In December 2023 I created the FACES OF JOY art project. Pictured is Juna, one of the 14 free pet portraits I painted in pastels. My idea was to spread some joy in a troubled world. Action begins with the individual. So, I posted on my local Nextdoor.com that I'd paint free pet portraits for the first 12 people to contact me. I had my dozen plus two alternates in a day.
    As of May 1, 2024, I've completed 8 of the portraits, all of which are on this website in the Pet Portfolio.
    The portraits are all posted on Nextdoor.com with a short story about the pet written by the owner/parent. Joy many ways: my joy with the work, the owner's joy and the public's joy as it sees and reads about these wonderful pets. I hope these animal portraits make you smile. Dinah Swan

  • Looking Glass Collective exhibit 5/5/23--6/16/23

    Looking Glass Collective exhibit 5/5/23--6/16/23

    from Durango Herald May 12, 2023 DAC director, Brenda Macon

    What was your first experience in a gallery or museum? Were you with an adult who hissed at you to stand still and keep your hands in your pockets so you didn’t touch anything? Not surprising as it’s the most common adult reaction to the spontaneity and unbridled joy that children express in such an environment. Granted, wide-open art galleries full of priceless art is no place for anyone to run riot. However, it is a great place for children to engage in observing and appreciating beautiful work, and in my book, you can’t start them too early.
    "Last Friday at the Barbara Conrad Gallery opening for the exhibit Art Inspired By Nature," 14 established and well-heeled artists displayed their work and presented a beautifully curated show by Deena Carney and Ben Dukeminier, the dynamic duo who run the visual art and gallery department at the Durango Arts Center. Over 300 visitors came to the opening. The adults in the room were all pretty serious until they were a couple of glasses of wine in and they started to enjoy themselves. The people I noticed who were engaged from the start were the very small ones, of whom there were only about half a dozen. I love seeing children at gallery openings. They’re learning so much. They watch the adults, they watch the feet shuffle around them until the bodies part enough to see something magical on the wall. And they keenly observe things that might surprise you.
    My favorite thing to do when I meet a young person at a gallery opening is to make them feel welcome right away by humbly extending the offer of welcome and a free sticker. Then I ask them to take a careful look around the room and report back to me when they have decided on their favorite piece of art. And I ask that they tell me why it was their favorite.
    Who cares what kids think of art? Well let me tell you, kids make the best art, and so I believe they know more than adults do. Here’s my theory: Plato once said that when we are born, we are as close to the proverbial wall of truth that we will ever be. For every year we age, we step one step back from the wall to discover that the wall of truth extends infinitely in both directions, and simultaneously, we discover that we are only moving away from it with the gift of such knowledge. Ah, the blessing and the curse of perspective and age. So, too, is our aptitude for making beautiful work. Kid art is nearly perfect. Adults are simply striving to get back to the beginning.
    Out of all of the children who came to the DAC last Friday night, they selected one artist as their favorite and this is something worth celebrating. This is an artist who painted animals. "Dinah Swan’s" expertly executed painting of an opossum mama covered in adorable opossum babies would have won the children’s choice award, if we had one. Later they learn, through being told, that they might be wrong. But until then, they are in a beautiful place, so very close to the wall of truth. So if you need a critic, ask a kid.

  • Dinah Swan Exhibits 2023

    Dinah Swan Exhibits 2023

    The pastel art of Dinah Swan will be exhibited in Durango, Colorado as follows:
    Durango Public Library April 1--May 31, 2023
    Durango Arts Center May 5 --June 3, 2023 Artist in the Looking Glass Collective Exhibit
    Durango Recreation Center-East Gallery November 1-30, 2023



    November 2022 Dinah Swan will exhibit 20 pastel paintings at the Durango Recreation Center's East hall Gallery including the Coq de Bois shown here.
    May 2023 several of her best works will be included in the Looking Glass Collective's show at the Durango Arts Center

  • Two Awards in Ouray Exhibit July, 2022

    Two Awards in Ouray Exhibit July, 2022

    Dinah Swan received 2 awards: a 3rd place for Child in Market and an Honorable mention for her Coq de Bois in the 60ieth annual Alpine Holiday Artists' Exhibit in Ouray, Co.

  • from Durango Herald, June 5, 2021 "ALONG WITH A WORKOUT, REC CENTER OFFERES ART"

    from Durango Herald, June 5, 2021 "ALONG WITH A WORKOUT, REC CENTER OFFERES ART"

    Along with a workout, rec center offers art

    Dinah Swan’s pastels on display through June
    By Katie Chicklinski-Cahill, Herald Arts & Entertainment editor
    Saturday, Jun. 5, 2021 11:40

    Artist Dinah Swan is displaying her pastels at the Durango Community Recreation Center through the June.
    Generally, when one heads to Durango Community Recreation Center, it’s to get in a workout or a swim with the kiddos.
    But not so fast.
    On your way through the building, take a stroll to the east wing and check out the art that’s hanging up as part of the Community Art Display, which features exhibits of local artwork.

    According to the rec center’s website, artists of all mediums are invited to display their artwork in the hallway. Artists must submit an application, and, if accepted, will have the space for a month.

    Currently, Durango artist Dinah Swan is showing her pastels featuring 30 wild animals. Her pieces will be up through the end of the month.

    Swan got a bit of a late start in visual arts, although she’s always been an artist: A dancer and actress, she earned her Ph.D. in theater in fact, some of you may know her from her days teaching at Fort Lewis College.

    It wasn’t until a painting class at Durango Arts Center needed one more student to sign up that Swan discovered that she really liked the medium.

    Artist Dinah Swan said pastels are her medium of choice.
    “I said, ‘Well, great, I think that’ll be terrific fun.’ And so I signed up for the acrylic class,” she said. “And even though both of my parents were artistically talented, I had never had any training whatsoever. So in preparation for this class, I read Betty Edwards’ book, ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.’ It convinced me that while not everyone would be very good as an artist, everyone could learn to copy images onto paper in some form or other, drawing or whatever, by training their brain. And so then I went to class and I did a painting of my dog.”

    After that class, Swan continued with workshops and private lessons, ultimately deciding that working with pastels was what she’d do – and that landscapes weren’t necessarily her thing.

    “I only work in pastels. I’ve gone through the other ones, but it just suits me,” she said. “I painted landscapes at first because that’s what everybody in the group did. And sometimes, I’d go outside with the plein air group, which was not very good for me – I would wander around for an hour not finding anything to paint. ... So I said I’m too distracted with nature, so I’m just going to stick to animals.”

    While Swan’s professional track was a different form of art, the lessons she learned have carried over into her visual art.

    “I have a Ph.D. in theater, and so I did have training in scene design and costume design, so I was dabbling around with shapes and colors for many years,” she said. “What a trip to find later in life that you can paint.”


  • Dona Ana Arts Show April 2021 Exhibit

    Dona Ana Arts Show April 2021 Exhibit

    April 1--29,2021 thirty of Dinah Swan's animals will be exhibited at the Dona Ana Arts Center in Las Cruces, NM. Paintings include: Insects, Roadrunner, Lambs, Pelicans, Cats, Lemurs, Lion, Horses and a Bobcat. The featured photo above is a rescue dog, Orrie.

    This exhibit replaces Dinah's March, 2020 show that had to be closed due to New Mexico's Covid19 restrictions. Some painting from the 2020 collection will be shown, but over half will be new works.

  • Looking Glass Winter Art Show

    Looking Glass Winter Art Show

    The 4th annual winter art show of the Looking Glass Artists Collective opens with a public reception on Dec. 5, 2019 at the Smiley Cafe, E. 3rd Avenue and 13th Street, Durango, CO. Sixteen artist will exhibit in pastel, oil and watercolor. All work is for sale with 30% benefitting Durango's Local First. The show continues through January 30, 2020. Dinah Swan's Rocky Mountain Lion and Comfort, both pastels, will be exhibited.

  • Durango Senior Center Exhibit

    Durango Senior Center Exhibit

    Now through October 30, 2019, Dinah Swan's animal pastels are exhibited at the Durango Senior Center. (Durango, Colorado). The 20 original paintings depict pigs, horses, dogs, cows, bears, rats, bison, and more. All paintings are for sale.

  • Las Cruces Bulletin-Arts-"Into the Zone"

    See interview with Dinah Swan by Mike Cook in the Friday, July 5, 2019 edition of the Las Cruces Bulletin, pages 34-36. Includes 6 photos of Swan's pastels of animals.

  • Dinah Swan September Solo Show

    Dinah Swan September Solo Show

    Dinah Swan will exhibit twenty pastels of animals in the East Wing Gallery of the Durango Recreation Center for the month of September, 2019. Most of the animal paintings are on this web site.

  • Ouray CO Arts Association 59th juried show

    Ouray CO Arts Association 59th juried show

    Raven, pictured above took Second Place in the Artist's Alpine Holiday, a national juried fine art exhibit.

  • Animals of the Southwest at the NM Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum

    Animals of the Southwest at the NM Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum

    Dinah Swan's 33 pastels of southwest animals were exhibited at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, NM. April--August 2019.

  • Artist's Bio


    Dinah Leavitt Swan has been a creative artist her whole life beginning as a dancer and actress. She earned a Ph.D. in theatre (her published dissertation is on feminist theatre of the 1970s) and worked as a director and university professor for over two decades. Dinah is the author of five novels* and nineteen plays all of which are produced, six won national awards.
    Dinah, who draws artistic inspiration from nature, paints exclusively with pastels. She prefers animal subjects and southwestern landscapes. “Animals inspire me. I find pure joy in creating their images. I smile almost constantly while painting them and have been known to talk to them. A little.”
    Her work has been juried into many art’s organizations shows. A solo show of 33 of her paintings, ANIMALS OF THE SOUTHWEST, were featured at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum Gallery in Las Cruces, NM. She has donated many pet portraits to groups raising funds to assist animals.
    In summer, 2016 Dinah Swan had a one woman show of forty paintings at the Bowman Hall Gallery in Durango, CO. Her animal paintings have been exhibited at the Durango Arts Center and in Pastel Society of New Mexico annual shows. Las Cruces’ Tombaugh Gallery exhibited 38 of her animal paintings in March and April of 2017. The New Mexico Art League accepted two of her prints for its summer, 2017, “Limited Editions” exhibition, and one print, “Jack” was favorably reviewed in the Albuquerque Journal, 8/5/17. Her RAVEN won 2nd place in the 59th Annual Artists Alpine Holiday national juried show in Ouray, CO.
    The East Hall/Gallery at the Durango Recreation Center held 29 animal paintings during September, 2019, with some of those paintings migrating to the nearby Durango Senior Center for the month of October. Dinah will have works in the Looking Glass' Smiley Holiday Show in December, 2019 and in March, 2020 will exhibit 30 new animal pastels at the Dona Ana Arts Center in Las Cruces, NM.
    Dinah lives in Durango with husband, Terry, and dog, Gracie.

    She can be contacted through this website or by email Dinahswan@aol.com for commissions, exhibits or information.

    *Enter Dinah Swan in the www.Amazon.com search box

  • Dinah Swan Artist Spotlight 2/2017

    Artist Spotlight in -Picacho Living- magazine, February 2017
    Family: husband, Terry Swan (USAF ret. Colonel) and Gracie 2 yr. old heeler mix
    Profession(s): Retired college professor. PhD in Theatre; artist
    Artist Name: Dinah Swan

    Artist Website: --dinahswan.com

    Artist Email / Phone: DinahSwan@aol.com 970-247-1995

    1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in art? Have you taken any art classes?
    I became an artist after my Durango Arts Center President of the Board husband asked me if I wouldn’t like to take an art class at the Center to make sure it had adequate enrollment. I did. It was an acrylic painting class, and I was clueless. I painted my dog and my effort was not too bad. Considering. I took more classes and importantly, private drawing lessons, before landing in Lorraine Trenholm’s pastel studio where I have worked for four years.

    2. What is your preferred medium and why? Pastels (which are dry paint of all colors—compressed pigment with a binder and not chalk)

    3. Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
    Yes, a website. Dinahswan.com

    4. Do you have a favorite artist? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?
    Almost any of the French impressionists. The loose quality—suggestive not realistic and American modern/contemporary art.

    5. Can you remember one of the first things you drew/sculpted/painted/photographed etc.? What makes it memorable? First painting of dog, Brewsky. Not great but it showed me I could learn to paint.

    6. This being primarily an author’s blog, I would like to ask if you’ve ever designed any artwork for an author (cover image, maps, interior art - including font styles - etc.)? If not, would this be something you’d be interested in doing?
    However, I am the author of five novels, twenty plays and a published doctoral dissertation. Four of the novels can be found at Amazon.com by inserting Dinah Swan in the search box. I started writing women’s fiction with Romantic Fever, a middle age-coming of age story of a woman who must reinvent herself. Hacienda Blues followed and is the tale of 3 southern women who leave Mississippi for northern New Mexico. They buy an old hotel in the middle of nowhere. What could possibly go wrong? The next 3 books are the Mary Alice Tate Southern Mystery series: Cana Rising, Now Playing in Cana and Cana Crossroads. Amateur sleuth solves crimes through deep connections in north Mississippi.
    Amazon.com will let you preview a bit of each. I hired the cover image and formatting.

    7. Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works? The natural world, especially animals. I’ve painted many landscapes, adobe building, cacti, rocks and so on and done portraits but I find joy in rendering animals.

    8. Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre of art? How did it turn out? I painted plein air and most looked like salads

    9. Do you have any other interesting hobbies or maybe a fun story about an experience involving your artwork? In addition to being a college theatre professor I acted, directed and wrote about 2 dozen plays. The work consumed me, and now I do none of that.

    I notice many artists are very hard on themselves and critical of their work. Perhaps because I come from a different creative background-theatre-and began painting later in life, I never do this. To me some works are better than others, but they are all amazing and wondrous. That I can do this and get to do it as much as I want is a lifesaver. I was never an athlete and didn’t understand what runners called the zone-that euphoric state of focus and no-thought. I had no zone. However, now when I paint I am in the zone. I have very little ego invested; a surprising state.

    10. Where can we reach you if we are interested in commissioning you for our own projects? See info above

    11. What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating a masterpiece?
    Painting anything not a pure mental image is about learning to see what is really there. The brain fools us. Seeing is hardest. That and knowing when to stop.

    12. And finally, I would like to give you this opportunity to share three to five images and tell us a little about each:
    Photos appear in the magazine: Survival of the Fittest, Sooooeeee Pig, Just off the Plaza, and Cat on Ink. These four paintings also appear on Dinah’s website.

  • Dinah Swan Art Review

    Albuquerque Journal August 5, 2017
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Those longing for the day their prints will come need wait no longer. The New Mexico Art League is hosting “Limited Edition,” an extravaganza of more than 25 print artists.
    Because each artist is exhibiting more than one example of his or her work, this review will focus on a handful of outstanding pieces among many others.

    Cat pictures can be yawn-inspiring clichés, but in the case of “Jack” by Dinah Swan, we find a very painterly black-and-white print that easily stands up as a nicely done piece of fine art. The strong composition and wonderful use of darks make this a must-stop-and-look image.

  • Dinah Swan Art Review

    Dinah Swan Art Review