Step inside the studio with Artist Jacqueline Sullivan – learn how she keeps creativity flowing and where she finds inspiration for her colorful world!
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself and your art.
I have been an artist my entire life. I have always loved abstracts because they give me free rein with color, I am not limited to a palette of something that I am looking at But I occasionally do a landscape, I love flowers and trees and hills and a dark green tree line against a bright blue sky.
Q: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
A: I was depressed. Trying to stop being creative because it was interfering with y “household duties” (as outlined by my, now ex, husband) I thought life would be a lot easier without art. A visiting artist talked to me, she said, you can’t do that, you will never be fulfilled, you will never be “at ease” if you don’t practice your creativity. I went back to painting on a regular basis and the depression lifted. That was in 1988. That one conversation completely changed my life and I was able to give myself permission to be creative.
A: I start most days with admin stuff – answering e-mails, writing class descriptions, making supply lists, ordering materials. Then I have a late lunch and head to the studio. If I am not in the midst of a project, I will often just start cleaning, putting stuff away, and handling all of my creative materials will stimulate my creative juices and I will feel the urge to paint.
Q: Where does the magic happen? What does your creative space look like? We’d love to see some photos, if you’d like to share.
A: I have a basement studio. It’s a horrible mess right now , so sorry, no pics. It’s utilitarian – no décor, just lots of shelves full of paint and supplies and canvasses stuffed into the corners.
Q: What piece of equipment, tool or color could you not live without?
A: It’s a toss up between light molding paste and tissue paper! I love texture and both of these create amazing textures.
A: Everywhere! Sometimes, I love studying the horizon whether in the mountains or at the ocean or even skylines of various cities. It is especially great at sunset when the shadows are deep and things along the horizon become unrecognizable shapes. I also get a lot of inspiration in studying the textures in nature. If you squint at a tree, so the leaf shapes become unrecognizable, the texture is wonderful.
Q: Do you have any routines or rituals that get you into the creative zone?
A: When I enter my studio to work, I have a bell that I ring. That sound signifies my transition from from “house life” to “studio life”. It helps me to mentally let go of all of the things waiting to be done in my personal life and concentrate on my creative life, I also, will occasionally smudge with sage, the smell combined with the bell, really help me ease my stress and relax into creativity.
Q: Does your creativity ever stall? What do you do when that happens?
A: It stalls all of the time. I spend a lot of time looking at art, on the web, in books, in galleries and in museums. I try to keep “feeding” myself with creative stimulation to keep the ideas going. Also, as previously mentioned, if I just start cleaning the studio, the urge to be creative will return.
Q: How does travel inspire your work?
A: Just experiencing new things, new places is so inspiring. Especially if it is out of the U.S! I think we get so used to our everyday surroundings, that they become almost invisible to us. But when we are somewhere unfamiliar, our “artist vision” kicks in and everything becomes a “wow!” and the urge to record that wow someway is strong. /so taking pictures, making sketches, recording our emotional response to our surroundings is all so stimulating!
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: I love seeing a student feeling successful with their work. Seeing them feel good about what they are doing and knowing that I may have had a part in inspiring them to make a piece if art is so inspiring to me! And it sure gets my creative juices flowing! I learn so much from my students! I love the creative interchange.
Q: What are you most looking forward to during this workshop?
A: Everything! I want to make sure that the people with me see all of the beauty of the area. That they look at the beautiful landscape with an artist’s eye and really see its beauty! I want to help them record their emotional reaction to the beauty of Ireland with their art, and even words, if they are comfortable with that. I look forward to being in new places with people whom I have a common interest. It’s an adventure! And, of course, we will have some laughs and good fun!
Q: Do you journal or sketch?
A: I keep several art journals – books that I write quotes and thoughts combined with paint and collage. I have several going, so I can work on another page while one is drying. I use them to experiment with new materials and new color combinations and the blank pages are great for using up leftover paint on my palette.
Q: If you could take only five items to create with while on vacation (not necessarily a workshop – any vacation), what would they be?
A: Sketchbook with watercolor paper in it. Small watercolor set. Waterbrush. Watercolor pencils. Graphitint pencils.
Q: So many of us believe our art can only ever be a hobby. How did you make the leap from passion to profession?
A: It’s not pretty – it was an act of desperation. I was teaching part time and my husband asked for a divorce. I had to pick up the pace pretty quickly in order to survive. Now I realize what a favor he did for me!
A: Nuno felting. I love the look of an abstract painting done in silk and wool.
Q: Any tips for balancing creative time and administrative duties?
A: That’s a tough one. I have been out of balance lately. I think that you need to know your body rhythms and take a cue from that. I know that mornings are not a good creative time for me because I am slow out of the gate and so I try to get admin stuff done in the morning. That also keeps me from getting so involved in a creative project that I never get back to the computer. I keep the two things completely separate I don’t do office work in my studio, except maybe answering a quick e-mail from my phone. That way I keep the duties separate, and that helps me concentrate on what I am doing, and not worry bout what my brain says “I should be doing”. I also try to give myself free time on the weekend, esp. Sunday, with coffee in bed while watching mindless TV.
Q: If you could an afternoon with any artist, dead or alive, who would that be?
A: I’d love to spend an afternoon with Georgia O’Keefe. I love her artwork. But I also love how she kept here surroundings simple, and she dressed very simply, it seemed that she did not let the material world cloud her creativity. And later in her life whe was very independent and focused on her work. And I love that when she was older and couldn’t see, she worked with clay, always being creative even when her body did not cooperate.
Q: Favorite books that help keep the creative juices flowing?
A: I collect creative quotes. I have a bunch of them on my website. Just reading other artist’s words about their struggles to remain creative helps me. This is a lot of what I write in my art journals. I love reading about O’Keefe and Van Gogh. Van Gogh’s letters to his brother are an incredible source for reading about struggles with creativity, trying to survive as a business person and sell your work. The Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is a simple read that is a favorite. I love her humor in talking about the creative process.
Q: Where can we find you and your work?
A:Mostly on Facebook and by subscribing to my Art Tips. Sadly my website is out of date. New one is in the works – that is part of the balancing act! You can subscribe to my Art Tips (a 2x/month tip) on my website at this link: Jacqueline Sullivan or on my facebook business page.
Join Jacqueline in 2018 – Painting the Textures of Ireland Workshop!