Thomas Sullivan

"8" Meters Rounding the Mark

Tom Sullivan, "8" Meters Rounding the Mark, watercolor, 18 ⅛″ x 27 ⅞″; signed lower right.

Sullivan, now in his seventies, is a self-taught painter, who has worked at his calling full time all his life. Originally from Buffalo, he spent his early years painting the Great Lakes grain and ore carriers, and the giant grain elevators and activity on the Buffalo waterfront.

Thames Barges

Tom Sullivan, Thames Barge, oil on canvas, 8″ x 12″; signed lower right.

Since the 1960’s, Sullivan has also worked in Maine, painting marine scenes. He is a master of ship painting. His venues in Maine have included Castine, Blue Hill, and Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert. For several decades he kept a 32 foot sloop in Northeast Harbor, lived aboard it, and sailed the coast. At anchor he used the cockpit as a studio and painted what he saw.

Sullivan has a unique palette, and is a master of glazing in oils. Boats, water, and reflections look like no one else’s — the result of years of study and a brilliant imagination. He simplifies his scenes in a signature way.

Sullivan’s work is popular, and thus in scarce supply. It is in many public and private collections, including the Rockefellers.

Sullivan is equally skilled at watercolor.

Characteristic of a Sullivan painting is its pervasive sense of calm, a meditative quality that depends upon more than simply his economy of means. There is an all over tonality that contributes; in the seascapes it is a suffusion of a faint yet soothing blue that permeates everything. This is a world that is instantly recognizable, and yet reinvented; not the familiar experience of snapping wind and prancing light that every sailor knows, but another kind of day altogether, or perhaps simply a still yet familiar place in the singular mind of a mature painter.