Friday, October 29, 2010

What's Really Underneath the Hood

c. sullivan, oil on canvas, work in progress

The crisp air and distinct angles of the sun in fall harkens back to a time in my youth when I bought a tired looking 1972 MGB convertible. It wasn't my first car but it was the first car I bought with my heart...and a few thousand dollars I had scrimped and saved. That first summer together the car was in a body shop out in apple country. The "garage" was actually an old barn. I would ride out there to check on her often and by fall she was ready to ride. Fresh paint (porsche red no less). Lots of bondo on her sides (body work) and duck tape around her wires in the trunk that needed wiggling to ensure the lights would work.  

From then on I would spend the weekends out on the winding, back country roads and drink in the farm fields and river valleys surrounded by hillsides blanketed with rich color. The air, filled with the competing scents of just tilled earth and decaying wet leaves, would blast through my hair and all my troubles would jump out and be taken away. I was home out there in the farms and hills. They were my refuge. My solace. They seemed to represent permanence and gave me a sense of history needed in a young and quickly passing life. Even the old decaying ones half hidden in the overgrown fields spoke to me.

Now I find myself back out there...maybe for much the same reasons but in a more practical convertible, though she's still fun on the corners. And in the studio I always lean towards painting farms and find I am wanting to paint her barns, too. And apples. And old farm machinery. Things that are red. Old. Leaning. And in so doing I am peeling back layers of memories I forgot I had. And from this is coming a turn in my work. It teaches me that when you have a strong passion for your subject matter it will show through in your work. I'm not sure you can properly capture its soul if you haven't really spent time living in their shadows. 

I am excited to be on this journey and to see where these new open roads will take me and as always remember to spend time feeding your creative passions, too. It is the only way to truly live. Brush on!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Walk and Truly Sea Beauty

Cnidaria Scyphozoa Aurelia by Maddie Sullivan

We were cuddled on the couch watching TV not really noticing the sweet, soothing sound of the waves and the sharp angled rays of the late afternoon sun. It was high tide which doesn't leave much sand to walk on. At least not flat sand I whined. My daughter pushed me and off we went.

We hadn't seen each other for awhile and it was an easy discussion to catch up in between dipping our toes into the bathtub-like sea and commenting on why a peculiar bird stood with it's left leg tucked up inside it's belly and his beak burrowed within it's right wing feathers. So we tried to stand the same way and surely appeared as if we were trying to "walk like an egyptian."

As we made the turn to head back our face's were met with a stiff breeze and we tucked our chins into our necks and strolling more quickly started to notice a fish here and there jumping out of the water. Then a wave curled and the sun revealed to both of us at the exact same time an entire school of fish within it. DID YOU SEE THAT?!? AMAZING!! Look at all the FISH!?! We stood there mesmerized and pointing as our vocal chords made excited sounds on and off.  Then another loud LOOK!?! as we saw a large sand shark lurking just near the break water under the fish and then just as quickly disappeared. We looked at each other and squealed, SHARK!

Mullet Surfing by Maddie Sullivan

After about ten minutes we thought we'd seen it all and started to walk away when more motion caught our attention and this time it was dolphin. Now there are always dolphin on our beach. Usually they swim in small families of three or four but here, today, right there in front of us was the largest pod of dolphin we had ever witnessed. There were at least twenty. Maybe more. Many were doing the job of circling the fish while the others were enjoying an easy dinner. We were again caught in the moment.

We noticed without speaking the way the low setting sun caught the shine of the dolphins bodies as they surfaced, jumped and spun around. The way the water no longer was one color or tone but carried with it the colors of its very life from within. Nothing stays still, energy and beauty and life exploded at us and we knew we were witnessing something truly special and our smiles were as wide as ever. I noted the date. October 15, 2010. Try to remember this date I muttered. It is a good day. It is warm, sunny and life abounds. Drink it in.

We all have those days when our job, be it in its most general sense a teacher or a student, seems to be filled with the mundane needs of human survival and impedes our ability to appreciate the actual moments passing us by. And sometimes, to help us with perspective, we just need to take a walk (and no it doesn't have to be on a beach) to really stop and see the beauty that surrounds us. Love. Light. Life. The openness, breathing in the fresh air and then the ease of it all stays with us as we return to our lives, our couches yawning as our body truly relaxes and we drift back carrying the beauty with us. The yellowfish of life. Walk on!

P.S. I've added a must-watch video called, "Why Beauty Matters" - to the right on my blog. check it out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Join Me In The Sketchbook Project!

Journaling is so therapeutic. The same is true of sketching. Sketchbooks are a place to extend thoughts into doodles, drawings, reference paintings, collage and project ideas as well as a way to capture the look or mood of the day.  I just learned of an art project that involves both and anyone in the world can join in by choosing a theme and a Moleskine book ($25). It's called the Art House Co-Op Sketchbook Project 2011 and all you do is draw and/or write about that particular theme and send it back. I just signed up - you should join me!

This is the fifth year for The Sketchbook Project put on by the Art House Co-Op, a New York City artist co-op that is home to more than 20,000 artists from all over the world and known for putting on large-scale projects that are open to everyone from anywhere as a way of encouraging creativity for both the professional as well as new and emerging artists. The cool thing is after you send back your book it tours around the US (nine cities thus far) with all of the other cool sketchbooks and ends up living in the Brooklyn Art Library where everyone can view it just by looking through the card catalog and pulling it off the shelf. 

A quick glance at the more than 1,100 entries from last year show the door is truly open for interpreting the chosen theme and the only restriction is to keep to the size of the book. Again everyone is encouraged to enter and there are discounts for groups such as classrooms and the like (not restricted to educational groups).  So friends, relatives and fellow artists - here's the nudge, a cool idea and a little thing called a deadline to give ourselves a push to be part of what could build to be the largest interactive art scene to tour the country.  Sign up now and start creating your Sketchbook! Or share this post with others in your area that you think would like to be a part of The Sketchbook Project.