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 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.
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.
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.
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.
I spent a LOT of time with friends and Blackwell Forest Preserve when I was younger. For me and my friends, it was a place to get away from it all and I am happy to see that my Dad recognized this too. Here is what he wrote about this piece.
I awoke one winter Saturday morning in 2005 to discover a think wet blanket of snow had fallen during the night. My wife and I grabbed breakfast and our cameras and went for a drive to capture the magic before it melted away. One stop was Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois, near where we live. At one point this scene “begged” us to stop . The light was somewhat diffused but the sun still cast shadows on the snow. This pine was on the crest of a hill overlooking a nearly frozen lake. Only the edges remained open water. On the island of ice in the lake, the area geese had settled down for a nap in the safety of their isolation and the warmth of the sun.
What especially grabbed my attention were the almost abstract patterns of snow clumps on the branches contrasted with the deep dark green areas hidden underneath. I also loved the softness of these snow clumps against the wonderful linear patterns of the dead branches around the base of the trunk. There we could see the shapes of the snow made by the driving wind. It struck me as a very peaceful and quiet, yet ephemeral moment. The work of the sun would transform this scene quickly by melting away the wonderful snow patterns. Then, almost missed, we spotted the owl, hidding deep within the darkness of the inner tree, watching us watching him. Magic!
The painting is done in transparent watercolors so the snow white areas are simply unpainted paper, as is traditional in watercolors. The paper is 15″ by 20″ Arches 140# cold pressed 100% cotton rag, the best available.
Here is another watercolor painting done from images I saw while walking along Oak Creek near Sedona Arizona. This particular scene greeted me late one afternoon as the light slanted deeply across the scene. I was near the famous Red Rock Crossing area west of Sedona. Fortunately, I had my camera and was able to freeze the wonderful moment.
Most of the red rocks in the area cliffs are sandstones, but the very top edge of the canyon is capped with black and sometimes gray hardened lava. That leads to some very odd arrangements down in the creek bottoms. The red sandstone erodes quickly to sand and silt, but the hard basalt weathers to amazing rounded, pitted boulders and cobbles. In this specific case, it looked to me as if the rocks were being ‘born’ from within the red mud. In fact, I am sure that the mud covered most of the rocks when wet, and that as the mud dried and contracted, the cracks formed and the mud shrank and settled around the rocks, creating the little “volcano” shapes around each rock.
Then, as nature always does, in the midst of the dried and lifeless scene, a tiny plant found just enough moisture to grow foliage and bloom.
The painting is done in transparent watercolors on 15″ by 20″ Arches 140# cold pressed rag paper.
Although it is somewhat an exaggeration, this scene came from an experience I had walking along Oak Creek, at Arroyo Robles Resort, in Sedona Arizona. This is one of my all time favorite places and I try to return there every year that I can. I know exactly what Zane Grey meant when he titled the book he wrote near here, “Call of the Canyon”. It calls me too, to come “home”.
At this particular time, the late afternoon light barely made it diagonally down between the two walls of the canyon and spilled across a small section of Oak Creek as I watched. It lasted just two or three minutes and was at it’s most intense for only about one minute.
I did take several reference photos, but none did this scene justice. Only by working with the images in my mind could I even come close to the amazement of the scene. What a gift to see it and to try to share!
The painting is a transparent watercolor, done on Arches 140# cold pressed 100% cotton rag paper, and sized about 13″ by 16″.
This painting began as a demonstration for a watercolor course I taught in fall 2007. It was built from reference photos, almost like a photo collage, taken at the Churchill Forest Preserves near where I live. However, to enrich the image and composition, I added elements from Northside Park in Wheaton, and from my photo collection of flowers. The last mentioned was added last as I finally figured out the title for this painting.
The work is a very emotional reaction to the morning scene, soft light not yet too high in the sky, and the glory of God’s creation. It seemed to me that His whole creation was singing His praises. That’s when it finally came to me. “This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise, the morning bright, the lilies white, declare their Maker’s praise.” This painting is my, “Amen”.
Artistically, this was a very challenging painting.
• First, I wanted the intense but small color contrast of the red orange flower parts to vibrate against the overall green of the painting.
• Second, I wanted the solid hardness of the rocks to contrast the softer, textured areas of foliage.
• Third, I wanted a strong sense of balance and “rightness” in the design, but to avoid a “dead center” feeling, I shifted slightly those elements that made sense to change, to create a bit more dynamic placement for them. I wanted a still, quite, yet full of life image.
• Finally, while I wanted the strong warm and cool colors to work back into the distance and from the right to the left, I had to be sure to repeat these colors in many objects to ensure a feeling of unity and harmony in the painting. I am very pleased with the results!
The painting is 15″ X 30″ and is painted on Arches 300# cold pressed cotton rag paper.
“Fall Reflections” was done as a demonstration watercolor painting. What I especially like about it are the intense color contrast of the deep blue greens in the evergreens and the golden oranges in the deciduous trees. The shadows draw your eyes to the focus area, but you also wander around the corner, following the stream as it heads back behind that area. Where does it go?
It’s like many places I have been and wanted to stay indefinitely, absorbing all that’s there to see, so I can remember the place, the smells, the colors and my feelings.