VIBRANT COLORS AND WILDLIFE MIXED WITH ART AND AMUSEMENT.
Inspired and delighted by the landscape of Western New York, artist Erin Hanafin Sweeney is creating pieces that celebrate the colors, spirit, and absurd kitsch of springtime.
Geneseo, New York-based painter and mixed media artist, Erin Hanafin Sweeney is known for her mixed media collage, expressive animals, and abstract landscapes. Her work is grounded in acrylic paint, but she often uses other media, like collage and oil stick, to tell stories and add dimension. Erin believes life is too short to not have amusing art.
Tell us about yourself and why you decided to become an artist.
I'm a mixed media artist and painter from Geneseo, New York. I've always been a maker and interested in art, but being a working artist wasn't something I thought was a possibility for me. The covid lockdown gave me all of this time to make art and when I tried acrylic paint, it really clicked. I've painted virtually everyday since and my work started to resonate with people. That's when I realized I could turn it into a job.
How did you get into art?
I've loved art my whole life, but I definitely wasn't one of the star art students in grade school. I took several printmaking classes in college and I had the most amazing professor who really encouraged me. That's when I realized that you don't have to be the most naturally gifted person to make good work, you just have to make a lot of work to improve your skills and develop your taste over time.
Describe your style of work. Why mixed media collage, expressive animals, and abstract landscapes?
My work is probably best categorized as pop art. I use big brushes to create shapes that are simultaneously graphic and loose. I paint subjects that bring me joy and that I find amusing. When I'm working on a painting, I spend a lot of time with it, so I usually want it to be a happy experience.
Who/what are your inspirations?
I like the juxtaposition between things that feel comfortable and nostalgic but are still a little bit unsettling, or at least unexpected. My favorite artists are Fairfield Porter and Wayne Thiebaud. I'm really inspired by my kids and the way they draw and paint just for the fun of it. They couldn't care less how their final piece looks and that authenticity is something that adults tend to lose. Ultimately, most of my paintings are of things that I find amusing and I think will make my kids giggle.
What is your creative process?
After I have an idea for a painting, I mock it up using my iPad. Once I'm happy with that plan, I move on to the bigger piece. I like painting large work because I can use big, expressive movements to put paint down. I use large brushes to help me avoid being a perfectionist and overworking a piece.
Why LivCo? What draws you to live here and be an artist in LivCo?
I grew up on Conesus Lake and Livingston County has always been home. After bouncing around the country for several years with my partner, Raff, we landed back here to raise our three boys. The pace of life and the beauty of the area is really inspiring.
Where can people find your pieces for purchase?
I have a selection of work at the Gallery in the Valley in Geneseo, Eleven Covington in Perry, Acme Gallery in Canandaigua and I sell work on my website, www.erinhanafinsweeney.com.
Any upcoming projects or commissions you're excited about?
I am preparing for art festival season right now, so I'm making a ton of original pieces to sell at my shows this summer. Locally I'll be at the Corn Hill Art Festival, Canandaigua Lakefront Art Show, and the Clothesline Art Festival.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The community has been so incredibly supportive of me. Lauren Wadsworth and Joanna and Keith Walters were the first ones to encourage me to show my work at the Gallery in the Valley in May of 2021. I still would have found my footing as an artist, but their encouragement meant so much to me and really helped me get started. We've really got a great little community of artists here and it's a really wonderful place to be.