The 2019 art[squared] Fundraiser will feature the work of three local artists sold through silent auction.
Richard Sullivan was a ballplayer before he was an artist - or was he an artist before he was a ballplayer? Both talents are accepted as inherent abilities; that to excel in either requires hard work, but to be really good requires you to be born with some ephemeral spark of ability.
Sullivan combines the two worlds in his subject matter: “My sports watercolors are directly linked to my past as a professional athlete. My goal is to convey the intense focus and concentration of athletes at the highest level of competition. I draw from my past experiences as a former professional pitcher to harness the emotion of each moment that I portray.”
Which might beg the question of how far does personal experience take you as an artist instead of observation. I’m sure Sullivan does not shirk on the latter, but he also knows the feeling of the pull and balance when the left leg ascends to its peak just before the pitcher unfurls that fastball, or the very specific cock of the shoulder before the batter swings.
But Sullivan, as most Kentucky painters inevitably will, has recently turned his attention to horses, so we can more accurately weigh the kineticism of his approach, the spontaneity of his marks, all of which make his work look deceptively easy.
“I convey action, movement, and emotion through loose brush strokes and expressionist watercolor style. I have learned that watercolor is really about letting go. Each painting that I create requires the same amount of concentration that it took for me to pitch in a game, but after every successful painting I receive the same burst of energy and awareness. My hope with every painting is for the viewer to feel the same connection between art and sports that I do.”
“I have found parallels between painting and pitching that I would not have known existed until I was introduced to watercolor. When on the mound, once the ball would leave my hand, I would have little control over what would happen next. The same is true for watercolor. Every time I place a brushstroke, I have little control once it is on the paper. Just like facing a new opponent, each painting has new challenges.”
His work has been accepted into the permanent collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Yogi Berra Museum and exhibited by the Louisville Slugger Museum and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Over a dozen Major League Baseball players, including Tom Glavine have started collecting his work. Coca Cola recently commissioned him to create a special 75th Anniversary painting for USO.
In 2017 the Atlanta Braves commissioned Sullivan to create 18 original watercolor paintings and 20 prints for their new stadium SunTrust Park. The paintings line the corridors of the Champions suite and the Executive Offices. The Atlanta Falcons commissioned Sullivan to create a portrait of their owner, Arthur Blank, that hangs in the owner’s suite of the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Sullivan is a member of the 2019 Hadley Creatives Class, an initiative from the Community Foundation of Louisville.
In April Sullivan will be showing at Craft(s) Gallery. Horsepower: The Latest Works of Jeaneen Barnhart, Jaime Corum, Tyler Robertson and Richard Sullivan will run April 5th through May 31st, with an Opening Reception with the artists scheduled for Friday, April 5th from 6-10pm.
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: BFA, Illustration, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.