Carol Schwennesen’s painting, “Tundra” (Carol Schwennesen Artwork).

Carol Schwennesen’s painting, “Tundra” (Carol Schwennesen Artwork).

Our Town: Painter’s Work Comes From ‘Dance of Spirit and Matter’

Carol Schwennesen writes about her artistic process.

  • Thursday, March 25, 2021 5:12pm
  • Arts

Note: This is the latest in a series of profiles from Vashon Island Visual Artists (ViVA). This week, we hear from artist Carol Schwennesen. To find out more about the vibrant visual arts scene on Vashon, and explore an artists’ directory that includes Schwennesen and other ViVA members, visit

My paintings emerge from physical and metaphysical entanglements, a dance of spirit and matter.

They are symbolic and expressive. A thick stroke of paint initiates a weaving of colors and marks that will become a painting. I never know the final form it will take, but I do know that in the end, I’ll have visible evidence of an invisible condition that will surprise me.

I’ve always been interested in the non-determinism, uncertainties, and probabilities revealed by modern physics. My father, a nuclear engineer, explained atoms and molecules to me when I was a young child. I was fascinated by the invisible creating the visible.

I trace my art process back to age 7:My favorite activity in Idaho Falls, Idaho, was to walk around the block, looking in the street gutters to see what I might find. A penny? Fun! A trickle from a lawn sprinkler creating waterfalls from the sidewalk into the gutter, upon which the leaf I just found could float? I liked not knowing what I would find, but knew that whatever it was, I could “do something” with it: Twigs topped with a fallen leaf make a raft to float down the gutter, soap bubbles from car washing can be steered with a piece of straw.

I hold BA and BFA degrees in Art History and Studio Art from Western Washington University and earned my MFA at Claremont Graduate University in California. I’ve had a busy career exhibiting my work and teaching. I have taught at colleges and universities, including Scripps College in California, and for schools and groups here on Vashon.

My paintings are in collections in Italy, England, Japan, and across the US. Three of my paintings were selected to be in the movie “Beetlejuice”, 1988.


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Local painter Carol Schwennesen, in her studio (Annie Marie Musselman Photo).

Local painter Carol Schwennesen, in her studio (Annie Marie Musselman Photo).

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