‘Artists can........keep painting even when they grow very old'
Vicki Sullivan is an Australian Figurative Realist artist. Her determination and resilience saw her learn many skills, and travel far, on her path to becoming the painter she wanted to be from a young age.
Where is your current studio? What would be your dream studio?
I count myself very lucky to have my dream studio in our back yard. It is 8 meters x 8 meters. I designed it with very high ceilings so that I can wind my easel up and paint the feet of a very large painting. In my old studio with low ceilings I often had to paint the bottom of the canvas upside down. My Studio also has a giant south facing window to give me ample light which I can control with blinds if I need to.
I gave the lighting a lot of thought and I am very happy with the way it has worked out, using floodlights and downlights and natural light there are many options. The only change I would have liked to implement is for the space to be a few meters larger but building restrictions would not allow it. It amazes me how easily we can fill up a large space so quickly, no matter how big. Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you?
I like to listen to podcasts and talking books as I work. When I have a group of painters over then I have music.
Studio life can lead to isolation; how do you address this/ keep a balance?
I paint all day, afterwards, almost every evening I walk on the beach for an hour or so with a friend. This really blows away the cobwebs and gives me a dose of fresh air. Also, I organize life painting days with painter friends once a month. Getting together for a whole day painting the figure from life with other artists is something we all enjoy. We stop for a delicious shared lunch as well enjoying each other’s company, swapping information and learning from each other. The sharing of information, knowledge and laughter is great for all of us and it has been a fabulous way to get to know these wonderful women.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote which serves to motivate you?
I have a few quotes which make sense to me “Get down to the studio and paint,” “Inspiration finds me working” and “perseverance is the key.” Topped off by “Never stop learning!!!”
How has your style evolved and what contributed to the changes?
Of course, we are all influenced by our teachers and by the type of work we love but I think your own style finds you as you work, it just evolves organically as we learn new things and put them into practice. Our very natures are going into the work and if we just try and do good authentic work high quality work, our style will happen naturally.
Nature versus nurture- do you believe you have inherited abilities from creative parents, do you have creative siblings? Can you identify environmental factors or influences which led to your choices or directions? I had a grandmother who always encouraged us to follow our interests. Her favourite saying was “If a child is interested in something, make sure to foster it”. Nan always made sure that we grandchildren had pens and paper, drawing and painting materials to be creative. My Brother loved wood so she made sure we had nails and hammers and blocks of wood to make things. Darren became a fine furniture cabinet maker; I became a painter. I am sure it was the encouragement of what we were interested in that was the key. My Grandmother was a wise woman. Detail a moment which was the highlight for you, thus far. Winning an Art Renewal Centre purchase award was a major highlight for me. Also last year my work was hung at the European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona in three separate exhibitions by three different curators. For me that was so amazing and I visited Barcelona and got to see one of my paintings in the “Painting today” exhibition. It brought me to tears and I felt so emotional that my work was being recognized in such a wonderful world class Museum beside so many incredible artists work. Follow Vicki!