Tara Sweeney is an award-winning artist and illustrator based in Saint Paul, Minnesota who creates with watercolor, ink and book forms. Her prolific body of work includes studio paintings, plein air sketchbooks and book illustrations. She teaches watercolor workshops nationally and internationally, as well as leading international plein air sketching trips. She is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and Minnesota Watercolor Society.
TPT2 public television’s MN Original recently showcased her work. In 2017, she was awarded a MN State Arts Board grant to write and illustrate the picture book A to Zåäö, for the American Swedish Institute (University of MN Press, 2019), 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 walking from Lucca to Rome. In 2017, she created a 25-day plein air sketchbook of ‘la route des vins’ in Alsace, France. In 2018, she biked and sketched across Burgundy for four weeks.
Recent exhibitions include: Transparent Watercolor Society of America International (2018); National Watercolor Society International (2017-18); National Watercolor Society Member Exhibition (2011-2013); Red River Watercolor Society International (2018); Watercolor West International (2010); Waterborne: Selections from the Weisman Museum (2008-2009); MN Watercolor Society Exhibitions (2005-2018). Solo exhibitions include: 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.
She is professor emeritus with Augsburg University, where she taught drawing and painting for 25 years. Prior to teaching she worked in publishing: as executive art director for Mpls.-St. Paul Magazine; and 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 Surry College of Art and Design, UK where her lifelong love of watercolor began.
View additional work on Instagram @tarasweeneyart