NC impressionist Mike Rooney exhibits at Sunset River

We’d like to welcome Mike Rooney to the gallery. His style is strong, loose and colorful. Mike is known for his deceptively simple paintings of complicated scenery – whether it be a coastal boatyard, a marshscape or an bustling city scene. Please come by to see his work. You won’t be disappointed!Mike Rooney, besides being one of the most affable, outgoing artists around, is also considered one of Eastern Carolina’s top impressionist painters. We had him here at Sunset River Marketplace earlier in the year to teach a plein air workshop, which was hugely successful. Artists admire him for not only his signature brushwork, but also his basic approach to composition.

Mike Rooney painting en plein air

He has studied with well known plein air painters John Silver and Rick McClure. Working in both acrylics and oil, Mike loves to show the effect of light on water, boats, and the beach environment from the salt marshes of Cape Cod and rugged coast of Maine, to the mangroves and turquoise waters of Key West.  He prefers painting outside to a comfortable studio. Bugs, bystanders and bad weather are just a few of the inconveniences he endures to capture the colors and nuances of his coastal subjects.

The Virginia native recalls an early interest in art – even as a child, a passion that has continued all through his life. He studied art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond before joining the armed forces. The Air Force brought him to North Carolina, and after three years and a tour in Korea, he opened a sign business in Goldsboro, NC. During these years, his fine art interests took a backseat to building a business and raising a family.

Mike rediscovered his passion for painting after seeing California style impressionism in one of his surfing magazines. He was instantly hooked. His previous style had been tight and realistic, but what he saw in the surf magazines left more to the viewer’s imagination. Details were left out, and the style was loose and exciting to look at. So Mike picked up some oil colors, a canvas and a few books on plein air painting.

In one of those books it said: “To become a proficient plein air painter you should try to block-in one hundred paintings in less than three months, even if they can’t be finished.” Mike did the hundred “starts” as they are called, and ever since then he just can’t seem to shake the habit, even now creating over 150 finished paintings in a year.

Mike Rooney Artist Statement

I love to paint. I love to capture the essence of a three dimensional scene in two dimensions. It’s my passion.

Mike Rooney, Hilltop Cottages, 30x40, oil
Mike Rooney, Hilltop Cottages (portion), 30×40, oil