Full Artwork Catalog
Hand Printed and Giclée artworks on either Archival Canvas or 100% Cotton-Rag Papers




Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden.



Center stage, the spotlight illuminates the strongest acrobat.
He stands steady as the others balance atop his powerful arms.


In this artwork, I tried to depict the loneliness that can come with
great suffering. It is a reminder of our obligations
to each other, to our neighbors, and our communities
to be awake to their torments.


When I paint clowns, I think of them as angelic visitors.
Dressed in ornate and colorful clothes, containing every color in the rainbow, they heal us with laughter, as we are delighted by their foolish acts.
Through their performances, we are led to transformation, to treat all with respect, and to serve in our community.


Amazing Dog Trio

The Sacred comes through ordinary life. The villagers are doing their evening work, which has no grandeur nor representation of power over others: a child calls his father in from work, friends meet at a doorway, a young man cares for an elderly parent, a wood cutter delivers his day's work, and a woman prepares an evening meal. Mary as a young woman sweeping her stoop is the first to be blessed by the angels. Angels continue to visit all of us in our everyday lives, to ask us to allow God to be in our lives and to honor God's presence in the creation around us.


Every person is a universe.
We all have great capacity to continue growing and developing
during our short time here on earth. Every step, and rung of the ladder,
is the dreamer’s gradual ascent from each of his life experiences and lessons.
As he climbs the ladder, the dreamer is
supported, encouraged and guided by angels.


BACH CANTATA comes from hearing choral music
in Paris, London, Germany, and in many places in the United States
and in Mexico. I was inspired to capture the beauty of performance.
I wanted to share this vision, hoping that somehow I could convey
these moments of song as image.


Circus acts of skill fascinate me. In BALANCING ACT,
two people on a bicycle, support each other.
We watch with the spectators, and are thrilled by their confidence,
daring, and grace. They have worked hard to practice their craft,
their discipline.


In BRAHMS PIANO QUINTET, I portray friends and family,
gathered together at home to play music. This scene comes from
my own experience of hearing and playing in more intimate settings.


Bridges are important as symbols. A bridge reaches across a distance,
as it overcomes an obstacle, and forms a passage. THE BRIDGE
spans the gap between here and there, and is used equally by all.


I developed this dramatic scene from a small sketch of an artwork
I had seen. While I kept the themes that I remembered, and which
inspired me, the image became more personal. There is a contemplative
aspect to each of the characters as they try to understand this great tragedy.

The Burial

Since I first heard the stories of Saint Francis's life, I felt inspired.
In his Canticle of the Sun, Francis sings of the wonders of creation and
of our connection to it. I offer this collection of images with the hope
that it may help to restore our much-needed sense that the world we live
in is sacred.

Over the past few years, I have reimagined each verse of the Canticle,
with new embellishments and brighter colors, redrawing and expanding on
earlier paintings. Each print measures 6" x 15 ¾" surrounded by 2" paper
borders. These giclée prints are available individually, or as a
portfolio, with each of the eight prints in a display sleeve, collected
in an archival box.


The Full Portfolio of 8 Prints:


Select 1 Print:
Canticle, individual prints

CIRCUS GALLOP captures the pageantry of the grand circus march,
where all the performers gallop in on their beautiful horses. The performers,
garbed in full regalia and carrying colorful festive banners, excite and prepare
the crowd for the show.


One can see the faces in the audience, with their eyes watching in
wonder and anticipation as five elaborately decorated stallions move and
heed the commands and gestures of their trainer. The excitement builds, and
the crowd thunderously applauds, as the steeds rise on their hind legs in unison.


Spectators line the streets. They lean over railings and look over shoulders,
while families rush to their windows, all trying to catch a glimpse of
the wonderful surprises of the great circus parade.


After a visit to New York City, I made a series of paintings and drawings on
large cities. I wanted to show the complexity of a city, with windows
framing people in different buildings, and showing lots of activity.


A conductor pulls all the individual instruments together bringing harmony,
cohesion, and refinement to create music. He feels the emotions
of the music, and pushes individuals beyond their limitations.


The fanciful clown stands behind the beautiful curtain,
on the other side are the circus’ dazzling lights and performers.
He contradicts the fears and destructive insecurities that we
carry within ourselves. The CRIMSON CLOWN is there for us
when things get shaky.


A bright, turbulent sky shines down on the condemned men.
The background and steps are saturated in dark purples and reds.
Two angels stand by Jesus.
And, a worn staircase and grasses lead to a weeping figure.


CRUCIFIXION III began as a sketch I made in 1978.
In the Fall of 2011, Emory University approached me to create
Lenten images, and I revisited the original sketch. Variations of this image
appeared in a series of posters I created in support of Proposition 34,
which called for the end of the death penalty in California.

Currently unavailable; please contact the Studio for pricing/availability

Daniel is sentenced to a terrifying death,
yet he stands quietly in the midst of the wild lions
This ancient story still inspires us with its hopeful message.
It connects us to the men and women who confront and oppose the
powers in our world that keep people oppressed.


David goes forward barefoot, alone, and without armor.
The army is powerless and afraid of the strong Goliath. He faces the
supreme death machine, the technological cutting edge of armor, weaponry
and conquest of the time. He speaks to this powerful giant,
and knocks him down with his slingshot. I believe this story
continues today in the lives of people who speak out
against those who would conquer.


THE DEPOSITION is based on a sketch I did of
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's The Entombment of Christ,
which I developed into a gestural painting. I slowly added colors
and rough suggested shapes to indicate movement and lamentation.


With its drama, marvelous music, and complex characters,
Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni, amazes us and moves our imagination.
My picture is a collage of scenes, including the Commendatore’s statue,
whose spirit will seal Don Giovanni’s fate.


A universal portrayal of humanity that easily crosses cultures, races, and languages to speak to all people of the inestimable value of time and of all human life.



The initial drawing for this piece was based on the doors of Saint Sabina in Rome.
I was excited by how the eye of the viewer is directed within the composition.
There are lines of motion and countering diagonals, indicated from the
outstretched arms of Elisha to the chariot moving the eye upwards.


I wanted to convey my feelings from being in marches for peace and justice. This scene has been repeated countless times in the lives of heroic and selfless leaders who have fought for love, peace, and social justice.

EPIPHANY depicts the journey of the three Magi
as they travel up a serpentine trail. They look up in search of
their beautiful guiding star as angels surround and point to it.

Sold out; please contact the studio if you would like to be contacted when a print from this edition becomes available.

FAMILY PICNIC captures the essence of family, our knowledge of
where we come from, and our connection to our past. It is the universal
model of sharing food, laughter, and kindness with those we love.
The artwork was based on a small black and white family photo which
I recreated in bright and vivid colors.


Over my life as an artist, I have created variations of this gospel.
The story helps me to accept struggles and to appreciate the casting
of my own net into the waves, and the surprise of experiencing
the fruit and abundance that are there. We are reminded,
too, of the inexhaustible resources within each of us.


FISHERMEN - Let Down Your Nets

I envision the biblical story of the Holy Family in reference to current events,
photos, and stories of people who must leave their homes.
Whether fleeing wars or natural disasters, they are all refugees in
makeshift towns who have to move to safer places in order to survive.
I wanted to capture the urgent plight of a poor family protecting their
newborn child from imminent danger, while fleeing to an unknown country.


The trapeze performers show no fear and take daring leaps
trusting that they will succeed, and their partners will catch them.
As we watch, we feel exhilarated to see them transcend their fear.


FRANCIS AND THE BIRDS depicts Saint Francis' feeding and
preaching to brightly colored and patterned birds. The large and small
all peacefully gather together and accept Francis' gift of food.
We pause from our own lives to give to others.


Francis sits and listens to the wolf’s own story of fear in the
face of the villagers’ cruelty…. I see Francis as a minstrel
singing to the wolf. Nature understands the song of Francis, which echoes
the stories and songs of all people.


FRANCIS LISTENS TO THE FISH depicts Saint Francis kneeling down and bowing to Mother Earth as a multitude of brightly patterned and colored fish come to him. Nature greets Francis as family, and Francis connects with the healing power of our planet. Francis knows that we are part of the planet. The earth's cries are our cries, and we must care for our wounded mother.  

Francis looks out to the distance in wonder, through dense foliage and over green hills to faraway towns. He welcomes the morning with his brothers and sisters, the colorful animals of the forest, and contemplates our place in creation. Bordering the image are 24 scenes depicting a visual biography of his life. The scenes show Francis caring for nature and all creation, as well as helping, and empowering people on their journeys through life.  


The gospel reading of The Samaritan Woman at the Well stands out to me because, not only is Jesus accepting of the Samaritan woman, at a time when the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans, but also because the symbolism of water is very powerful. Water is necessary for life. It quenches our thirst and refreshes us. It is the first thing we offer to invited guests. It cleans that which is dirty. And, it is used to grow plants and make the earth fruitful.

Gift Triptych, full

What has stood out to me from the gospel of The Man Born Blind is the idea of acceptance. The blind man is shunned by others, as if his inborn handicap was caused by a fault he and/or his family had committed. Jesus gives sight to the blind man, so that he may see life for the first time. He truly gives insight to those around him. Before, the people did not relate to the blind man and saw him as lesser than themselves, but they were taught that he was their equal.

Gift Triptych, full

GIFT OF LIFE is based on the Raising of Lazarus from the Tomb. The story of Lazarus is of resurrection and coming to life. We need to help others come out of the tombs of greed and hatred. While only God can give life, humans are brought back to life when they can find a way to take away the stone of the tombs that lock them in. We need to come out of the tombs of our boundaries and limitations, which allow much harm to our society and planet.

Gift Triptych, full

I was very interested in the tradition and style of
Biblia Pauperum (Paupers' Bible) from the Middle-Ages.
The idea of people who could not read, but knew stories from images,
appealed to me. I used very early iconic imagery to depict
the passage of day to night to day within the tops of the
three main panels.


In THE GOOSE WITH THE GOLDEN EGG, an elegant Pierrot
styled clown joyously shows all of us a wonder: an egg of pure gold
laid from an ordinary, mundane goose. He calls us, his audience, to
appreciate this mystery, this miracle, and to go forth and share
our inner gold with others.


I feel this paschal season ritual transcends religious observances,
and gives us a beautiful guide for our lives. We are called to treat each
other with respect, and to serve in our community to our utmost.


Reflecting on my artistic beginnings, I had no goal to eventually paint,
or do artwork for life. Storytelling was what I loved, and had the
most fun with. THE INVENTOR is my definition of the artist.
The motto in the closing panel is from my mentor, Sister Corita Kent.


I wanted to give my depiction of dreams and imagination a visual form.
My image has the spiritual theme of the fool, or jester. It reflects
on the scriptural passage: God has chosen what the world holds
foolish so as to embarrass the wise.


The STORY OF JOSEPH tells the universal tale of Joseph.
A man who matures and forgives. It is a lesson to use
our talents in times of difficulty, and a teaching of forgiveness.


The moon shines through an ominous sky illuminating the betrayal.
The figures embrace, understanding what is happening,
and the gravity of what is to come.

A Graphic Biography of the important Civil Rights attorney
William Kunstler. He represented the iconic defendents
such as the Catonsville Nine, the Wounded Knee protesters,
Black Panthers, and the Attica prison rebellion.

William Kunstler

I am inspired by the community that grows from sharing food. I see, in the
Last Supper, a scene in which the sacred embraces the ordinary. Our
daily bread becomes holy when it is shared. The fruit of our labor becomes
the fruit of the Spirit, when it is shared.


With great panache and humor, standing in a cage surrounded by wild lions,
our clown skillfully guides the beasts, and watches as they jump through
his hoop. He is calm, like Daniel in the lion's den, and this amazing feat
excites the audience.


LOAVES AND FISHES emphasizes and reminds us of the basic needs
of all humanity. We all share the need for food and for providing for our
families and communities. If we take the cosmic view, that there currently
exists enough of what we need to sustain the world; we urgently need to
consider sharing the resources that have been entrusted to us.


I wanted to portray Mary as a young woman close to the earth.
MADONNA OF THE HARVEST expresses the goodness
and beauty of Mother Earth; it celebrates a humankind that cares
for the Earth, and is able to share the world's bounty.


THE MAGIC FLUTE was inspired by memories of my mother playing
Saturday morning broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera on our radio.
We would hear the music while we hung the wash on clotheslines
or did yardwork.


The idea behind MANY CROSSES came to me during California’s 2012 Election.
While I read over Proposition 34, I began to think of crucifixion as being a common
form of the death penalty in Jesus’ time. It was used as a public display of
power and authority, and oppressed the people.


MORNING IN THE CITY tells the story of our everyday experiences.
Showing the complexity and bustle of our urban city lives within the
common occurrences we go through each morning.


THE MORNING SUITE is the last artwork I completed in England,
and contains 10 works done in 4 different printing techniques. Each
image depicts ordinary people preparing for their day. The suite was inspired
by the seminal 1929 Russian film, “The Man with the Movie Camera,”
by Dziga Vertov.

MORNING SUITE, individual prints
Print title

I wanted to capture the people that are bringing gifts.
They are the poor people in the region
all bringing their meager offerings to share with the homeless holy family:
firewood, eggs, bread, flour, a cow with milk,
water, and fruit;
even a child has come to serenade them.
--John August Swanson



During my four years in England, 1976-1980, I found the popularity
of newsstands an enjoyable facet of daily life. They were everywhere.
To pass the time on their daily commtes and journies, people had access
to news and entertainment from all over Europe. Buying periodicals
was a daily ritual, that unified all travelers.


I had wanted to create a picture of an orchestra for a long time. As a child,
I wanted to be a musician. Some of my happiest moments were when I played
in a community youth orchestra. The details on the 100 unique and different
musicians' faces and instruments, were developed after observing
collections of Islamic and Medieval miniatures.


The masked Commedia dell'arte players travel from town to town
with their own personal conflicts and dramas, but,
onstage,they become the characters of the performance.
For the townspeople, it is their chance to turn from
their everyday lives, and to be transported into
an engaging world of action, comedy, and drama.


With his outstretched arms, Papageno appears poised like a tightrope walker
…or perhaps a person inspired by the choreographed flight of birds -
ready to make his own flight. He manifests a playfulness and innocence.
Papageno decides to release all his captive friends and opens the golden cages.


I see the Spirit of God, re- energizing all people and bringing us together
to work for peace, to heal the Earth, and to honor the diversity of our life's journey.


The musicians are giving the gift of their talent to those around them to
change our world into something beautiful through the music they make together
. In its purest form, a gift, is something we do not receive by our own efforts,
and we cannot acquire through an act of our own will. It is given to us
through acts of kindness by others.


POWER TO THE PEOPLE is based on John August Swanson’s early works,
drawings and paintings done from 1969 to 1974. The work, adapted from
an earlier hand-printed serigraph, connects with his own experiences in
looking for work. It parallels his family life, as his mother, an immigrant from
Mexico, was a garment worker who had joined the International Ladies’
Garment Workers’ Union in the early 1930s, and Mr. Swanson himself is
also active in marches for social justice.


As Mary and Joseph stand on the inner steps of the temple with the baby
Jesus, two older people, Anna and Simeon, come to greet and hold the child.
Their wisdom and patience, draws them to the child. Mary and Joseph stand
amazed at the two elders as they take the baby in their arms. This is a
beautiful story of the encounter between the older generation, and the
new life of this babe.


For me, The Prodigal Son is the story of my own father, who left his family
in Sweden to immigrate to the USA, while his older brother stayed to
manage the family farm and business. He was never able to return.


On a beautiful cool morning, as the sun rises, the sky lightens, and rays of sunlight cause the ripened fruit to glow, the farmers begin to work. The fruit is a gift of their labor. Some tend to the plants and others the soil. They gather the blessings of an abundant harvest. They work together to support their families. With gratitude, they share their harvest with their community.

Our God has blessed the earth with a wonderful harvest! - Psalm 67:6  


Whenever I heard the verses from Psalm 85, I would visualize
the poetry of the words. They gave me a sense of hope about living.
The opportunity to hear and read these words each year refreshed my spirit.
Justice and Peace shall kiss,
Truth shall spring out of the earth.
Kindness and Truth shall meet, Justice shall look down from the heavens.

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People are walking holding their umbrellas in the rain through
the stormy streets of a large city. The scene captures the moment
the sun breaks through the clouds, and a rainbow is formed. Many look
out of their windows and from the street to marvel at this wonderful sending
out of colors from the sky onto the city and its residents.


The river supplies the water of life to all of us as
it winds along its course. Each person shares in
the river's blessing. THE RIVER reminds me of our need
to keep growing in understanding and compassion
for all people, and to see our common source.

THE STORY OF RUTH is a journey, a testimony to move forward boldly,
that we can take our part in the larger picture of God's plan. We see this
same story played out today, with refugees and immigrants, who leave
their homes, villages, and cultures to find a way to survive and continue life.


He is a reflection of the beauty of the Creator and of the brilliance of the positive.
A symbol of divine presence, justice, generosity, and compassion. This
archangel helps us to free ourselves from our demons of despair, confusion,
poverty, exploitation and war.


The shepherds were the poorest of workers. An angel tells them to go to a small shed in the fields. There, they find a new born baby and his homeless, refugee parents in the winter night.

As I enjoy clowns, I am moved by feelings of their uniqueness,
their ability to touch our lives, and their double-sided nature. They are
hilarious, mischievous, joyful and full of surprises – turning around the expected
order of things. Connecting us to our inner child, they appear as messengers
who bring us hope, grace, healing and meaning.


"We were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. We cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this." -- Pope Francis


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The story of Lazarus challenges us to listen for that voice that breaks
into the cruel silence of this world. It says to all creation, "Come alive again!"
saying, "It's not too late. Come out. And leave the tomb behind."


One can see the history of a composer in an opera, the struggle to create,
and then the struggle to bring their creation to the public's attention.
When complete, various performers interpret the composition. Each
performance is unique and keeps adding to the work, leaving us,
the collective audience, with personal memories and inspiration.


TIME TO HEAL is a reflection on healing. The image shows the
different types of healing we can bring to others. As we view a visitor
holding a patient’s hand, a woman adjusting a pillow, and musicians
playing music, the artwork emphasizes the need for people to actively
participate in the healing process.


The theme of this artwork encourages us to show true humility of spirit,
and love for all. We are called to treat all with respect, and to serve our
community in different capacities. True leaders are those who are called to serve.


The WEDDING FEAST celebrates life. The newlyweds want all of us to share
in their joy. They bring together their community. We are all invited to their
feast. Guests celebrate the couple, and the promise of new life in the
fruitfulness of love. They eat, drink, and dance with gusto,
toasting "To Life."


Copyright © 2022 John August Swanson Trust