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ABOUT

Tara Sweeney is an award-winning artist and illustrator based in Saint Paul, Minnesota who creates with watercolor and ink. Her prolific body of work includes studio painting, plein air sketching, book illustration and design. She teaches watercolor workshops nationally and internationally, including plein air travel programs. She is an experienced juror. Tara holds signature member in the National Watercolor Society, Red River Watercolor Society and Minnesota Watercolor Society, where she served 7 years on the board as programming  and workshop chair.

Her work was chosen to represent Minnesota in the National Watercolor Society’s 50 Stars 2020 Exhibition. She co-authored and illustrated the 2020 MN Book Award Finalist picture book, A to Zåäö: Playing with History at the American Swedish Institute (University of MN Press, 2019). The American Swedish Institute's 2020 exhibition, extra/ordinary, was inspired by the book and featured the original illustrations. She is a frequent presenter and interviewee for watercolor events. TPT2 public television’s MN Original recently showcased her work. In 2017, she was awarded a MN State Arts Board grant to create A to Zåäö, and in 2009 for her mixed media series, Forbidden Fruit. Close to Home: A Minnesota Year in Sketches is her debut collection of illustrated creative nonfiction. Other illustrations include: Henry the Boy (Penny Candy Press, 2019) as well as book covers for Harper and Row Perennial Library, Milkweed Editions, University of Minnesota Press and Minnesota Historical Society Press. In 2012, she was awarded a grant to create a plein air sketchbook while walking from Lucca to Rome. In 2017, she created a 25-day plein air sketchbook on the Route des Vins in Alsace, France. In 2018, she biked and sketched in Burgundy for four weeks. In 2019, she was invited to represent the Twin Cities in Tours, France in a sister city sketching exchange. In 2021 she returned to Burgundy to create a sketchbook for the historic city of Joigny.

Recent Awards: MN Watercolor Society 2020 (Best of Show), 2019 (Founder’s Award); National Watercolor Society 2017 (merchandise award).

Selected Solo exhibitions: Extra/Ordinary (2019-2020), American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, MN; Close to Home: Sketching a MN Year, Part II, (2014), Gage Family Gallery, Minneapolis, MN; Close to Home: Sketching a MN Year, Part I (2013), Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI​.

Selected group exhibitions: Transparent Watercolor Society of America International (2018 and 2019); National Watercolor Society International (2017 and 2019); National Watercolor Society Member Exhibition (2011-2013); Red River Watercolor Society International (2018, 2019, 2021); Watercolor West International (2010); Waterborne: Selections from the Weisman Museum (2008-2009); NorthStar Watermedia International (2017, 2019, 2021); MN Watercolor Society Exhibitions (2005 to present).

Tara is an experienced and articulate juror. Recent judging includes: 2020 MN State Fair fine arts exhibition watercolor division; 2019 NorthStar Watermedia Society exhibition; 2018 Artists of MN exhibition; among others. She is art professor emeritus with Augsburg University, where she taught 25 years. She served as chair of the department and sat on the committee of selection for Augsburg Galleries’ six annual national and international exhibiting artists. Prior to teaching she worked in publishing: first as executive art director for Mpls.-St. Paul Magazine; and later as owner/principal designer for Fruitful Results. She earned undergraduate degrees in studio art and in textile design from the University of Wisconsin (1978), and an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1997). Her studies included coursework at the West Surrey College of Art and Design, UK where her lifelong love of watercolor began.

View her work on her website and Instagram @tarasweeneyart