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Participant Information

Edmund Sullivan


My first exposure to art was watching my mother paint. Then in college I met Angela, an art student from Massachusetts College of Art. I remember going with Angela to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum during the winter and feeling as if I had ascended to the heavens.

It never occurred to me that I could produce art until 1972, when I cut through Jeanne Johns' art class. Jeanne became irate at my short cut and let me know it. In turn, I became irate and did a drawing to show her I could draw also. That began a friendship that still exists today.

From 1972 to 1976, I entirely drew in pencil - mostly portraits. In 1976, I began painting in oils and took painting courses at Massachusetts College of Art. By the early 1980's I took Marcel Duchamp's advice of making one's life a canvas. I worked with mentally retarded adults, tutored children, owned an ice cream store. I married Nina and had two children.

During the mid-eighties to the mid nineties, I painted rather sporadically. When my daughter Isabel was five, she found my French easel and paints and asked me to paint her a picture. Then my son, Blake, asked me to paint for him his favorite scene in Hinesburg, Vermont. So, if you like my work you owe it to my children who started me seriously painting once again. In fact, children influence my work greatly. I worked as an instructional aide in the Hinesburg Elementary School and in the Charlotte Central School, both located in Vermont.

The only critics I have ever paid attention to is the students of these two schools. The students helped me see the wonderment of landscapes. They taught me to slow down and look closely at what was in front of me. They taught me the beauty of watercolors. Before my Parkinson's stopped me from painting outdoors, kids would pick up a brush and help me paint my canvasses. I owe to the students of these two schools thanks for teaching me to see the beauty of God's creation. Taylor showed me where the fairies lived in Mt. Philo and hopefully in the two paintings I did of Mt. Philo I capture some of their magic. Most of my work has this similar thread running through it, the influence-advice-and help of children. For example, the painting of "Jeanne Johns Painting in Winter" should list Isabel, Hilary, Dorn, Blake, Nina and myself as the painters for we all painted it.

With the progression of my Parkinson's syndrome, I have learned to paint from photographs. However, it must be of a scene that I can visit for I must interact with the motif. As for how long a painting takes, anywhere from 2-4 months to several years. For me, THE GOAL OF PAINTING IS TO DEVELOP ONE'S OWN, UNIQUE LANGUAGE.