For Riverhead expressionist artist Thomas McSwane, art is more than just painting a landscape as it appears to the naked eye.
His watercolor technique involves adding the feeling he gets when looking at North Fork landscapes — including its energy and hidden colors and patterns.
The husband and father of four children said he has projected those meditative feelings into his art for the past 43 years by adding an array of bold, swirling colors to his landscape pieces. Mr. McSwane describes the method as “Landscape-Inscape,” which is also the title of his latest art exhibit at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn Art Barn in Jamesport.
“The idea of inscape is a philosophical thought from the Middle Ages that also has to do with poetry,” he said. “The idea is about the beauty of the creative world around us and how it’s more than just what you see.”
Originally from the Los Angels area, Mr. McSwane earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from San Diego State University and studied art history and art criticism at Stony Brook University’s masters program under renowned artist Donald Kuspit.
Over the course of his art career, Mr. McSwane has showcased his work in a variety of art galleries, including in Greenport and Riverhead, as well as in St. Peter’s Church in midtown Manhattan. While painting and raising his children, Dillon, 17, Josie, 21, Jessie, 27, and Dustin, 30, Mr. McSwane has also worked as a host and waiter at Tweed’s Restaurant and Buffalo Bar since it opened in downtown Riverhead.
“I’ve been painting for so many years and through raising and supporting a family, there has always been my art,” Mr. McSwane said.
In addition to his own garden, Mr. McSwane said he enjoys painting the Peconic Bay and Indian Island, as well as other landscapes across Long Island. An active member of the Living Water Church in Aquebogue, Mr. McSwane also gains his inspiration from the Bible.
During his exhibit’s opening reception Sunday, Mr. McSwane — wearing rainbow-colored, thin-rimmed circular eyeglasses — said he recently decided to put together a show after a 10-year break from exhibiting his work when his wife, Nancy, started to categorize his art this summer.
Ms. McSwane, a vocal drama coach, said she loves looking at her husband’s paintings because she sees “joy” and “excitement” in each one.
“I see another world, even though it’s a painting of my front yard,” she said of Mr. McSwane’s “Tree in the Middle” painting. “It’s not just a brown tree. He takes the other hints of colors and brings them out.”
The free exhibit is open Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. until Oct. 21. For more information, visit Mr. McSwane’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Colorpsalm.