Turning Art Into Business

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Sue O'Sullivan, Sue's Art, on The Table Read

Written by Sue O’Sullivan


I’m Sue born and raised in London and now living in Wiltshire.

I rediscovered my love of art late in life and turned my hobby into a business.

Life Before Art

I’d always had an interest in art but when I was at school I had to choose between art and science and science won or rather Biology did. Looking back my fascination for how things are formed and function in nature plays a small part in my art today.

Science gave me a career with a large pharmaceutical company where I stayed for 10 years.

Our first son was born during that time, and I realised that I needed to be at home with him. The travelling I was doing was becoming too much leaving me exhausted, then my husband became ill so I left my job.

After this, when my husband was well again, we moved around quite a lot with his job, was blessed with our second son and settled in Wiltshire.

As our boys got older, we were lucky enough to travel to some beautiful places. A favourite of ours was New Zealand. We travelled there for a friend’s wedding then toured around the South Island. Such a stunning country !

On our travels I always take lots of photographs, often of unusual angles and close ups of nature. Many of these have influenced my work of today.

Finding Art Again

I believe it was when I was in my forties that whilst out shopping in a craft store my husband spotted an acrylic art set in a wooden case. I had been dabbling with an old water colour set I had so I was keen to try something new. He bought me the set and so a new art journey began.

I never thought for one moment that anyone would be interested in my creations, and I certainly had no thoughts of starting an art business back then !

My early attempts were created on paper, all of landscapes mostly inspired by my large collection of photographs. I am completely self-taught, so I read blogs and tutorials from other artists on techniques and colour mixing. My confidence with acrylic painting began to grow and I progressed from paper and canvas board to stretched canvas.

One of my earliest works was inspired by a photograph my youngest son took of a poppy meadow in Portugal. This still hangs in our lounge. The more I painted the more I realised how amazing it was to record special memories in the form of art, a painting evokes emotion both when creating it and viewing it.

Getting Serious

Although I loved painting I had very little confidence in my ability, I was just someone who dabbled or so I thought.

One evening we had friends over and we started chatting about my art. The husband mentioned he’d seen a piece of impressionistic art and would like something in that style for his lounge.

“I could do that,” I declared, without thinking what I was saying, and so I had my first commission.

Although I had been creating predominantly landscape works, I had always had a love for impressionism  and abstract art. This commission took me on a new journey, and I absolutely loved it. I finished the painting to his brief and to my amazement and relief he loved it ! My confidence was growing day by day now.

Sue O'Sullivan, Sue's Art, on The Table Read

That work opened my eyes to a whole new world of creativity, and I began experimenting with different tools to apply paint. Apart from pallet knives I have used dried grasses, tooth brushes (great for flicking paint onto a canvas!) old bank cards, and a rolling pin to name but a few. I also started to try new mediums to add texture to my work.

Such experimenting proved hugely beneficial for an extremely exciting project.

The idea for this came when I saw a striking photograph of Eucalyptus Trees in snow. I just loved the textures and colours of the bark. The image was posted on the Melbourne arboretum feed, and I just knew I had to paint it!

The photographer concerned very generously gave me permission to use her images. The resulting painting evolved using some of the tools I had been experimenting with.

The completed work can be seen on the left and excitingly was auctioned and sold.

You can read the whole story of this in my blog For the Love of Trees (sueosullivan.com) and Final Chapter (sueosullivan.com) which was written by the purchaser of the painting.

I continued happily creating whatever I felt moved to create, mostly nature with the occasional abstract work. It may be unusual for an artist to create both styles, but abstract art helps me “let go” and I often feel the need to create like this after I’ve done a detailed work.

Little did any of us know what we would have to face in 2020

Art during Covid

Living through covid has been surreal and I was so thankful I had art to keep me going.

Most of my work through the worst of the pandemic was abstract, now more than ever I needed to let go and stop all those unending thoughts and questions in my head. You can read mine and others thoughts about creativity during lockdown here: https://www.sueosullivan.com/post/art-in-lockdown.

Sue O'Sullivan, Sue's Art, on The Table Read

Also at this time I became more active on social media and through Twitter I “met” an amazing lady who loved my colourful abstracts. She fell in love with an artwork I shared and asked if she could buy it. She now has a wall of my art and has just commissioned a large work for her lounge.

The artwork on the right was her first purchase.

This is her testimonial https://www.sueosullivan.com/testimonials

It is particularly important to me to build relationships with people, they may not always buy your work, but they may know someone who is looking for what you can create.

Art has become a huge part of my life and has so many benefits. I would encourage anyone to have a go you never know what you can achieve until you try.

Happy painting !

Find More From Sue O’Sullivan:

Website: https://www.sueosullivan.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SueOSullivanArts

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sueosullivanartist/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuesArt

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/sosullivanartist/_created/

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