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Image of color enhanced pen and ink drawing

James Guilford Swinnerton was born in Eureka, California in 1875.
Known as the “the Dean of Desert Artists,” Swinnerton came to the desert not by choice. He was a Californian, and attended the San Francisco Art Association Art School where he studied under William Keith and Emil Carlsen along with classmate Maynard Dixon.

His skills were noticed by a young William Randolph Hearst who brought Swinnerton to New York to work for his newspaper syndicate. He penned two comic strips, "Little Jimmy," and "Little Tiger." But, in 1903 at age twenty-eight, he contracted tuberculosis, and for health reasons relocated to California, this time to the desert community of Colton.

From 1903 onward, he was a painter of the desert. At first, his renditions were not accepted. Critics expected the vast wastelands of the Sahara, but Swinnerton persisted. He explored throughout New Mexico, Arizona (nine years before it became the 48th state), Utah, and California. His favored subjects included the Grand Canyon and portraits of American Indians. He even had a comic strip of Indian children called "Canyon Kiddies" which was published in Good Housekeeping Magazine.

Decades after Swinnerton drew "Little Jimmy" and the "Canyon Kiddies," these strips were made into animated cartoons. In 1936, "Little Jimmy" was a guest star in Max Fleischer's "Betty Boop." In the 1940's, Warner Brothers Looney Toons featured the "Canyon Kiddies" in an animated cartoon entitled Mighty Hunters. Swinnerton's provided paintings of the Grand Canyon which were used for the backdrops. View our article in Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Monthly, March, 2009, and you may view "YouTube" versions of both of these cartoons.

Jimmy was a friend to many western artists, and an inspiration and teacher for others. In "The Man Who Painted Sunshine," there is a description of a painting trek where John W. Hilton accompanied Jimmy Swinnerton on an enjoyable sketching trip to Monument Valley.  

Swinnerton died in 1974.

 - 62-053

color enhanced pen and ink drawing James Guilford Swinnerton was born in Eureka, California in 1875. Known as the “the Dean of Desert Artists,” Swinnerton came to the desert not by choice. He was a Californian, and attended the San Francisco Art Association Art School where he studied under William Keith and Emil Carlsen along with classmate Maynard Dixon. His skills were noticed by a young William Randolph Hearst who brought Swinnerton to New York to work for his newspaper syndicate. He penned two comic strips, "Little Jimmy," and "Little Tiger." But, in 1903 at age twenty-eight, he contracted tuberculosis, and for health reasons relocated to California, this time to the desert community of Colton. From 1903 onward, he was a painter of the desert. At first, his renditions were not accepted. Critics expected the vast wastelands of the Sahara, but Swinnerton persisted. He explored throughout New Mexico, Arizona (nine years before it became the 48th state), Utah, and California. His favored subjects included the Grand Canyon and portraits of American Indians. He even had a comic strip of Indian children called "Canyon Kiddies" which was published in Good Housekeeping Magazine. Decades after Swinnerton drew "Little Jimmy" and the "Canyon Kiddies," these strips were made into animated cartoons. In 1936, "Little Jimmy" was a guest star in Max Fleischer's "Betty Boop." In the 1940's, Warner Brothers Looney Toons featured the "Canyon Kiddies" in an animated cartoon entitled Mighty Hunters. Swinnerton's provided paintings of the Grand Canyon which were used for the backdrops. View our article in Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery Monthly, March, 2009, and you may view "YouTube" versions of both of these cartoons. Jimmy was a friend to many western artists, and an inspiration and teacher for others. In "The Man Who Painted Sunshine," there is a description of a painting trek where John W. Hilton accompanied Jimmy Swinnerton on an enjoyable sketching trip to Monument Valley. Swinnerton died in 1974. - 62-053

Object Type: Object

Image of Encelia Lodge key tag                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          - 100-033

Encelia Lodge key tag - 100-033

Object Type: Object