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Cool Abs...Edgy Art Exhibit

September 3rd, 2015

Cool Abs...Edgy Art Exhibit

This is one of 12 paintings by Mary Sullivan which will be shown in the COOL ABS...EDGY ART exhibit from September 3 through November 1, 2015 at the Gallery of the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island, SC. This is an exhibit with 13 abstract artists, including paintings, sculpture, collage, photography, and assemblage.

Mary used poured/dripped inks with scattered gold dust, only moving the inks with a palette knife. She calls it "SHIFT"-- do you feel the shift, peaking out into the universe?

Exploring Time and TImelessness

June 1st, 2012


The conventional wisdom is that ink as a water medium would not stick to waxed paper; however, when I used waxed paper along with other resists, to create patterns and shapes in previous paintings with permanent inks, some of the ink penetrated the wax and left layers of lovely translucent colors which I could not bear to discard.

Months later, as I began to study these papers, they started triggering my imagination with the realization that I could form shapes with the simple tool of a scissors. I remembered that Henri Matisse, when he could no longer paint with a brush, began creating cut outs during the last 15 years of his life. He considered these his final artistic triumph -- ”cutting into color!” as he called it. Matisse had found a solution to the age-old conflict between line and color and painting and sculpture—one that would greatly influence future artists.

“The drama, scale, and innovation of Matisse's ... papiers coupes (paper cutouts) remain without precedent or parallel. His technique involved the freehand cutting of colored papers into beautiful shapes, which he then pinned loosely to the white studio walls, later adjusting, combining and recombining them to his satisfaction. The result created an environment that transcended the boundaries between conventional painting, drawing, and sculpture. Later, the shapes were glued to large white paper backgrounds ....” The National Gallery of Art (1977)

I call this exhibit “Time and Timelessness,” since the works began with my first paper “cut out” called “Keeping TIme Dancing for Joy.” It reminded me of a dancing “figure” moving along with some timeless, joyful melody and led me to explore the abstract concepts of time and timelessness using three different techniques: 1) the direct process of creating images by cutting into inked wax paper; 2) the direct process of cutting or tearing pieces of dried acrylic scraped from my acrylic palette; and 3) the indirect process of painting with poured inks.

Having got “the cutting bug,” I formed images by cutting shapes freehand from the inked papers, working on a smaller, more intimate scale than Matisse. Then I moved to cutting or tearing pieces of dried acrylic “skins” which had been scraped off my acrylic palette and saved over the years because of their wonderful layers of often shimmering colors. These acrylic images appear even more sculptural, almost in the form of a very low frieze, or “bas-relief.” Finally, I turned back to pouring inks, using a limited palette of three to four colors and various resists.

Another inspiration is abstract expressionist painter, Paul Jenkins, who emphasizes the value of a “white ambience” to the primordial force of color and encourages painters to embrace open space. I became enamored of the “color” white surrounding the images and the negative shapes formed by the cut and torn edges -- white, the color that contains all colors of the spectrum. I experience the white ground as giving an impression of forms floating in timeless, limitless space, almost coming forward and receding simultaneously, like a breathing surface.

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One example of Matisse's cut outs is Nu bleu I (Blue Nude I), 1952 
“Gouache-painted paper cut-outs stuck to paper mounted on canvas 116.2 x 88.9 cm (46.5” x 36). This two-dimensional work gives an impression of being in the round. As an heir to Cézanne, Matisse regarded blue as a colour expressing volume and distance. The gaps indicating the articulations of the body, while unifying the fragmented parts along the contours, gives the whole the effect of a relief. Lastly, the simplification of the forms recalls the stylisation of the body in African sculpture, which Matisse had collected since early in his career. The body seems to assume form deep inside a limitless space, which gives it a monumental character. Like the other four pieces in a series produced in 1952, Nu bleu II returns to a pose - arm crossed behind the back of the neck, leg bent in front of the torso - often used by Matisse.... The series Nus bleus can be seen as the culmination of a deeply reflective investigation of the figure in space which occupied Matisse throughout his life. See

Slide Show

March 21st, 2012

Art Prints