Tara Sweeney, an award-winning artist, illustrator and author based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, has been creating award-winning work for more than forty years. Her prolific body of work includes watercolor painting, plein air sketching, illustration and creative non-fiction. She teaches watercolor workshops nationally and internationally, including plein air travel programs. She is an experienced juror. Tara holds signature membership in the National Watercolor, Red River Watercolor and Minnesota Watercolor Societies.
Her recent work has been awarded Best in Show locally and nationally 2020, 2021 and 2022. Her painting 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 2019, she represented the Twin Cities in Tours, France in a sister city sketching exchange.
Recent Awards: Northstar Water Media National 2021 (Best of Show), MN Watercolor Society 2022 (Best in Show) 2020 (Best in 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: 2022 NorthStar Water Media National exhibition; 2022 Great Plains Watercolor Society exhibition; 2020 MN State Fair fine arts exhibition; 2018 NorthStar Water Media 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 exhibition selection for Augsburg's Galleries. Prior to teaching she worked in publishing: first as executive art director for Mpls.-St. Paul Magazine; then 15 years 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