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The Watercolor Paintings of Elizabeth Sullivan

Ten years ago artist Elizabeth Sullivan moved into a studio apartment. That little event sparked a career as a watercolor painter. Although she had been painting, drawing, dying fabrics and doing sculpture since she was very young, Ms. Sullivan was forced to take up watercolors in her small space, because there was no room for other media.

She found out that she liked watercolors best, and although the tiny home in a studio apartment has been replaced with a house and studio in Elgin, Texas, she still excels at watercolors. Art prints of her paintings are published in Sweden and distributed internationally, and her work has been used by other companies to adorn coasters, cards, area rugs and more. She is best known for her southwestern watercolors of horses and wildlife, but her recent paintings of dogs and cats have become wildly popular.

Sullivan acknowledges that one of her inspirations is cave paintings and pictographs and the vibrant hues of the southwest. She uses an interesting technique to achieve the yellows, reds, oranges, browns and turquoise, which used a characteristic of watercolor, but is not an ordinary watercolor technique. Watercolors are transparent - so by layering one color on top of another in several stages, brilliant color pops off the page.

Another aspect of her paintings is paint that flows across the page. "The tendency of water is to flow," she says, "and I just add more water and let it flow. Of course the trick is to get it to flow where you want it to go, in the proper amount."

"I used to paint a lot more realistically," remarks Ms. Sullivan, " but what I really wanted to express was the graceful and powerful motion of the animals, so as time passes my paintings become more and more ethereal in that expression." Motion is a key concept in her paintings - horses, buffalo, longhorn cattle and even armadillos and horned lizards actually seem to move in her paintings.

She catches other animal motion, too. The armadillo mama with her four babies waddles along searching for someone's garden to root around in. The horned lizards circle each other, deciding their next moves.

The subjects of her paintings are subjects familiar to the artist. Horned lizards are a recent addition to her subject matter, and after a patron expressed interest, Ms. Sullivan recalled her own childhood fascination with the little creatures. If you make your home in Texas, armadillos are part of the scenery - often found digging up your garden. She has worked around horses for most of her life and studied the animals exhaustively. Each new subject she takes up requires much study and sketching to narrow down the essence of the animal. Then a painting can be begun.

With her four cats sleeping at her feet or walking across a fresh painting, Elizabeth Sullivan loves spending time in her studio or on a ladder working on a new mural. You may also find her at a gallery or art show.

Visit her website www.ecsullivan.com and feel free to contact her by email at ecsullivan@aol.com


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