Red Sail by Joe Sweeney

Red Sail
Oil / Museum Board • 11.5 x 12.5

Artist’s Statement

My journey to becoming an artist has taken a round-a-bout path.

The Mac Sweeney family has lived along the coast of one county or another since the 1300’s. In Ireland, along the coast of Donegal, in the states, our family has lived in Philadelphia, a port city. There was always water near by.

At nineteen I was a navigator on a destroyer escort in the North Atlantic. Sea duty for me was an existence in a world of gray; gray sky, gray sea, gray ships. Out of sight of land most of the time, we were cold, wet, and exhausted. I still like the sea what I didn’t like was “sea duty.” As a result of my Navy experience, I decided to stay ashore and become an artist, more specifically a landscape painter. But a painter who is never too far from the shore. Since then, I have painted coastline in order to deal with the boundary between land and water, the artist and the environment, and to express the sublime nature of the world surrounds us. And to convey the reality that this Earth is our home and the only one we will ever have.

Over the years I have used landscape painting as a metaphor for my own search for a sense of balance. Some of the themes I explore in my work have to do with man's relationship with nature, the effects that man has on the environment, and expressing the character and essence of "place". My interests range geographically from the farmlands of Pennsylvania to the coastal shores of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maine as well as to my ancestral homeland in Ireland.

The work is simple and direct which belies the hours spent looking, thinking and selecting a location. The foundation of most of my work is small "Plein air" paintings that will often find their way onto larger canvases. I am under no illusion that by painting the environment I can save the planet.