heART struck-when the artist's work and your heart connect


Memorizing the Moment 2

All the artwork on this website is by my Dad, Barry Sweeny – a 32 year Wheaton, IL resident who recently passed away March 6th of this year. My Dad was not in pain when he died (at Central DuPage Hosp from chemo complications) and we were literally surrounding him holding hands, hugging and in tears as he took his last breaths. He was an art teacher for 22 years and a professional artist with awards and exhibits to boot. This my Father’s artwork which he loved to plan, create, exhibit and explain to others. Read more about my Dad Barry Sweeny.

This website is dedicated to my Dad Barry’s love for creating artwork – combining creativity and finding the connection to nature within us all through this artwork he called that “HeART Struck” or “HeArt Longing”-when the artist’s work and your heart connect!

This idea was defined in both of his “Memorizing the Moment” watercolors.

Here is what my Dad wrote about this piece.

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My Dad’s last art project

My dad Barry passed away in March, 3 years ago. His last serious art installation was a life long dream. He constructed a 4×8 foot model railroad table with my son Keller. Upon finishing the project with the exception of some wiring, we moved it from Chicago to Wisconsin. We then moved the giant train table to the farm in fall 2012, then moved with it to our current residence in Mineral Point, we sold this train project to a family who came up from Indiana through Craigslist.


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Fantasy Falls watercolor painting

This is the second and third watercolor painting which my dad produced in 2011 just before his death in 2012. These are actually two different watercolor paintings both titled “Fantasy Falls” but unoriginally he titled them “Fantasy Falls 1” and  “Fantasy Falls 2”.

My Dad’s “Oregon Coast 360” preserved





This weekend, my mom and sister and I dismantled my Dad’s huge 360 degree full panoramic watercolor artwork by screwing the sealed up work encased in1/4 inch lexan. We divided the watercolor in 1 part for mom and 2 parts kept together for Beckie and I which I’ll frame up and put at work or in the mancave.

Memorize the Moment 1

This is the first of two paintings he gave this name “Memorizing the Moment”. This name defined the idea behind his artwork which you can read about in this artwork’s description by my Dad, Barry Sweeny, the artist of this work.

This painting is an exemple of what my mission as a painter is all about.

There are sometimes very special moments in our lives when we experience such a profound ‘high’, such a special insight, or such a wonder-full feeling in nature, that we don’t want to leave. We don’t want to forget that moment. We want to take that ethereal, almost intangible experience with us and hold onto it.

My art work is dedicated to capturing just such moments and allowing us to dwell in them and enjoy them more often and more fully, whenever we look at the painting.

This is such an attempt, and its title, “Memorizing the Moment” says it all. Perhaps she is about to leave this place but has had a great time while here. She’s quietly sitting on the ancient rocks, listening to the breeze in the trees, watching the water lap the shore, maybe watching for a little sea creature to appear in the tidal pools. She’s “drinking it all in” so she can re-experience it again later when she needs to still her heart and mind.

This is painted in transparent watercolors on 22″ by 30″ Arches 100% cotton rag paper. The only exception is the use of opaque w/c in the lighter branches of the pines which needed to come forward more into the sun light.

It is an expression of the many rocky shores on which I have sat, memorizing the moment-Lake Superior, Maine, California, Washington, and Oregon to name a few.


This artwork has a blue award ribben hanging on it at my Mother’s house in Wheaton, IL.

This is a double award winning water color, sized 22″ by 30″ which was painted on Arches 140# cold pressed, 100% cotton rag paper.

It was painted in the studio and was based on photographs I took while walking along beautiful Oak Creek near Sedona Arizona. It’s a place I would gladly revisit every year.

At the moment of the best photo, the sun refractions made by the ripples on the water of the creek were not visible on the surface. But, they clearly showed through the crystal water and could be seen dancing on the submerged rocks below. It was as if there was no surface to the water at all!

It was only just to the right of that scene, where the water splashed over a small rapids, that the surface had visible reflections and foam. It was really a magical moment to see this and it was a significant challenge to try to capture that magical, momentary feeling.

The painting is my humble attempt to capture that amazing, etherial moment of the “sundance”.


In 2007 the DuPage Art League, Wheaton, Illinois, juried this painting into it’s exhibit, “A Place in the Sun”, and the painting was given an “Award of Special Merit”.

In 2009 this work was juried into the Red River Valley International Juried Exhibition, held at the Red River Valley Museum in Vernon, Texas, May 1 through June 19th. It was awarded the IESI Award.

Storm Watch on Vero Beach

Yet another watercolor done from a Florida vacation scene. Here is what my Dad Barry Sweeny, the artist of the piece wrote about this work of art.

A warm, relaxing day at the beach. Warm water. Warm breezes. Peaceful moments.

While my wife floats on her inflated ring, bobbing on the gentle waves, I am chilled a bit and head into the beach to sit and warm up in the sun.

As I relax there, I am wondering if I can find anything worth painting. If I don’t find something to paint, it’s going to be a long, tiresome day. I am not the beach person my wife is.

While I am considering what to paint, a chill is felt, the wind picks up some, and the sky out over the water starts to turn darker. “Wow”, I’m thinking. “I could sure paint that, but it would be a wierd, messy ‘wet-in-wet’ painting.”

As the wind increases, the life guard runs a pennant up the pole and sounds the warning. Everyone gathers their stuff and heads for the cars. The trees, sea oats, and grasses whip around. Leaves pull loose and blow across the sky. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Instead of running, we stand and watch. It IS a storm “watch”, right? After all, we were just wet from swimming, so what’s a bit more water?!

Of course, I eventually catch a photo and we head to our car too. We wanted to stay and knew we should go. But we enjoyed that minute or two observing nature’s power.

The painting was done later on in the studio. It is a transparent watercolor on 15″ by 20″ Arches 140# cold pressed 100% cotton rag paper.

Muse for the Dark Side

I love that in this description written by my Dad, he noted that the “Dark SIde” is not a Star Wars reference but rather a nod to the shadows in this piece, here is what he wrote about his experience coming up with this watercolor artwork inspired from a 2007 beach walk at Sanibel Island, Florida.

During a 2007 visit to his timeshare on Sanibel Island, near Fort Myers, Florida, Barry collected a series of beach images in photos. This painting was the product of that collection.

It is a transparent watercolor painted on 14″ by 20″ Arches cold pressed 140# paper.

Many a sunset and numerous walks on the beach were combined with a version of a jumble of drift wood Barry saw. Was the wood stranded there after pounding by waves? Maybe not, since there are some rather small, fragile branches that would have been broken off in the process. Was it a pile made by human hands? If so, why? For a beach bonfire? Then why aren’t the smaller brances burned away?

Several photos of the drift wood were used for details, but the main one was a silhouette which made most of the wood too dark to see, except for the shape. Instead, Barry allowed some of the back lighting to lighten the edges of the pieces of wood just a bit.

The dramatic lighting is a bit moody, yet so nearly true to what was observed and so interesting as abstract shapes, that Barry used it. This was done even though most artists don’t use such strong silhouettes. The shapes and lines “called” to Barry saying, “Paint us. We are your muse, your inspiration.”

Therefore, the title does not refer to the moral “dark side” as in a Star Wars movie, so much as literally to the dark side of objects that so rarely are painted.

Seven Cycles

This watercolor has been in the home that I grew up in for a long time. I recall my Dad asking me what I thought about it when he completed it. I still love the ferns coming to life in the Spring and this artwork of his alway reminded me of the beginnings of Springtime. Here’s what my Dad Barry Sweeny, the artist of the piece, wrote about the artwork he created:

“Seven Cycles” is a transparent water color painted in 1986. It is intended to be very symbolic, representing in the images, seven different kinds of life cycles in nature. These images are all from my memory or photos and sketch books. The mountains are a version of the “Flat Irons” in the front range of the Rockies at Boulder Colorado. Some of the cycles are the plants at various stages in their lives. Others are more complex, like the water cycle.

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