chasing a dream
Artist chases coastal scenes in journeys on I-95 by Mackenzie Tewksbury
Down Easter III, 22 x 28 inches, oil on canvas.
Hideaway, 16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas.
WBM june 2019
THERE’S a moment right before
you wake from a dream that
artist Mike Rooney strives to
You’re not really awake, but
you’re not still dreaming, either. All you can
remember is the good parts of the dream.
“The sweet spot,” as he calls it.
Not quite the abstract expressionism of
Jackson Pollock, but not quite the realism
of Bob Timberlake; Pollock paints like you’re
asleep, Timberlake like you’re awake, Rooney
says. He’s somewhere in the middle.
“I want it to be almost reality. I want you
to look at it and say, ‘Oh, that’s a beach
house with a dock in front of it with some
shimmering water and some sailboats on it,’
but I don’t want to tell you that. I just want
it to be a sweet sensation of that,” he said.
“Almost a dream. But not so dreamlike that
it’s not succinct.”
It’s not real. But it’s not fake, either. His
work of mostly coastal scenes pushes
boundaries and plays with colors and ideas
that might not usually go together — like
tones and hues of purple on grass — with-out
a stroke ever looking out of place.
The longtime Surf City resident has always
loved the beach, and though his subject
matter often changes, coastal themes remain.
From the Atlantic Seaboard’s salty air to the
Caribbean’s turquoise waters, he plays with
light on water, boats, beach houses and
shorelines. He’s recognized up and down
the East Coast as one of North Carolina’s
best plein air (outdoor) painters, and he
got his start doing that on the streets of
Wilmington down by the riverboat Henrietta.