Hamilton massage therapist and part-time visual artist Dylan Swan got the idea to paint pictures depicting his city’s famous 30K race, Around the Bay, sometime after he first ran it about 20 years ago. “What struck me was all the support from the different communities you run through,” Swan says. “I thought that was awesome.” As a runner, he decided to stick to shorter distances, but he continued to go out to cheer on runners each year. One year, while waiting for runners to pass by, he got the idea to sketch the scene.
That led to the idea to paint a picture for every kilometre of the race, a project Swan embarked on in earnest in time for a show before last year’s race, with 20 canvases completed. He has since finished another 11 (one for each kilometre, plus one of the start line). The canvases are 40″ x 22″ and they are all on display at the Art Gallery of Hamilton until May 5, and all but 12 scenes are already sold. However Swan also has canvas and paper prints available. He will also be selling prints at the Around the Bay race expo at FirstOntario Centre tomorrow and Saturday.
“It just sort of happened organically,” Swan says. “I did the first painting as a one-off, and somebody liked it, and asked me to do one of where the race went by his office. So I had to wait for the next year, and when the race happened I went out to the 9K mark and did the painting. While I was doing that, I thought, I should come out here every year–but that would take 30 years! Then I fast-tracked it before the next race happened, and I got as many spots as I could.”
With the first two scenes, Swan made sketches at the location during the race, and created the paintings at home. Subsequent sketches were made by taking lots of photographs at the different locations, and then creating the paintings.
Swan attended the Ontario College of Art, but mostly gave up painting during the time he was training as a massage therapist and building his practice. He took it up again about 10 years ago. “I have a little paintbox under my massage table and I pull it out every chance I get,” he says.