Thursday, July 21, 2016

Starting Up A Brand New Day

Brand New Day 20 x 24" oil on canvas
It has been close to a year since I've posted, a year filled with a lifetime of changes that thankfully, after a six month dry spell, has me back in the studio and excited to see where this transition leads.

It started last May, just after my birthday. I was excited to be back on the Cape for another intensive 3-day landscape workshop with Anne and Cynthia Packard in Provincetown and time to visit with my dad. I then ferried over to Nantucket for a week-long plein air painting workshop with Thomas R. Dunlay. The weather was exceptional, as was the company and I returned to my Elmira studio tanned, refreshed and began diligently to finish up and deliver new works for several upcoming shows.

In August I returned to the cape for my featured artist / solo show at Oils By The Sea / ROCCAPRIORE Gallery in Provincetown and stayed another week to relax, paint and visit with Dad. Then it was back to New York for the Finger Lakes Exhibition at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY where I was asked to give an artist talk in early September. This was followed by another group show in Olean, NY.  So you see in a few short months I had traversed New England four times, the great state of upstate New York six times, received several awards, gave my first artist talk and learned I was accepted in Vermont Studio Center's residency program. My art life, you could say, was abuzz! 

That is until mid-September when I woke from a deep sleep to my cell phone buzzing in circles on my bedside table. I fumbled to grab it, saw it was 3AM and the call was from my dad's assisted living number. I bolted upright. It was my 94 year old dad saying he had a bad night of pain and hit the wall emergency button and the EMT's were transporting him to the Cape Cod hospital. I remember mumbling, "Okay, okay Dad. Thanks for letting me know. I'm sure you'll be okay. I will call the hospital in the morning. Okay, love you too." 

Hammock Shop 18 x 24" oil on canvas
 My head fell back to the pillow. My thoughts racing. He sounded pretty good, his mind was still working well...and yet he asked me to call my older brother who lived in Boston. I barely slept. There were tests and xrays and calls and waiting but quickly learned it was a small intestinal block causing all the pain and a simple surgery was needed that day. The surgeon said it went better than expected, my dad was doing extremely well for his age and soon he was up "walking the hallway." I was in the car driving to the hospital when they said he was doing so well he was being released that afternoon and to meet him at the rehab center.  Feeling relieved that he'd be okay and seeing he was in good hands and seemingly his normal self I checked into my hotel and collapsed. That night another call came. He could not eat or drink and was sent back to the hospital. I will spare the details but leave it to say I stayed another three weeks and my dad passed on October 10th. I was by his side.

It would be several more weeks before I was able to return home, stunned by all that happened. Taken aback at the grief I was feeling thinking that since my dad was 94 I'd be prepared for this loss!? Then I closed up my Elmira studio and headed down to Florida for the winter. We were slow to unpack and I was dreading the holidays when at Thanksgiving we learned of the tragic death of our niece. Too much to process. Filled with overwhelming sadness and disbelief I just wandered through the holidays in a daze. And I still did not paint. 

Sometime in December I called the Vermont Studio Center explaining my situation and asking if I could move my February residency to another month. I had not touched a brush since July and didn't want to waste the opportunity. A woman on the other end of the phone was very patient and saved me with another option, "You know... I'm happy to help you find another month but this is a wonderful place to just come and be with your thoughts. There's no pressure here. All your meals are taken care of. You're surrounded by other artists and you can meditate and be alone if you'd like and use it as a time to help you through this transition in your life. It may be just what you need." I hung up the phone in the same manner that my head had hit the pillow after my dad's call. Thoughts racing. Maybe this would be a good idea? I decided to go.

My experience in Vermont deserves it's own separate blog post but for now let me just say it changed my life. At first when I returned to Florida I simply spent time thawing out (average temps in VT were often below zero) yet I knew something had shifted. Everything I looked at was speaking to me. Blades of sea grass bending in the breezes grabbed my imagination as the pitch in the language the birds hurling across the brush made me stop and search for them while the shifting colors of the sky and sea were churning around me.  The connection between all living things was at once evident and I went into my studio and started painting. These were healing works. I first needed to work on new Cape 'scapes for my upcoming new season and show in Provincetown which was a good way to pull me back. I often cried and felt guilty if I was feeling joy. I often stumbled as painting after a six month dry spell feels similar to when you go back to the gym. It hurts. It's not easy. The muscles aren't like they once were and the results aren't there as quickly as in the it was often frustrating! I had to look at the notes I taped on my studio wall, notes I wrote to myself in Vermont that say, "It's okay to be happy" and "If you're not struggling you're not learning." And listened to Sting's "Brand New Day" in my headphones like I did in Vermont because my only goal while there was NOT to paint like I do at home, search for what's next. Explore. Play. Find the joy again.

Love Song 12 x 12" oil on linen
This is what painting does, for me anyways. It takes you along. Walking you through internal thoughts and memories, often times feeling both pain and joy. Making mistakes. Figuring out solutions. A connected conversation of sorts. So when I got a text from the gallery owner in Provincetown, a few weeks after delivering new work, saying that one of my new paintings had just sold? I stood still. It was my birthday. The painting was one created from memory of a place my family vacationed at as a child on Cape Cod that I titled, "Love Song." And I couldn't help but think it was my dad sending a message. And it shook me awake like a call in the wee hours. But this time it was happy news. Thanks, Dad.

/yours in the art life.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


In The Dunes 18 x 24" Oil by Christine Sullivan
August, boy August on the Cape. As young children it was simply paradise. Our last grasp of summer before school, a way to hammock ourselves and yet alive with the possibilities of what was ahead. And how appropriate that it is the same window for my first solo show on the Cape.
Please join me for my opening reception
437 Commercial Street, Provincetown MA
In our family, much like many of you, our parents would pack up the station wagon to the gills and make the trek from Syracuse to the Cape the first two weeks of August. We'd stay in the same, small cottage in the Nauset Heights area of East Orleans known as the "Blue Shutters" and owned by Mrs. Hopkins. Complete and unplugged it sat on a spit of land with the Mill Pond, a salt water tidal pond, on three sides. It was where the salt air and the salt water meet and became my center. 

Harbor House, 20 x 24" c sullivan
And while the "big beach" surf of Nauset was the main attraction during the day, it was the quiet moments back at the cottage when we were left to ourselves that I remember most. Alone, down at the  edge of the Pond pulling clams from the mucky sand earning my .50 cents a dozen, or out rowing around the Pond while my brother snorkeled for and speared small crabs, even as I sat on the stone steps outside the rickety screened kitchen door shucking ears of corn for my mom, hearing the Bob White calling in the distance, I somehow, even then, knew. It was all around me as my tanned arms pulled at the green husks. Seeping into that place where we go when things get tough, as they surely would, becoming my Bell Jar. I was seven years old. And it is there when I open a tube of paint. Back once again I go. The pink of the late evening sky above. The tips of the sea grasses bending in front of me. The quiet of the purple beach heather, almost whispering as the tide slowly shifted with a gull overhead.

Of course I have had these experiences as an adult. After I grew out of the summers with my parents I returned alone to live and work on the Cape. Then my parents moved there for twenty-five or so years. My mom returned to her landscape painting, my dad to his 18 foot sail boat on Pleasant Bay. Knowing full well that none of this would consider me a native but my fifty year relationship may stand as an acceptable close second, at least for some. My nights on the bar stools of the Land Ho! well set. But it's always the childhood memories that are the strongest. That I pull from. That joins us all. Especially while painting. 

This was never more evident then during my last workshop with Anne Packard and her daughter Cynthia Packard this past June. We were standing there. On Ms Packard's deck. About ten of us. Busily setting up our easels and paints with little to no small talk. Looking out at the Bay. The Pier. Wondering what we would stare down and attempt to capture and hearing Anne and Cynthia making the rounds...when a brisk wind brought with it the sharpness of that familiar combination of salt air and low tide (which my best friend still refers to as "dead fish!") and my heart lept. Literally. And I was brought back…to those summer days…that love. The sea. The boats. 

Provincelands 30 x 40" Oil, c sullivan
I have about a dozen paintings in this show all of which are Cape images. Oils By The Sea / ROCCAPRIORE GALLERY is located on the East End of Commercial Street and is owned by long-time local artist & film producer Shirl Roccapriore. The history of the location is deep as it was once home to a strong Portuguese fishing family that drew their livelihood from Cape Cod Bay and the surrounding waters. Later it became Harvey Dodd's gallery (1933-2011) for decades. I couldn't feel more honored to be represented by this high quality gallery and to have a solo show here in August. 

Come join me Friday, August 7th for the opening reception. The gallery is located directly across form Ciro and Sals Restaurant and next door to The Mews Restaurant so it's easy to find and to make a night of it! And if you are not able to come see the show in person please visit the gallery website at

All the best! /c.

P.S. While you're in P'Town be sure to pick up a copy of the Provincetown Art Guide magazine and check out my full page ad. 

437 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Three's A Charm: Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition

It was both exciting and challenging to work on this, my first attempt at melding my present painting process with my cartographic past. As it was to learn that "Finger Lakes Geomorphology" was juried into the 65th Rochester-Finger Lakes Biennial Exhibition. This years juror was Michael Rooks, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Atlanta's High Museum of Art, who chose 68 works by 46 artists from a field of 920 entries by 330 artists - thus I am honored to be in such good company. This will be my third appearance and is largely credited for launching my professional art career.

It is also exciting as this was a bit of a departure for me. The base of the painting is a "map" - harking back to my geography/art degree and early days as a cartographer on Cape Cod - describing the locations of the eleven long and narrow lakes that make up the Finger Lakes. But it was the energy of the earth event that created these lakes, about two million years ago, that shaped my painting process. As did the human interaction and migration as the sense of place evolved. There are nods to the early towns and villages, the salt mines, open farmlands, recent vineyards, the NY State Thruway - but it is more personally an example of my love of paint, rocks and of this region. One that I hope will lead to a bend in the road in my own painting journey.

The exhibition opens with a reception on Saturday, July 25th from 8pm - 11pm.  There will be live music (including a large dance band in the grand ballroom), a drinks and dessert bar and the museum is open so you are able to stroll through five centuries of world art in a marvel of architecture. 

Memorial Art Gallery is located at 500 University Ave, Rochester, NY. I will be lecturing here during the exhibition on Thursday, August 27th at 7pm and the exhibition ends September 13th. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Artist of the Year - An Exhibition Filled Weekend!

What better way to end my reign then to see it go to my friend and fellow artist, Jan Geyer, The Gargiulo Art Foundation's Artist of the Year 2014. After several months of experimentation in the abstract, Jan is now a figurative painter with expressionist tones and over the past year has been working diligently at her craft and exploring new directions. First there was the Harold Garde Strappo print making workshop. We took this one together but it was Jan that truly fell in love with this Garde invented print-pulling-off-glass process and then developed it in a way that uniquely showcases her deft drawing skills. Then there was the award of a 4-week artist residency at the renowned Vermont Studio Center this past August. It was here that she fell back in love with painting the figure and came back inspired and worked diligently over the Fall finishing an expansive and impressive body of more than forty new figurative works. These will all be on display at two exhibitions / awards shows this weekend. Here's the rundown, and you'll want to attend them all:

Tonight, Friday, Jan. 9th, 6 - 9PM
The weekend tips off when the Gargiulo Art Foundation hosts the Artist of the Year Exhibition at Salvo Art Project's gallery at NatureScapes Nursery (313 Old Brick Rd off Rt 100 just two streets west of Belle Terre).  Salvo's tall ceilings and studio-surround atmosphere is the perfect backdrop to experience about a dozen of her fresh figurative paintings and Strappo prints. It is also a great place to relax on a Friday evening with friends and enjoy the art and open studios of other local artists. Add to this the live music in doors and the gardens of NatureScapes outdoors where you can sit next to a warming fire-pit and enjoy a glass of wine under the night sky and it all makes for a memorable evening.

Plus, many of the former Gargiulo Artist of the Year recipients will be there - Linda Solomon, JJ Graham, Weldon Ryan, myself, Peter Cerreta, Jane Sbordone and Edson Beckett - and it's a great way to support the arts in our community as a portion of all sales of Jan's work goes towards the Gargiulo Art Foundation's Art in Public Places program here in Palm Coast. And Salvo asks for a $10 donation at the door to support funding improvements to this large structure currently housing studios for eleven local artists. The celebration kicks off at 6pm.

Saturday, Jan. 10th, 6 - 9PM
Then on Saturday Geyer opens her expansive Studio at City Marketplace (located next to the Walmart plaza) allowing us to experience an intimate look at her work space and process as well as nearly thirty additional new works, some of which were born during her awarded four-week residency at the Vermont Studio Center this past August. Jan's studio is on the balcony level of City Marketplace, just a few doors down from the Flagler County Art League's Second Saturday community event. The mayor of Palm Coast will be on hand with Tom Gargiulo and Arlene Volpe for the award presentation. Her studio will be open from 6 - 9PM.

[Speaking of Tom Gargiulo and Arlene Volpe I continue to be amazed at the amount of hard work they continue to put into their Foundation's Art in Public Places within our community…even during a scary year of health issues...and naming one local artist as Artist of the Year helps bring attention to individual artists. I can tell you from my own personal experience that this one award, received last November, acted as a slingshot for my professional art career (and I can't thank them enough). ]

Jan's work is also part of a show which opens this Sunday at I AM ART/RACHEL & FRIENDS Gallery in Hammock Beach called "SHE: The Figurative Feminine" - celebrating work by and of women. This show opens Sunday, Jan 11th, 4 - 7PM. The exhibition also features works by local artist Diana Gilson and Kate Miller and includes several resulting works by students of Kate's figurative class held there. The gallery is located at the "Pink" building on A1A north, next to 386 Restaurant. This "Sunday Soiree" event kicks off at 4pm. 

Hope to see you at one or all of these events this weekend! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Plum Contemporary Gallery Grand Opening Friday

After months of hard work by owner Karen Sheriden and her fine staff, Plum Contemporary Gallery will be holding a grand opening celebration this Friday, December 5th starting at 5PM and the public is invited to enjoy contemporary art, live music, fresh food and drink by area vendors and meet the artists. The new location at 10 Aviles Street is just steps across historic Aviles from its prior location and yet has twice as much space and dramatic tall ceilings to showcase an increased number of works while losing none of its creative and personal approach to art appreciation. 

Please join me in what is sure to be a special evening. /cs

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5th / 5:00 - 9:00 PM
10 Aviles Street, St. Augustine, FL

Tomoka River Morning, 40 x 30" Oil on Canvas

In The Mid-Season, 18 x 24" Oil on Linen
Riding High, 12 x 12" Oil on Linen

Friday, October 31, 2014


Come join us at the grand opening of THE SALVO ART PROJECT - a new artist co-op nestled within the old Florida beauty of NatureScapes Nursery in Bunnell, Florida. 

The interior layout of this two story barn-like structure was designed and built out by artists John JJ Graham, former director/owner of Hollingsworth Gallery, and Petra Iston to house studios for 13 area professional and emerging artists. 

Saturday, November 1st / 5PM - 9PM
Grand Opening & Art Exhibition
Old Brick Road, Bunnell, FL
(off Rt 100, 1/2 mile past Belle Terre on the left)
Live music starts at 6PM. $10 Donation at the door. 

The outer circle of studios each have their own large sliding glass doors with views of the gardens and tall Florida oak trees and the inner circle is where you'll find the gallery of contemporary art. 

SALVO ART also holds after school and summer camp classes for local area children and offers several adult evening classes - go to SALVOART.ORG for more details on the artists, classes and upcoming events/exhibitions or call 386-871-9546.

Moving in day. Notice the floors are painted, there are walls to paint on (my preference vs easels) and we each get these amazing, large glass doors that open to and bring in the surrounding gardens, nursery and old Florida landscape. 

The view and central Florida oak that stands right outside my glass doors. As Anne Packard said to we studio artists in her landscape workshop I took this past June in Provincetown, "you must paint from life!" So now I have the best of both worlds - all I have to do is step out!

Monday, June 2, 2014


Province Lands II, 30 x 40" Oil on Canvas

Summer is almost here and, feeling blessed that I was in Florida during one of the worst winters the North has seen in twenty-five years, I have moved into my Elmira studio and am preparing to head to my "home away from home," Cape Cod. This will be an exciting trip as I spend quality time visiting my dad in and around Orleans, drop off a car full of fresh paintings to my newly signed gallery, OILS BY THE SEA in Provincetown (more below), paint for three full days in a workshop led by America's premiere landscape painter, ANNE PACKARD (and her highly acclaimed artist/daughter CYNTHIA PACKARD) then hop on the ferry to Nantucket for a few days of plein air painting with Boston Painter TOM DUNLAY. What a whirlwind and yet I am so excited. And thankful. I will try to post my progress or I may wait until after. Either way and until then, may you have a joyous spring and I hope you are able to find inspiration to fill your creative side - be it painting, gardening, cooking, writing or just holding on to the now and seeing, really seeing the beauty around you. Brush on!
FRIDAY, JUNE 6th, 6 - 9PM
If you are in and around the Cape this weekend the galleries in Provincetown hold a "First Fridays Art Walk" and I'll be at Oils By The Sea Gallery during their 6pm - 9:30pm reception. This fabulous gallery is tucked amongst what is known as "Gallery Row" at the East End of Commercial St. and is owned and operated by the talented artist, Shirl Roccapriore. In addition to showcasing her own work, Shirl represents four artists all with ties to the Cape: Christine Sullivan (painter), Jim Broussard (painter), Sally Brophy (photography) and Dawn Zimiles (encaustics). And if you can't make it, please stop in this summer and tell Shirl I said, "REE!"

Oils by The Sea Gallery
437 Commercial St. 
Provinctown, MA

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Harbor House 24 x 30" Available at Roan & Black Gallery
When you are painting an image of a place you well know, the process, as with Harbor House, often seems effortless. I'd been planning to paint this structure for some time. It seemed a beacon from the past, the Cape Cod I knew as a child, strongly standing ground out in East Orleans. It is at the end of Tonset Road near a landing with a small turn about. A spot I drove to with my plein air painter friend, Lori McCall, last Fall while scouting painting locations. We stepped down the few stairs to the harbor waters, taking in the bright dingy's tossed against the deep marsh grasses and watched as a fisherman headed out through the narrows, and decided it would do nicely. After a few hours of struggling with the transition of painting in the out-of-doors, I needed to regroup. I took the few steps back up the landing and in so doing looked directly at this house. It was then that its quietly familiar standings and weathered grey shingles grabbed my shoulders from a place back in time, and I, quite startled, felt the immediate and strong need to paint it. However, the good light would soon be lost and I was leaving the Cape the next day so I took several photographs, jotted a few notes and made a small sketch. And there it stayed, like those memories, on the shelf of patiently waiting.

Fast forward to two weeks ago when, here in my Florida studio, deep into the painting process, I opened a drawer and there it was - starring at me.  I knew it was time. I pulled up a clean canvas and dove in. Almost immediately my Cape experiences began to pour from my brushes. I remembered all those vacations as a child where six of us would squeeze into a two bedroom cottage and spill out in the early morning air to walk by the Mill Pond as our parents packed up for another day at Nauset Beach. I remembered we would pull ourselves up onto similar porch chairs with the traditional blue and white stripes and how the mix of stone and sand felt beneath my tanned, bare feet. 

Several hours went by when, feeling I was close to completion, I pealed it off my easel and hung it on my studio wall to "cure"- giving it the necessary time for the thick paint to set and me time to stand back and see what it needed. That next morning I noticed it held a strong presence and, after a few small changes/additions, I knew it was ready.
Concurrently, I just signed on with a new gallery, Roan & Black in Saugatuck, Michigan. Roan & Black is owned by two, very passionate and savvy guys who completely transformed an old mechanics garage into a successful gallery. It is a bold, fresh contemporary space located in a beach town known for its commitment to the arts. Saugatuck, a small city on Kalamazoo Lake just around the bend from where the Kalamazoo River meets the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, is similar to the Cape with its boating culture, stunningly broad beaches, vast dunes and fields of billowing beach grasses. It is also at the center of "The Art Coast of Michigan."

So it dawned on me, while looking at Harbor House and thinking about how I had just shipped several paintings up, that maybe this one would also work in my first group show with R&B called "STRUCTURE" opening this Saturday, April 19th. The response I received after emailing the image was a resounding, "YES!" and three days later the painting left my studio for the 1,158 mile journey to Saugatuck.

I quietly left the UPS Store thinking about how quickly this painting went from a place in my heart, to the canvas and now on to Saugatuck. It was then that I heard the last line of Casablanca. You know, when Bogart says, while walking into the dense fog, "Louie…I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." And realized how wonderful it is to be able to send a part of ourselves out into the world.


A collection of six artists working 
in oil, paper, clay and mixed media 
and how structures inspire their work

SAT, APRIL 19th, 6:30- 9PM

Roan & Black Contemporary Gallery
3315 Blue Star Hwy, Saugatuck, MI

© 2014 christine sullivan

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Wonderful Art Weekend!

Original by Linda Solomon
Dear Friends - This is a wonderful weekend to be outside - not only to enjoy the warmth of Spring here in the Hammock, but we have three days filled with special art events that kick off this afternoon (Friday) with a one woman gala show and sale at Le Cose Belle and rolls right to the launch of the FLAGLER ART & WINE SHUTTLE on Sunday! 

Here's the details, hope to see you out and about! 


Friday, April 11 / 4 - 7PM
A One Woman Gala Show and Sale
A special evening at LE COSE BELLE GALLERY in the Hammock featuring the work of Linda Solomon. Linda's work will fill the walls of Le Cose Belle as well as a good portion of my studio space next door. Come on out and enjoy some light eats and wine as well as the contemporary art in Rachel Schiff's gallery, "I AM ART/RACHEL & FRIENDS."
Le Cose Belle is located in the Pink Building next door to 386 Restaurant and across from Paul Baliker Gallery on A1A. 

Saturday, April 12 / 6 - 9PM
Jan Geyer, William Mazziotti, Robert Mielenhausen, Harry Messersmith
A Gargiulio Arts Foundation Sponsored exhibition held at HOLLINGSWORTH GALLERY as part of their "Second Saturday" community art event at City Marketplace, 160 Cypress Pt Pkwy. Plus, stroll down to the Flagler County Arts League Gallery for their Spring Show and you'll also see the original oil by Linda Solomon that is being raffled in support of her cancer treatment expenses.
Sunday, April 13 / 12 Noon - 6PM
A One Woman Gala Show and Sale
This special event continues on Sunday at LE COSE BELLE GALLERY in the Hammock with a mamosa brunch from noon to 2pm with outdoor seating and a special "trunk sale" of Linda's works.

Sunday, April 13 / 2 - 6PM
Then, things really get rolling at 2pm with the launch of the 
That's right! Sunday afternoon from 2pm to 6pm there will be a comfortable shuttle bus making the route on A1A between Flagler Beach's OCEAN BOOKS & ART and LE COSE BELLE GALLERY in the Hammock with stops at the following galleries:
The Balker Gallery
Le Cose Belle Gallery and Boutique
Christine Sullivan's Hammock Studio
I AM ART / Rachel and Friends
Hammock Wine & Cheese
Art LaMay Gallery
Ocean Books and Art
Down By The Sea

Tickets are $10 / $15 per couple and can be purchased online at (simply type in "Flagler Art and Wine" in the search menu to get to the event page) or in person on Sunday at the Adult Educational Center in the Hammock or in Flagler Beach at the site of the Farmer's Market. NET PROCEEDS GO TO THE UNITED WAY'S WOMEN'S INITIATIVE FLAGLER to benefit women and children in need. For more information 386-693-4882.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

JJ Graham Paintings

Petra by J.J. Graham, Oil 2014
Here we are, in the bleak mid-winter. But hard at work, with his unique abundance of light and color, is artist John (J.J.) Graham. Typically working at making other artists look good at his Hollingsworth Gallery in Palm Coast, FL, Graham has been feverishly painting the past month and now it is his turn to shine. 

Tonight we celebrate the paintings of John J.J. Graham with the opening of his solo show at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, FL.

Daytona Beach, FL


JJ's expressive style, which has been evolving over the past twenty years or so, continues to prove that great paintings are really born through a love of paint and the not-so-easy process of blending your true self into and onto the imagery. Most painters tend to shy away from revealing too much, but those who dig in and excavate, pour, scrape and spill it all on the canvas, are typically those whose raw paintings we can never get enough of. And these new paintings don't disappoint.

I stand in his studio and watch his incessant pushing and pulling of the brush, leaving short yet determined strokes, followed by J.J.'s "pause and paws" approach. This is where he paws at the paint and pauses to look at the surface before diving in yet again. Then there's a full body turn as his left foot pops up while his right arm comes down quickly layered by a more graceful, almost wand-like move with a scrappy looking piece of charcoal and bam! Images appear, lines form, he travels in it, around it and allows it to come alive - almost like he is letting something out or waiting for it to knock him over. Sometimes this happens in minutes, others take days and weeks - but always his paintings are living and breathing testaments to the workings of an artist who paints without fear and has built a style that is uniquely Graham. 

When looking more closely at his paintings you typically find nuggets of both information and detail along the sight-line. Be they texture or a color shift, you soon learn, while holding a glass of wine and slowing down to really inhale the images, there are other worlds living within, behind and alongside what first captured your eye. Not unlike J.J. himself. The depths and caverns not always on the surface. And we see, when looking at both the artist and the work, that this is the out pouring of someone whose life is dependent on the canvas, on the process of painting and is obsessed with paint. 

Come discover these new works in person and meet the artist tonight at the Peabody Auditorium which is just north of the intersection of International Speedway Blvd and A1A along the beach. There is plentiful parking, light eats, and wine and is free and open to the public. Come on out. You just may find yourself taking one of them home.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from The Hammock!

Hello and Happy New Year! Just a brief note to say thank you for continuing to support my art life. It has been another wonderful year of growth and exploration and I have met many new friends and collectors along the way. My wish is that you are able to spend more time in 2014 fulfilling your passions, seeing more of the beauty in the world and discovering it within. And that you and your loved ones have a healthy and happy 2014.

I am kicking off the New Year with a show which opens this weekend at The Hammock Gallery in Palm Coast. The gallery is part of the Hammock Wine & Cheese Shoppe compound, set under a canopy of trees on historic A1A (N. Oceanshore Blvd, north of the toll bridge and across from the Publix plaza) and operated by warm and wonderful people who not only have a passion to bring you delectable cheeses and introduce you to bountiful wines but they also bring in LIVE MUSIC every weekend and original artwork each month. I mean, where else in Palm Coast can you spend happy hour sitting outside with your friends enjoying wine in a colorful garden setting (or indoors if it gets too chilly) listening to great LIVE music and taking in the art?!

All the best for the coming year. /cs

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Post Show Blues? Head to Miami!

Jim Dine (American b. 1935), Summer XI at Alan Cristea Gallery Booth
Coming off a solo exhibition leaves me with opposing emotions. First, my heart is filled with gratitude for all that have supported me thus far and to my family and friends who have put up with me during the past few frantic weeks.

And to all of my existing and new collectors who purchased my work during this show  - Thank you, thank you!

Yet, privately, a post-show blues effect has been settling in. Thoughts of "now what?" enter my brain and the paint brush seems further and further away from my hand. "Do I keep painting the way I have been or do I keep pushing myself to find out what's next?"  The answer of course lies in just getting back in the studio but even better how about taking an ARTIST ROAD TRIP! That's right, it's the first week in December and that means it's Art Basel / Art Miami week! 

I, and four other painter friends, made the four plus hour drive to Miami Beach two years ago and it forever changed me. It was like visiting my favorite NYC museums and galleries only times one hundred and doing so over two and half days.

First, you're in Miami Beach. Art Fairs abound, the sun is warm, the azure ocean calm, the restaurants are abuzz. But then you enter Art Basel and/or Art Miami and you are worlds away. You wander from gallery to gallery, your heart pounding and overwhelmed with emotion as you get up-close and personal with the works of your favorite artists. Then you round a corner and see a 12 foot tall Rothko or a fourteen foot wide Kirkeby and you feel like you have just died and gone to heaven. So you sit down, enjoy a glass of wine with a salad that sets you back 20 bucks, rest your feet, compare notes with what others have found then get back out there. All the while your brain is filling with fresh ideas.

What a great way to re-engage the mind and art spirit before the upcoming three months of production work and shows. Maybe I will see you there? /c.

You can learn more at these links:
Art Basel - Miami Beach
Hyperallergic's Essential Guide to 2013 Miami Art Fairs

Friday, November 8, 2013

Art Show Press: A Learning Experience Part II

Part 2: As I said in the prior post, there is so much that goes into an art show, especially a solo show, and typically the last thing you think about is the press interviews. Here is interview/article #2 by Pierre Tristam of

The interview was intense, starting from childhood and going to present-day yet it was the way the questions were raised that had me connecting my own dots and pondering for days afterwards.  The best learning from this one was about scheduling your time. It took place between 6 and 8PM after a long day of hammering and wiring more than 30 of my paintings. But hey, the article is very generous and I am thankful for the support and assistance and coverage Pierre so generously gave me. Enjoy! 

At Hollingsworth Gallery: 
Christine Sullivan, Artist of the Year
by Pierre Tristam, Friday, November 8, 2013,

You can spot a Christine Sullivan painting from a mile away, and not only because many of her works intentionally place you at that remove from their characteristic subjects: the far-away barn, the lone boat, the undulations of seaside dunes, the slumbering cove, a shoreline farm seen from above, like those Google satellite maps, but with Milton Avery colors, and of course, especially in her more recent paintings—the works at the heart of her solo exhibit opening at Hollingsworth Gallery Saturday—the clotheslines, the recurring clotheslines that are like her earthbound version of boats’ masts and riggings. The signature is distinctive.
The sparseness is evocative not of distance or isolation but of intimacy, of something as familiar as the feel of a favorite blanket in winter. Sullivan’s sceneries are the continuation of life by other means: memory and geography and nature, “that feeling that when we’re alone, we’re not alone,” she says, echoing the words of Ann Packard, the Cape Cod painter whose lone, empty boats recur as often as Sullivan’s clotheslines. She is reflecting, she says, “that unspeakable feeling when you’re painting, when you’re off by yourself, taking a look at the ocean, you’re in the environment, you’re in the landscape. There’s this feeling that we’re all connected, and I think that feeling comes from that feeling of connectedness with the earth and all living things.”What you don’t see is people, animals, the clutter of living, noisy things. It appears to be all absence, as if Sullivan has a thing for neutron bombs, the kind that eradicate life while leaving everything else intact. But there’s nothing desolate about what you’re seeing, certainly nothing sad or mournful about it. You want to keep looking, and you do, sometimes at the same painting for long periods, because it draws you in. The colors are understated. The seduction isn’t.
The intimacy doesn’t stop with the scene on the canvass. Sullivan’s technique, the occasional drafts of drawings still visible beneath the paint, the cuts in the paint, the intentionally unfinished look—no landscape is ever finished, after all—bring you into her studio. That connectedness again.
What’s less discernible is how recent Sullivan’s mastery of oils happens to be. At 56, she’s spent most of her life either surrounded by art in a family of artists or practicing it in one form of another, even through her work as a cartographer and, from the mid-1990s until just a few years ago, as one of the creators of the Golf Channel in Orlando, where she oversaw all branding products, including advertising in all media. She’s also been a prolific writer, a keeper of journals, a poet, a blogger. But it’s only after she retired and permanently moved to Palm Coast in 2009 that she took up oils. It happened as she took one of JJ Graham’s very first classes at his then-nascent Hollingsworth Gallery, as she started dropping in there once a week, then twice, then three times, then daily, then rented a small span of wall where she could paint every day, and did, then a studio of her own in back of the gallery, and then, and then.
“Show up. Isn’t that half the battle?” she says. She’d married, she’d held job after job, she’d raised a daughter (now in college). She now took on life as a full-time artist, painting seven days a week, starting at 10 or 11 and not finishing until 6 or 7 in the evening. With long breaks previously, she’d painted for years, but never oils. The 35 oil works on display in her Hollingsworth show are all from the past four years, and most are from the past two, the result of her faintly obsessive work ethic but also of her close association with Graham, the teacher who now realizes that a graduation of sorts quietly took place somewhere along the way. “She has the right attributes and the right work ethic,” Graham says, “so much so that at this point I don’t consider her my student. She’s my contemporary.”
It helped a lot that Sullivan’s evolution took place during the richest part of Hollingsworth’s young life, when it was itself a Cambrian explosion of artistic talent—with Graham, the late Richard Schreiner, Linda Solomon, Bill Brant and many others fuming up the place, several of whom taught at Hollingsworth. Sullivan soaked it all in. It’s paying off.
Saturday evening, with Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts and many of her artistic colleagues present at Hollingsworth, she will be recognized as the 2013 Gargiulo Art Foundation Artist of the Year. Schreiner was the recipient in 2012, posthumously.
“My first emotion after I heard the news was to be following Richard Schreiner to get this award the year after he got it was—I mean, I just bawled my eyes out in the car and called Arlene,” Sullivan said, referring to Schreiner’s wife, who lives in Palm Coast and has also been an intimate friend of the Hollingsworth community. “It’s a humbling experience certainly when you look at the artists who have received the award. But to follow Richard: I’m hoping he had something to do with it, even though his was certainly overdue. I’m certainly not the caliber of artist that Richard was, but there’s certainly a bond that we had and a dear friendship.”
Schreiner’s work—dark, acidic, wry, politically engaged, exuberantly angry, often reveling in the unnatural—is everything Sullivan’s work is not, though the two artists shared that happy coexistence that Hollingsworth made possible. They had this in common: they were both as emotional as they were intellectual in the way they approached their work. True to the inviting intimacy of her method, Sullivan illustrates that approach in her blog. Take this segment from a July posting about “Turo Lighthouse,” one of the works in the new exhibit:
I arrived at the studio early this morning and read a bit of my Joseph Albers: To Open Eyes book and turned to look at where this painting was up till today. Covered in two, possibly three session’s worth of bright blues, greens and peach colored paint. Ugh.
Two days ago I was so mad at where it was going I just tossed it in the corner and painted a few others. Rather successfully I might ad. So this morning I decided I needed to remind the painting just who was boss (chuckle) and finally it hit me. My color strategy was entirely WRONG and the foreground had to change.  
Christine Sullivan's 'Turo Light.' Click on the image for larger view. (© Christine Sullivan)
Christine Sullivan’s ‘Truro Light.’ Click on the image for larger view. (© Christine Sullivan)

I went to work, first at the palette, developing a new family of warm, earthy colors and a few new greys, and then got to it. For the next hour I painted, changing almost every inch of the 24 x 30″ canvas and then, breathing, I stepped back and smiled.
The archetypes are all there: the distant lighthouse, the earthy colors, the fence (replacing the clotheslines or the riggings), the absence of anything like a human figure. Sullivan was a geography major and an art minor in college (Plymouth State University in central New Hampshire, where was attracted by the skiing opportunities). That absence of human figures only speaks of the pervasiveness of “this sense of place,” as she terms a theme central to her work. “It is so much about the relationship that we all have, not just with the land, but with all the people that share this land. Then it just spills over into all living things. It’s that connectedness that inspires me, and I think is the foundation of my work. It could be just the landscape, or that’s where the clotheslines come in, or the telephone lines. You know that a man or humans have been in this environment by some of the marks that I have in my work, and some of them are intentional and others just seem to happen.” Like the wind swelling the sheets on one of her clotheslines, a literal breath of life—a spiritual breath if you like—that visually captures life’s momentum Think of Henri Bergson’s √©lan vital, or “current of life,” powerful and irrepressible.
'MacMillan Wharf (P'Town),' 2012. Click on the image for larger view. (© Christine Sullivan)
‘MacMillan Wharf (P’Town),’ 2012. Click on the image for larger view. (© Christine Sullivan)
The human element is never an intrusion. It immerses her scenes by its very absence, in the same way that the landscape’s unceasing changes do: you don’t see the changes taking place in front of your eyes, you can’t, but every scene speaks of that change. Sullivan explains: “We think land is our constant and yet it’s the opposite because land is always eroding and evolving and growing, right? Because it is a living thing. And then there’s this parallel with us as humans that—so are we, much like our lives. We have this history with the land, and it gets passed through by generation and generations. This essence of local geography to me is important in that I think I found that by painting.”
She’d lived her first years at a farmhouse outside Syracuse in New York, then in a suburb of the city, spending parts of every summer on Cape Cod and never knowing then that the years would have as deep an imprint on her understanding of the land as they would, as they do in her work. That’s the memory at work in the paintings.
“The word geography to me,” she says, “it’s that definition of our relationship with the land, and its relationship to us. That happens through folklore, it’s local history as well as just from what we do, we carve out a piece of this earth and we call it home. That becomes imprinted upon our soul because that’s what we identify with. That sense of home is so much more than a house and family. It’s all these colors and the environment of the land around us, the folks that feel about the purple mountains in Arizona and have that special relationship as we do here with our ocean and our sunshine, these wonderful skies that we have.”
And somehow that sense of place converged literally and artistically towards Hollingsworth.
“Of all the gin joints I walked into, did it just happen that I happened to walk in here? And then to meet Richard Schreiner? Then to take a class with Richard? Then with Brant?” Sullivan says. “Hollingsworth is this magnet of some sort, it has drawn all of us who have a desire to be with other people that see the same things and feel the same things that we do. All of our art work can look different, and please, I hope it does, but we all have this common ground. And JJ is right at the center of that.

'Harwich Marshlands,' 2013. Click on the image for larger view. (© Christine Sullivan)‘Harwich Marshlands,’ 2013. Click on the image for larger view. (© Christine Sullivan)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Art Show Press: A Learning Experience

There is so much that goes into an art show, especially a solo show. From chosing the work to the details of signing, wiring, framing. Add to that helping to produce an exhibition catalog, price list/brochures and then...the press interviews. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about why I paint or what I paint but when you are interviewed you are forced to address these and other questions. Here is the first article printed/published by the Palm Coast Observer.
See you Saturday, Nov 9th 6 - 9PM

Artist of the Year: Christine Sullivan
by Shanna Fortier

Christine Sullivan sat in the classroom at Hollingsworth Gallery last week looking at the wall where she temporarily had hung two pieces for her upcoming show — the same wall that was her painting space just three years ago when she began taking classes with J.J. Graham.

“This is where it started,” she said, looking around the room. “I never had any vision about where I wanted to be; I just wanted to learn. The journey is always about getting better.”

And learn she has. Sullivan has been selected as the 2013 Gargiulo Art Foundation’s Artist of the Year.

“I can’t find the words,” Sullivan said. “It’s such an honor — to be in the same pool with other people that have received this award — I’m excited, I’m joyful. To get work seen by more people is really exciting, but to get your work acknowledged is off the charts.”

Sullivan is a fourth-generation painter. Her house growing up was filled with art — prints of the masters and the work of her great-grandfather.

“Art was always in my blood,” she said.

She went to Plymouth State University for two reasons: to ski and to study art education. While in school exploring silk screen print making and 3D-sculpting among others, Sullivan fell in love with geography. She changed her major five times, but eventually ended with a degree in geography and an art minor.

“As a painter, geography is the focus of everything I do: the relationship with the sense of place and the people that reside in it — people and the land," she said. "The land has an imprint on us.”

Sullivan worked in the corporate world but took up watercolor painting after having a baby.

“I found that if I did it every day, it was so good for my soul,” she said of painting. “What’s funny is I quickly found that I had a style that was unique to me.”

Her living room was her art studio, and she was teaching her daughter to paint, until one day it wasn’t fun anymore. In 1999, she packed up painting all together and didn’t touch a brush again for 10 years. She retired and moved to Palm Coast in 2009, which is where her story with oil painting begins.

Sullivan’s inspiration to retire and begin panting again came from her mother, who had retired to Cape Cod and became a successful painter.

“I saw what joy it brought to her,” Sullivan said while fighting back tears remembering her mother who died last year. “She would be so proud of me.”

Graham is also extremely proud of his pupil. 

“She fell in love with learning how to paint and not being an artist,” Graham said. “She buried herself in the studio for a year, and she would show up and ask questions and then rush to her studio and do her own experiments. She wasn’t concerned in showing work yet. That is, to me, why she succeeded.”

Sullivan calls her style "representational abstract." She explored a lot of abstract, but kept coming back to a small bit of reality. She had to have something there to recognize.

“There’s that feeling when you see a painting that looks familiar,” she said.

While most people would classify her work as landscape painting, Sullivan stressed the sense of place.

“We mirror so much in relation to the earth,” Sullivan said, referencing the tides and the animals that migrate through our land. “All of this, I think, is connected, and that’s something I try to touch on with my paintings without putting it so literally.”

Her colors come from her heart. The grays, greens and whites are the colors that she sees every day in the beach community. 

What started as a hobby for Sullivan to supplement a retired life of golf and the beach has turned into a second career.

“I paint every day,” she said. “It’s no longer something to do to keep me busy. It’s something to do that helps me breathe.”

Tom Gargiulo said the foundation took a risk this year by choosing Sullivan, a young, up-and-coming artist, for the top honor because previous Artists of the Year have had decades of experience.
But Sullivan said she is not done yet. 

“My goals are usually day-to-day, just to continue to grow and get better,” she said. “Let’s enjoy the party and then let’s get back to work.”
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