PoetsArtists

Collector Focus | Vicki Sullivan

#oilpainting #figurativeart #australianart #realism


Vicki Sullivan richly colored figurative oil paintings aim to convey a sense of positive emotion and feeling to the viewer revealing elements of her subjects’ personalities besides her own. While depicting contemporary subjects, her method is inspired by 19th Century Realism. Her work involves glazing many layers making the colors rich and glowing as if from the inside and it takes several months to complete a single artwork.

Bliss, 2018 | Oil on linen | 29 1/2 × 24 2/5 in

Bliss, 2018 | Oil on linen | 29 1/2 × 24 2/5 in

How has social media come into play with your artwork?

Social media has opened up the whole world artistically. I enjoy many other artists work and being part of a huge artistic community. There are so many fabulous artists I would have never heard of without social media. This enables us to befriend and learn from each other by sharing our knowledge, supporting each other, attending workshops, and finding out about all sorts of amazing opportunities. Being able to share my work with people from all over the planet is exciting and wonderful.

What concept or narrative is behind your work?

I am endeavouring to bring more beauty into the world. That may sound simple and corny to many people but I feel that Beauty has been pilloried in the world of 20th century art for too long. We should no longer feel the need to apologise or feel guilty for wanting to create Beauty in our work and I aim to be part of a Beauty Rebellion.

There is so much destruction happening on the planet, which makes me feel anxious and worried about the natural world, so as my antidote I retreat to my studio and endeavour to create something beautiful to share, because the world needs more beauty.

Windflower, 2019 | Oil and silver leaf on linen | 19 137/200 × 15 187/250 in
Sullivan’s enchanting portrait, entitled "Windflower", is inspired by the Japanese anemones growing in her garden, and by Greek mythology, according to which this flower springs from Aphrodite’s tears as she mourns Adonis’ death. Windflowers are symbolic harbingers of luck and guardians against evil. The silver leaf pattern in the background represents the spiral of life.
"Windflower" draws me because of the striking combination of the model’s gentle expression and the vibrant color palette. There’s an intense yet quiet elegance about it—reminiscent of the masterpieces of the Victorian era—that the artist masterfully captured in the beguiling beauty of the female figure. The ornate background brings this piece decidedly into contemporary times. - Lorena Kloosterboer for PoetsArtists Magazine

Windflower, 2019 | Oil and silver leaf on linen | 19 137/200 × 15 187/250 in

Sullivan’s enchanting portrait, entitled "Windflower", is inspired by the Japanese anemones growing in her garden, and by Greek mythology, according to which this flower springs from Aphrodite’s tears as she mourns Adonis’ death. Windflowers are symbolic harbingers of luck and guardians against evil. The silver leaf pattern in the background represents the spiral of life.

"Windflower" draws me because of the striking combination of the model’s gentle expression and the vibrant color palette. There’s an intense yet quiet elegance about it—reminiscent of the masterpieces of the Victorian era—that the artist masterfully captured in the beguiling beauty of the female figure. The ornate background brings this piece decidedly into contemporary times. - Lorena Kloosterboer for PoetsArtists Magazine

Do you ever venture out of your creative process to try out new things?

Recently I have been incorporating gold and silver leaf into my work. I enjoy the contrast of realist painting juxtaposed with the reflective quality of the metal leaf. It interests me that the viewer is reflected through the leaf into the work, bringing something more interactive and random into the piece.

Also I have been playing around with texture, using a new thicker medium , for instance in the Afro hair of my Bliss series, the texture makes a feature of the hair causing it to become in essence more tactile. At the moment I am enjoying using texture in a moonlight sky.

Explain your process.

I usually begin with a drawing in thin raw umber, to achieve my composition and map out the painting. I then paint my shadow shapes, working from dark to light using local colour, all painted very thinly for the beginning layer. When that layer is dry, I come back for a second pass refining the shapes and colours as I go, making decisions about edges and colour temperature. I use many layers, each layer drying in between. I often take months to finish a portrait.

The first 90% of the painting usually takes 5% of the time and the last 5% of the painting takes up 90% of the time as the refining of the piece to a high level of finish is very time consuming, allowing consideration of every inch of the work. At the end of the day I usually have about 50 brushes to wash, because I use a different brush for each colour to keep my colours clean and prevent them from becoming muddy.

Wild Thing, 2018 | Charcoal on Roma Paper | 16 × 12 in | 33 Contemporary at Artsy

Wild Thing, 2018 | Charcoal on Roma Paper | 16 × 12 in | 33 Contemporary at Artsy

How do you work?

I wake early with the birds and while eating my breakfast I do my internet office work and social media, then I walk down through the garden to my studio, where I spend my days. I paint almost every day for about 8 hours, I break for lunch to keep my energy levels up.

I have a beautiful purpose-built studio in our back yard which I adore to work in. It has a large Indian Carved doors for the entry which was a big indulgence, a huge South facing window, {I am in the Southern Hemisphere} gives me plenty of light.

I begin by mixing up my oil colours, oiling in a fine layer of linseed oil onto the dry linen so that I can work wet onto wet.

I have several paintings on the go at once because I paint in multiple layers allowing drying time in between. I prioritize work which needs to be finished for a commission or a submission.

After washing my brushes I go for a walk on the beach to calm my mind and enjoy the natural environment.