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, as well as leading international plein air sketching trips. She is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society and Minnesota Watercolor Society.
She co-authored and illustrated with Nate Christopherson the 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 exhibition, extra/ordinary, was inspired by the book and features the original illustrations, on view until January 29, 2020. 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 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 Burgundy for four weeks.
Solo exhibitions include: 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. Recent group exhibitions include: 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 and 2019); Watercolor West International (2010); Waterborne: Selections from the Weisman Museum (2008-2009); Northstar Watermedia International (2017 and 2019); MN Watercolor Society Exhibitions (2005-2020).
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