Saturday, December 31, 2011

Feels Like Home To Me

Moving between my summer and winter studios was more difficult this year. Mainly because I was more involved with the art life in the Finger Lakes and stayed through December. In the summer months I participated in two large regional shows and as part of a 4-week artist residency I not only painted for 30 days straight I also drove all over the region taking photographs for reference and slowly felt the smell of the farm lands and the light off the hills and lakes embedding themselves once again into my heart.
I also experienced two long stints on my old stomping grounds, Cape Cod, where I was able to witness for the first time in nearly thirty years the changing of both summer to Fall and then Fall to Christmas - and Christmas on the Cape is truly a Rockwellian experience. And yes, I found it difficult to leave. The fishing boats tied to the wharfs rocking with the tides along with the tapping sounds of the lines on the masts of the sail boats moored in the distant bay rang deep within my very soul. And I can still hear them. This is why I often paint boats, they represent so much more to me. I only learned this truth after a few months of painting alone in my studio when I stepped back to see all these barns and boats and farmlands, even after living in Florida for 15 years this is where my passion lies.  
And now on the eve of another year in the creative life I look forward to 2012 with nervous anticipation as I feel I am at a fork in the road. While I can’t yet put into words what is stirring about between my brain, heart and brush I can’t wait to get back in my winter studio and “let her rip!” I am thankful that I’ve come to learn, sooner vs later, that the joy in life is not only “in the journey” it is more importantly being in the “here and now” and appreciating each day and the time spent with family and friends. 
I thank you for being in my life, for your support and kind words this past year and wish you all the best in life, love and living with passion in 2012!
P.S. While I will try to keep up on my Right Whale Watch blog my Yellowfish Living blog will now relocate to my website at
To contact Christine Sullivan send an email to

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Helen Frankenthaler: 12/12/28 - 12/27/2011

Another of the world's great painters leaves us for the big studio in the sky. RIP Helen, you will be sorely missed but your unique staining process and color field images that you leave behind have changed and will continue to change the art world for all time.

P.S. When I first started studying the works of the abstract expressionist and color field painters I was first and fully drawn to the work of Helen Frankenthaler. I bought every one of her books, started working on much larger canvases and even tried to meet her a few times as she was active most recently in the print workshops at Rhode Island School of Design and in California. I recently found notes of how much I loved one of her large works at MOMA before I was a painter as well as a photo of my dorm room with one of her Boston Museum of Arts posters duck-taped to my cinder block wall. Helen was an explorer with vision and the verve to make it all work. I often imagined she just said damn to all the attention the men like Pollock and Hofmann were getting and decided to simply press on and do her own thing...and press on she surely did. Here are a few of her works in her honor...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thirty Days, Not Quite Thirty Paintings

Porch Line 30 x 40" Oil on Canvas
The clothesline has been in the background of our lives, or better said in the back yard of our lives for generations. For my Community Arts of Elmira artist residency project I took it upon myself to bring them to the forefront, to celebrate their heritage and to capture their differing personalities. Be they quiet, strong, calm or a bit breezy all works were inspired by photographs taken in and around Elmira, NY within the last four weeks. My goal was to take this concept and see where it would lead me. 

My first few paintings were very literal interpretations. I then started to think of the individual clothes on the line as having their own identity - some being flirty, others a bit stiff but when hanging together they appeared much like their owners, reflecting a family of individuals that are hanging strong together no matter what the weather should bring. 

Yet I know that I am just scratching the surface as the clotheslines have now been pullied across my heart and I have many more works just waiting to be set free. Some a bit more abstract, a lot more conceptional and then there's just the landscape painter in me that can't help but combine barns and clotheslines especially after witnessing the large, long Amish lines. So many new directions to explore it's a shame to have to stop at this point.

Many thanks to the Community Arts of Elmira for giving me this opportunity to paint in the wonderful, historic Langdon mansion for 30 days. I have grown to feel a part of its history, however brief it is in the big scheme of things, as well as a deeper part of the Elmira community at large. Here are a few of the works to share and I am forever thankful for having you hang in there with me! <3

P.S. I have also updated my website at

Rest/Run 30 x 40" Oil on Canvas

Harvest Line 30 x 40" Oil on Canvas

Tender Line 18 x 24" Oil on Linen

Yellow Barn #1 20 x 24" Oil on Linen

The Blues Line 30 x 40" Oil on Canvas

Nesting 18 x 24" Oil on Linen

Hey You! 12 x 12" Oil on Linen

Slumber Party 12 x 12" Oil on Linen

Flying Solo 12 x 12" Oil on Linen

Hangin' Tough 12 x 12" Oil on Linen

Childs Play 36 x 36" Oil on Canvas

One Sheet Wonder 18 x 24" Oil on Linen

The Cardinal 48 x 60" Oil on Canvas

Friday, October 14, 2011

48 x 60" work in progress
Two weeks into my artist residency and I am starting to find my way. I've been working on this large piece for the past two days though some say I should leave it as is. Today I also played with mono prints and have three 12 x 12" paintings almost completed. Oh, and a small shipment of new canvas just arrived. I am truly blessed.

To see and learn more about my The Clothesline Project please visit

P.S. And thanks, yellowfishers, for "hangin'" with me while I focus on The Clothesline blog.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Introducing "The Clothesline Project"

Sometimes during the autumnal equinox I feel lost. There's a nagging desire to look back and a tinge of a wanting to return to campus partnered with the visual remarker of time melting away faster than ice in a Florida cooler.  Thus, in the midst of a busy schedule of art shows and helping my parents move, I decided to apply for a 4-week artist residency. This would offer a way to hibernate within my art as the seasons changed and give me permission to "drop off the grid" to focus on my art instead of wandering through more memories than a September can hold.

I proposed to work on a concept I've been toying with since last Spring. I was struggling to finish a landscape painting and thought it needed "something figurative" and considered and began sketching clothing blowing on a clothesline as a way to represent the human image/icon that is a fundamental part of our local geography and local history. It is also having its own rebirth with the green movement and while I didn't end up using the idea at that time it stayed with me. Soon I was driving in and around rural routes of New York state in search for these elusive clotheslines and especially ones with actual cloths on them. And after a few dozen shots I new I was on to something...

And I guess the folks at Community Arts of Elmira agreed as I was awarded one of their new visual artist residency slots! 
The Community Arts of Elmira was an idea born by a small group of dedicated creatives in the summer of 2005 and fiscally supported by the Cornell Cooperative Extension until 2007 when it came into it's own 501(c)(3) and swiftly found a benefactor who purchased and donated the 1840's Langdon-Pratt mansion to be her permanent home. It was in need of much repair and over the past four years more volunteers arrived, spending their weekends manically bringing the old building back to life while offering art, poetry and other events, performances and classes to the community. 

What an honor it will be to spend the next four weeks within these walls. I will dive into the Clothesline Project first somewhat literally and give it time to breath and take on its own life and see where it leads me. I plan to explore new techniques and experiment not only with oils, but also printmaking, collage and sculpture. Please feel free to stop by to say hello, bring along some hot coffee and check in on my progress. I will also resurface online from time to time and post a few updates and let you know when the two required presentations will be in October. I feel both blessed and motivated to...brush on!  Yours in the creative life.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Season of Change

The  evening sun lays patterns in my house. Small yellow, glimmering shapes dance across my wood floors. I hold the moment. It is the pause before the turning minute hand. The last breath of the day as it breezes through the trees. It is the memorable porch conversation before death. And it's held together by the voices of the birds as they slow their language and lower their tones. A mourning dove coos in the distance. A dog barks once from a few blocks away and I hear a few more answer across the air. This is the slowing down of the day. 

And it is happening at a time when mother nature typically cracks open the door to Fall and nudges us with a cool breeze and flips a few leaves to orange. Except this year she shoved summer out the door via Hurricane Irene. So we say Goodnight, Irene to the summer of 2011 and reflect on what summer brought us.

For me there were many road trips through the farms and fields of New England, up the mountains and aside rivers of the Adirondack National Forest, up and back to Rochester and Olean for some fabulous art shows and of course to Cape Cod and back, leaving me with hundreds of inspirational photographs, a full plate of painting ideas and a studio filled with small paintings that I've been working on - some since June and about a dozen from the plein air festival last week in Saranac Lake. I am working on them all as well as a few new pieces I started last week as I push to finish my summer's work. 
I was able to confirm, as if I needed it, that I am a studio painter. Not a plein air painter. Although I thoroughly enjoyed being up in the mountains again and am the better for being outside painting and painting with my best friend - I am meant for the studio and anxious to get back to it. 

As the kids move back into their dorms at Elmira College and my daughter shares the joys of settling into her first apartment in Florida I am relating well and feeling like another chapter is about to begin for me, too as I move into a new studio space. Yes! I have a new, larger studio space outside of my home that I am able to use for a few months. It is a wonderfully large space that was once a commercial storefront with high ceilings and the tall walls I prefer to paint on and big windows of light. Perfect! I feel certain this place will not only help me weather the next few months but possibly help me turn the corner within my current season of painting. 

I hope you too experienced a relaxing and growing summer. One where you discovered a few new things about yourself, your own work, your true and personal passions. And if not, what better season to examine what's next than the Fall. 

Yours in the creative life. cs

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Art Of The Art Show

An artist prepares for an opening reception like most prepare for a job interview. It's necessary work and part of the job but once you get there can be a little uncomfortable. Especially for a show you've never been involved with before. I mean the over-arching concept behind the art show is twofold....1) to get your name out there and 2) to sell your work.  Or at least to help the gallery sell your work. So after the paintings are dry and the last nail goes into the frame and the signing and gentle handling and delivering is done you put on your business and marketing hats and help the gallery promote the show. Especially since the Memorial Art Gallery marketing folks kindly used one of my paintings to promote the Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition on their website and then watched as this same painting was picked up by every local newspaper as well as their online counterparts for two or three weeks leading up to the event. So goal # 1) getting my name out there? Check!

At the opening reception there were a few road blocks but this was good news for the gallery as they had an enormous turn out (over 1,700 people!) which carried with it such a high energy level that you could feel the positive buzz running rampant throughout the buildings. But for some of the artists, especially those from out of town, it was difficult to introduce ourselves to other artists and do the usual meet and greet with the patrons and members and next to impossible to stand by your work and so you do the smart thing, relax and enjoy yourself! So after we had a chance to see the rest of the work in the show we soon made a bee line for the drinks table and went off to explore the rest of the gallery since it was my first time visiting this old and large expanse of quality architecture filled with an impressive collection of art. "Five centuries of world art," that is.

We were enjoying the wandering nature that the layout promotes and worked our way to the other end of the building and impressed to find a remarkably large, historic, theater-style ball room with cathedral ceilings made of wood, a band playing up on a grand old stage and below them people were actually... dancing! I was told this used to be the student union of the University of Rochester "back in the day" and that now it was part of the gallery and used to hold weddings and other grand functions. Amazing. Then I was pulled aside to meet someone - the Gallery Director, Grant Holcomb! I was impressed how he quickly connected my name to my art and he was trying to tell me something about one of my paintings yet the music was loud and I thought I heard the words sold and boat painting but I politely nodded my head, shook his hand and off he went. After which we quickly huddled and decided to head for the Gallery Store to see if we could learn if indeed any of my work had sold.

And yes, the Gallery Store was also crowded but the people were eagerly waiting to see the show price list and did seem to be in a buying mood. At first glance my two paintings were still on the wall and neither had the universal gallery sold sign: the red dot. Then I ran into the store manager, who I met the day I dropped off the work, and asked what Grant may have been referring to and she said yes, the small pink boat painting, "Race Point" sold! So goal # 2) to sell your work? Check! Check!

You can't ask for a better ending to an opening night. Great job and a big thanks to everyone involved at the Memorial Art Gallery. But now, and between us, you must know that I head home not with the after-glow of an art show opening but instead with the thought, "I just want and need to keep working and allow the paint to show me what's next." Brush On!

 P.S. There was a wonderful example of a Fairfield Porter landscape at the gallery.  As well as a number of great 20th Century American pieces including a Hoffman, Frankenthaler, Albers and others. If you are able to visit the "MAG," as the local Roc folks call it, I highly recommend it. In the meantime, here's a link to their site: Memorial Art Gallery - Rochester, NY

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucian Freud: 12/8/22 – 7/20/2011

Another of the world's great painters leaves us for the big studio in the sky. RIP Lucian, you will be sorely missed but the marks you leave behind have changed and will continue to change the art world for all time.

P.S. I studied Lucian's work intensely during my portrait painting master class but when I saw his work in person last Fall during Art Basel...I was mesmerized. His work is stunningly beautiful, especially his nudes (aka his nakeds) which seemed to rise above all else. His brush work, mark making and paint application spoke volumes as to his love of paint. Here are a few of his portraits to share in his honor...

For more on Lucian Freud and his work here's part 1 of his documentary found on YouTube. Brush on!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exciting Summer of Art Shows Begins July 23rd

If you were to ask me a year ago if I'd be entering let alone being accepted into any of the upcoming biennial art shows in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of New York State I'd have just shrugged my shoulders while half listening and continuing to paint. Entering art shows wasn't on my radar screen. I mean, I had just left the corporate world and re-entered the art world that January through a chance meeting with a great group of art mentors and instructors who tossed me a new brush and pushed me head first into an entirely new medium: oils while introducing me to the work of the abstract expressionists. And there I was, just putting in my time. Painting.

After a number of ups and downs and interruptions I was able to settle in and soon increased my work ethic, consolidated my learning, focused my goals and expanded my studio to accommodate larger canvases and by the time 2011 began I literally dropped off the radar. The result produced a number of pieces that are now either sold, hanging in galleries or being accepted into some prestigious art shows. While amazingly motivational and humbling of course  I feel I'm just getting started and don't want to get ahead of myself. But it is good to be shown once again that hard work does pay off. And this time I'm also learning to take the time to enjoy the moments...and the parties!

Speaking of which, a very nice party is coming up on July 23rd in Rochester, NY. Details are below. Hope to see some of you soon! But for now, I need to get back to the studio. Brush on!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cy Twombly 1928 - July 5, 2011

Another great one leaves us for the big studio in the sky. 
RIP Cy. You definitely left unique marks on the world.

For more information on Cy's life and art visit Cy Twombly biography as well as