Mower of Lawns by Day, Painter by Night


Dear Christopher C in Hawaii,
This article made me think of you and your wonderful rant in defense of landscape workers.  It’sSwain_1 about Jason Swain, the Aussie landscaper whose portrait of Steve Irwin has been hanging in the mansion at Strathmore Hall, the fancy-ass arts center in Bethesda, Maryland, before being donated to the Australian Zoo.  From the Strathmore website:

"The portrait idea came about after Steve Irwin passed away and I
painted two murals of him on the side of my van as a tribute. The
paintings attracted a lot of interest and sparked the idea of a larger
free-standing portrait as a gift to Terri Irwin,” said Jason Swain. The
painting is valued at about $30,000 and is 5 feet by 4 feet. The
portrait will hang in the Mansion before its arrival in Australia.

The artist described his typical workday – mowing 20 lawns, then going home and painting til 11:30 at night.  As yet, he has no gallery representation and calls himself the "world’s worst marketer."  Oh, yeah?  So how’d he land on the front page of the fricking Washington Post Style Section?  Mate, you’re sure as hell doing something right.

But back to the subject of Christopher’s rant.  I say whether you love or hate Jason Swain’s work, he’s a passionate painter and that’s always cool with me.  I’ve known and admired people who transcribed tapes to pay the rent while doing some amazing things, like writing this magazine and this biography of a famous Danish dancer I’d never heard of.  Yeah, I know first-hand that a lot of talented people have get-no-respect day jobs.  I even have a few war stories of my own about being treated like "the help".

Your friend in blogging, Susan.

[Photo by Bill O’Leary of the Washington Post.]


  1. Dear Susan,

    What a sweet thing to wake up to.

    $30,000 for a fricken painting of Steve Irwin by a lawn jockey?

    I do have a painting gene in my pool. My paternal grandfather was an excellent painter.

    On my last trip home I saw some of my uncle’s botanical paintings for the first time and was very impressed.

    My father is an excellent draftsman who is currently doing various floorplan ideas for my future home in NC.

    There aren’t any seagulls in Hawaii but I could go photograph a Hawaiian Stilt and have it printed, paint that 100 times and ask Charlie to be my mentor.

    $30,000 dollars, Lord help me! I guess he will be mowing lawns for a bit longer since he is giving it as a gift to Terri.

    Thanks for thinking of me.

    Your friend in blogging, Christopher

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