horses forever.” (Oh really?)

Do you have any secret rituals you do to help you get in the zone for your art?
I would say that I have several “rituals” that help me prepare for time at the drawing table. The first one is more of a practical matter. I try to clear any deadline or time-sensitive work from my plate before starting to create. That allows me to relax a bit at the drawing table.

I also try to set aside some meditation time before beginning as that opens the creative space considerably. Then I turn on a new age music CD, or listen to a recording on an inspirational topic such as the power of intention.


Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
I would say nature in general, and most of all Sedona, Arizona as a specific. I’ve never seen a place so beautiful in my life as Arizona. Just thinking about the Red Rocks of Sedona and the hiking and riding trails I enjoyed there brings me great inspiration to create. And if I were to be really specific, I would say the Courthouse Loop Trail which circles Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte in Sedona.

What effect do you think the Internet will have on art in general?
I think we will find that, as with most other things, there will be the “good” and the “bad” impacts on art. The bad would involve increasing copyright violations and other sorts of reproduction fraud.

Though the good will far outweigh the bad I think. The good will be mostly about “access.” Talented artists who once didn’t stand a chance of being noticed or found now have that opportunity.

And people who didn’t have the time or desire to view and shop for art at traditional retail locations now can do so from the comfort of home. I think the internet also inspires artists to be even more creative – it certainly has had that effect on me! The easier it is to share creations, the more one wants to create.

The Favorite

Has it had an effect on yours?
The internet has played a wonderful role in my professional career. Early on I traveled with my work to various art shows and festivals. For many years that was my primary method for selling my work.

While I enjoyed those times immensely, I ultimately tired of the travel and work doing the shows. About that time, “getting a website” seemed like the most appropriate next step.

The internet has seen quite an evolution, and it seems to be speeding up all the time. Over the years I have progressed from starting with a small website, to learning how to create better sites, to building sites for others.

I have also been blessed to learn about various e-marketing approaches and search engine optimization. Recently I became involved in social networking venues, which is how The Equinist and I connected.

Which one is your personal favorite piece & would you ever sell it?
My personal favorite drawing is a piece that I titled “Clean Round.” It is a jumper theme drawing, and I feel that the layout/design of the image(s) works as well as the final rendering. I had the original piece on display at the Third Annual Arab Horse Expo in Dubai in 1999 where it sold to a buyer from Germany.

All of my work is for sale as I seldom get emotionally attached to it. For me, the joy is in the process of creation.

If I start collecting to many pieces my life starts to feel stagnant and the inspiration to create slows as well

I’d rather donate work to a good cause than gather too much in storage!

Clean Round

What else are you passionate about?
My deepest passion is learning about and being part in the awakening of human consciousness. I adore topics such as quantum physics, the law of attraction, the power of intention and the “new” spirituality. (Though it’s not really new.)

My downtime and my creative time are usually filled with readings and recordings by my favorite authors/teachers: Eckhart Tolle, Abraham-Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and many others.

Working on anything new?
I am currently working on a Kentucky Derby theme piece for a corporate client. Time is getting tight on that one too. Its back to the drawing table for me!

More to Come

Thanks to Kelli for answering the interview and sharing her art. Be sure to check out her art website for information about her latest pieces.

Also stay tuned for more horse artist interviews & horse photographer interviews to come.

Are you a horse artist or do you know an equine artist you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.

14 Comments on “Horse Artist Interview – Kelli Swan

  1. Daisy

    wow your drawing are amazing i came across them researching for my GCSE’s and am completly inspired they are amazing!

  2. Dreaming of Friesians

    Your art is amazing to say the least! I love your Contemplating Reality piece…the others are fab too!

  3. Rose

    Hi! wow how old are you agian?? you are amazing at drawing horses, I can draw them too, but I not that good at all!
    SUPER! I wanna be just as good as you at drawing them!!!!

  4. Maddie

    I absolutely LOVE your work- it is absolutely awesome! I would buy some if I had the money… Great job and keep at it! :)

  5. Olivia

    Hi, I’m Olivia and I’m doing a project on you for my school, I find your drawings very fascinating! I love the drawings of the dogs they’re the best I reckon. Ok I better go now bye!

  6. sally

    wow these drawings are amazing and I thought I could draw one day I want to draw as good as you because horses are beautiful and I love to draw them!

  7. Jodi Cook

    your work is amazing.. do you sell origonal or numbered prints? if so please show me where to go to find them. Thanks for your time

Comments are closed.