Cindy Sullivan by Aries Matheus
Cindy Sullivan is as honest and energetic as her artwork. Often using music to inform her hand, Cindy uses a multitude of mediums, including oil paints and digital drawing platforms, to depict the purest of emotions - the joy of a little girl swinging, the intensity of a boxing match knock-out, and the provocative playfulness of Elvis Presley performing.
The emotionality of Cindy’s work both dictates and is dictated by a soundtrack of thoughtfully selected songs which began with the King of Rock ’n Roll, Elvis Presley.
“I think maybe internally I have music in me, but absolutely no musical talent. I feel a song or a musician can totally transport you...in so many different ways,” Cindy said. “One night I drew “Elvis” while listening to his music and drew until dawn! I realized that was the most fun I ever had.
”The drawing beckoned Cindy to make it larger-than-life just like “The King” himself, so during the summer of 2015 Cindy painted a six foot Elvis in her garage while listening to his greatest hits.
This spurred Cindy's habit of going to coffee shops to draw oil pastel portraits while listening to the playlist of a musician who moved her. People began to notice and appreciate the vivacity and motion in Cindy’s work for which she came to be known.
“People would say to me, ‘I love the “movement” in your work.’ I realized, why not build upon it as a strength?,” said Cindy who began to focus on subjects that embodied movement such as athletes, musicians, and children.
Beyond her natural talent for capturing vivacious subjects, Cindy has another even more personal relationship with movement, which she explored during an Urban Walls Brazil sponsored art talk she gave.
“I met Roberta through mutual friends in Annapolis. She reached out to me to take part in an art exhibit at The Commons in 2017 which Urban Walls helped sponsor,” said Cindy, who continued to say that “Urban Walls both helps bridge communities together and gives public exposure to the arts to those who may not have had such opportunity.”
During her art talk, Cindy spoke on the juxtaposition between the stable movements of her subjects and the difficulties brought about by movement such as Cindy’s traveling to live in five different states and creating art with an essential tremor in her hands.
“Having only moved to Annapolis in August 2016, speaking at The Commons was a great way to connect with some of the community and share my passion despite any obstacles of various moves or a physical disability” said Cindy, who continued to say that the essential tremor “proved very challenging when I first began painting and even using digital tools, but I have learned to make it work FOR me. This is why my hashtag is “Joy in Movement”—little play on words!”
After learning to use her personal experience with movement to progress her artwork, Cindy took the spontaneity and fleeting nature of actions to the next level with something she calls “Live Drawing Sessions” where she draws a live scene in real time on her iPad.
“There is a different kind of energy in capturing people live in movement, but a challenge I like taking on for the kind of attention it requires. I need to make very fast decisions and change course often depending on the conditions at hand,” said Cindy, whose most notable art is created during Live Drawing Sessions to capture the movement and essence of hundreds of live bands in Annapolis while they perform. “For example, someone can decide to block my view, people can come and go, but it has such an authentic candidness to it that it is worth it.”
Cindy equates the connections made during these live drawing sessions with those created by Urban Walls Brazil. “Like Urban Walls, I believe it invites a cross-section of viewers which might never happen in a traditional art exhibit environment.”
Before Cindy developed her style and fell into a rhythm she had only explored art informally.
“I have drawn on and off since I was a child, but attempted painting as an adult in 2003. I started with one painting class at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, never expecting it to grow into such a passion.” said Cindy, who used her passion to fuel the growth of her technical talent. “By the time I moved away from Florida in 2007, I felt I had enough skills and confidence to continue my artistic path when relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada. I took undergraduate classes in art at both the community college and university level before completing the MFA program at UNLV in Drawing and Painting in 2013.”
During Cindy’s time learning technical applications of art and practicing the practical applications of the skills she learned by completing live drawings, Cindy found the nexus of why art and movement are so passionately entrenched in her life.
“Life itself “moves” me - seeking to elevate the ordinary in ways that inspire others,” Cindy said. “We need to put the wonder or color into our days, our lives, and I believe art is one of the ways we infuse such meaning.”