Mary Sullivan is a painter from Gloucester, MA. She has a BA in Art History from Tufts University and a MAT in Art Education from Tufts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She works primarily in oils, with a focus on portraits and landscapes.
In a world where darkness and hopelessness seem to surround us, I choose to focus my attention on small beautiful things: an old stone wall, the face of a good friend, or a brilliant sunrise lighting up the sky above a highway. Perhaps this approach appears naive. How can something small and commonplace be of any value in the face of the giant injustices around us? I would argue that in times like these, small beautiful things are the only things that are valuable, true, and real.
I am an art teacher, and in the past 8 years of teaching elementary and middle school art, I have witnessed my students persevere through horrendous circumstances and seemingly insurmountable difficulties. A simple thread has run through all of these experiences: the small beauties and joys that sustain us, though they may seem trivial at first glance, are far more powerful than the hopelessness that accompanies great tragedy and loss.
My goal as an artist is to find that golden thread of hope, beauty, and light that runs through our day to day lives, and paint it boldly enough so that everyone might see its strength. I paint in oil, acrylic, and watercolor. Though my style is representational and fairly detailed, the specificity of my paintings is not photo-realistic. Rather, I seek to evoke a particular feeling. The crumbling dampness of a canal in Venice or the startling luminescence of sunlight after a storm become a conversation on the canvas or paper: light, color, and the viscosity of paint combine to tell a story of a singular moment. Much of my work is painted from life, with the aim of capturing the freshness and immediacy of a real lived experience.
We need more beautiful ordinaryness. We need more reminders to stop; to listen; to look closely at what beauty already surrounds us. In these uncertain and distressing times, it may be the most important thing we do.