We had the good fortune of connecting with Carol McSweeney and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carol, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
In my art, I often include figures and faces in situations that aren’t often celebrated with artistic rendering. Each painting, regardless of the subject matter, is created to hopefully connect with the viewer’s curiosity and challenge social beliefs. For example, I have completed a series of paintings of homeless individuals who have modeled for me. My work has received recognition for sensitive portrayals of those at whom we often avert our gazes, and has started conversations about how to support and connect with these individuals. It has also been a rich journey for me to spend hours of time getting to know someone’s story and try to speak emotionally to that in my work. I also enjoy painting scenes from ranch and rodeo life, again created through days spent meeting, conversing with and photographing people I meet who are involved in passionate pursuits. I find that viewers are often prompted to ask questions about everything from the experience of raising cattle to animal safety and environmental concerns. Another area of interest to me is portraiture of people and pets. It is an incredibly rewarding challenge to see if I can express character and mood with a brushstroke or a color. Again, the time spent getting to know my subjects is the fuel that I believe drives the quality of a painting.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am humbled and still surprised at the recognition that my work has received. Some recent awards include First Place and Best of Show for the Missouri International Watercolor Exhibition in Qingdao, China. A portrait that I painted that was included on the cover of Watercolor Artist magazine was used in a recent Jumanji movie. My work has been included in a number of national and international publications and has been awarded in dozens of exhibitions. My paintings sell primarily by word of mouth, and I have collectors who have given me incredible support along the way. Achieving a level of success in art involves willingness to take risks and fail often. One has to create many “bad paintings” in order to learn how to construct a painting that works on many levels. It is important to continue to take new chances, experiment with new materials, and be open to criticism in order to find one’s voice. In my case, needing to have the time and the focus to paint led to my retiring from my previous career and risking predictability in income and lifestyle. In my work, I hope to connect with my viewers and share my “world” for a moment. Art is an amazing tool for understanding life as we know it and for finding ways to express our views and emotions.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am passionate about the Phoenix/Scottsdale area! As an ardent outdoor enthusiast, our first adventure would probably be a hike up at Brown’s Ranch, part of the McDowell Mountain Conservation Area. We would work up an appetite for gelato and there’s none better, in my opinion, than That’s Amore in North Scottsdale. The rest of the week, assuming that Covid is under control at that time, would be spent balancing athletic endeavors with cultural experiences. Cycling on the Greenbelt from McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale down to Tempe is always a delight, with snapshots of our community – ponds with bird life, athletic fields brimming with sports players, and some stops for coffee and snacks along the way. The Phoenix Art Museum, the Heard Museum and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art are well-known for their collections and are wonderful places to take visitors. Favorite restaurants for casual meals are Flower Child, Postino, Coconuts, and True Foods. For a more “foodie” experience, FNB in Old Town Scottsdale is by far my favorite. Other places with great and unique dining experiences include Rancho Pinot, Chelsea’s, and Andreoli’s Italian.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe my initial immersion into watercolor arts to a group of teens! My initial career as a counselor and school psychologist involved conducting groups for students who had experienced trauma and had difficulty with self-expression. I provided them with art materials that made it easier for them to to relate their experiences to the group. The teen group that I worked with convinced me to take a watercolor class so that I could teach them how to use the medium. By the end of the class, I was hooked on painting! Along the way, I took workshops with artists whose work I admired and a shoutout also goes to a dozen or more masters of art that shared their paths and techniques with me.
Facebook: Carol McSweeney@carolmcsweeneywatercolors