Fight in the Museum: 12 questions with artist Sean Carney | Six09

Sean Carney is a prolific painter. He paints what he knows, the cities he lives in, the shore and the places he has visited. His paintings are honest, familiar and accessible. He uses a wood staining method that he himself perfected. It uses bright colors and changes the perspective a bit. He looks at things from a slightly different angle.

Carney teaches art at Lawrence High School. He’s also one of the hardest working artists I know. Carney is also known to be a burger lover.

What do you communicate with your art?

My paintings are all about positive energy and good memories. I find it therapeutic to focus on the good times in life and revisit those times through my paintings.

You work in an unconventional medium, please briefly explain the process.

I create my paintings using only Minwax Water Based Wood Stain and sometimes a Dremel engraving tool. I’ve painted with just about every medium and Minwax stain is by far my favorite, it’s so wonderfully versatile. Honestly, I can’t imagine painting with anything else.

How did you get started with this method as opposed to conventional oil or acrylic painting?

I have always had the desire to create with alternative mediums. I have worked in restaurants since I was 15 and used to create paintings with coffee, tea and eventually wine. I had a professor at New Jersey City University (Ray Stadtlander) who used to say “if it stains your teeth, it will stain the paper”. Now I only paint using Minwax Water Based Wood Stain, which I discovered while remodeling my home about 13 years ago.

What fight/struggle do you have regarding your art?

The art world can be an exciting and rewarding environment, but it can also sometimes hit you in the face. You have to be brave enough to take a beating and keep moving, no thin skin allowed. I hate to hear that famous statistic that only 1% make it in the art world, I think that phrase creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who knows, 98% might give up after a few rejections.

How often do you paint?

I would say that I paint between 3 and 5 hours a day around 340 days a year. I think that’s a very fair estimate.

Do you do commissions locally?

My biggest commission in Hamilton was for Robert Wood Johnson Better Health Center 2021. I created a painting of the interior of the new construction and did a live paint session to complete the painting for their grand opening.

I also recently completed an order for a Hamilton family of Joseph Slavin Jr. for his 91st birthday.

Your colors are so vivid. Do you see the world in these brilliant colors?

I think my colors are just a reflection of how I feel, I tend to be a pretty positive person. Life is Beautiful.

Where can we see your work?

Currently my work can be seen at The Atrium Gallery in Morristown as part of Morris Arts, The Euphemia Gallery of Spring Lake, The Spectrum Gallery, Essex, Connecticut, and online at The Shops at Princeton Magazine and my website.

What’s the most fun about being an artist?

I feel the painting process is like a form of meditation, I believe this is what leads to my overall positive feeling.

What is most satisfying about teaching art in high school?

The best part of teaching is meeting all these wonderful people, I’ve never had a student I didn’t like. Some of my students are now in their forties, so it’s a pleasure to see them grow into adults.

Where are the best burgers around?

My family and I love going out for burgers, we really like Rossi’s and Brookwood Café for burgers.

What’s on the horizon? What are you looking forward to?

I have big shows coming up that really excite me. I will be returning to the D&R Greenway Land Trust in Princeton for an upcoming exhibit called “Space to Dream” in March. I also have a two-person show scheduled for 2023 at the Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery in Princeton and a three-person show at the James May Gallery in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I’m pretty sure other exhibits will pop up as well, I like to make myself very available.

Sean Carney on Facebook: seancarneynj. Instagram: carneystudios.

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