Psalm 23

An original, hand-printed serigraph published by John August Swanson with the collaboration of Aurora Serigraphics Studio, Van Nuys, CA.

Edition Size: 180
Completed: November 27, 2010
Image Size: 15.25″ x 24.25″
Paper: 100% cotton rag, acid free
Colors: 47 Color Stencils


Artist’s Notes:

Moving forward barefoot and without fear, two figures travel through a valley, transformed by their belief; it is a world where lions and lambs can lie together in peaceful harmony. The language of Psalm 23 carries a message of strength – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

The forest, with deep shadows and darkness is a place filled with hidden sights and creatures. Since times long past, families and communities have sat around campfires and fireplaces to tell their legends. My mother told us stories of the forests and the mountains in Chihuahua, Mexico. My father’s family in Sweden spoke about the wild wolves in their local forest, as well as myths of forest people and ancient creatures. People understood the dangers of the wilderness. Travelers would seek to find shelter before the darkness of the night.

There is no moon in my image of the night, but the stars create a luminescence that helps those who are taking a journey. My vision contains the wonder and awe found in star-filled night skies. Our earliest ancestors may have gazed up to ponder the brilliance of these lights. They looked for order in the heavens, and marveled at the many wondrous and spectacular sights held within the glowing clusters of stars.

This story connects with our own lives, as we listen to those who encourage and empower others to speak out and stand against death, violence, and hate.



You, darkness, that I come from, I love you more than all the fires that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything- shapes and fires, animals and myself, how easily it gathers them!
– powers and people-
and it is possible a great presence is moving near me. I have faith in nights.
Rainer Maria Rilke, You, Darkness

One must face many challenges, and make decisions and compromises. ‘Too dark? Too transparent? Is it the right shade?’
There are risks involved in this long process of building, with the layering of printed inks, and in creating depth and texture. The process is difficult, but through it I have found that the story has become a part of me.
John August Swanson


History of the Image:

(Original Pencil and Ink Drawing)

(2-Color Proof with colors
#9-Transparent Paynes Grey Asphaltum, and
#11-Transparent Oxide Indian Yellow)

(2-Color Proof with colors
#6-Translucent Green Gold, and
#10-Transparent Shiva Blue Deep)

(8-Color State Proof
with color testing)

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
-King James Version