by Edie Weinstein
It seems that Kelly Sullivan was born to be an artist. Her loving grandmother shared these wise words that encouraged her to create, “Don’t be shy with the paint” – and adds, that “she also let me explore a lot by exposing me to different mediums and crafts. Her house in the Poconos was like magic to me. She also used to praise everything I created which was encouraging, but perhaps not realistic in terms of preparing me for a real career in the arts. When I was five, it was wonderful though.”
This Lambertville ‘creativa’ invites others to splash about in their own colorfully creative juices. Sullivan explains that she does this “in many ways. Paint is only one of them. The important thing is to exercise your imagination, whether you use paint, or music, or gardening. The act of creating anything exercises the imagination and the process of taking your vision through the steps necessary to bring it into existence develops your critical thinking skills. There is great science available to support the need for creative exercise, and in addition, it just feels really good.
Her group activity called Paint.Team “offers people a way to be creative together, without any anxiety of ‘not doing it right’. Folks can touch any empty area and the program gives them multiple colors to work with. They can combine colors to create patterns or picture within that space so their marks unique, but they still contribute to the overall image – and it’s surprising relaxing. It’s pretty cool.”
One way she invites erstwhile participants to dive right in is through FingerSmears™ , the purpose of which is to “create a collaborative meaningful piece of art. I began creating FingerSmears™ over 25 years ago, and I’ve managed to involve over 100,000 people in collaborative work. I’ve created FingerSmears™ with many different groups, large and small – corporate leadership conferences, tradeshows, school groups, sporting teams, and rock stars. They are often used to commemorate events, so I design them based on conversations and directives from my clients. We consider messaging, the size of the group, and the final destination of each piece. When I arrive on location I sketch out the image and invite guests to participate by picking a color and sticking their finger in the paint. They then add their mark and their signature to piece. I am there for the entire process, and I pull the piece together at the close of the event. Often the final FingerSmears™ will hang in the corporate lobby, or be auctioned off for charity, or become a piece of public art. Clients get some extra mileage out of the project by sending follow-up postcards or prints of the finished piece.
Many don’t consider themselves artistic. Sullivan believes that “some are more inclined toward creative activity. We all have our strengths and that’s how we balance each other out. You may not consider yourself to be artistic, just like I don’t consider myself to be mathematical, but just as I need math to maintain a well-balanced life, you need some art too. Art, for those who don’t consider themselves to be artistic, can be an anxiety provoking exercise. We are forced to make choices and sometimes what we choose doesn’t turn out so well. There is risk involved in creating anything. FingerSmears™ and Paint.Team remove a lot of that anxiety because they are governed by some logic in the background that helps hold it all together. They leave you room to be creative, without compromising the whole, which just makes it fun.”
She explains the greater purpose of this work. “To create a meaningful piece of collaborative art, while bringing attention to the shad fest auction and the chamber family that we all belong to. The chamber functions on the same principals as Paint.Team – working together to build stronger communities – Paint.Team just uses more color.”
Further, Sullivan muses, “Since the invention of the modem I’ve been thinking about a way to bring my collaborative FingerSmear work to the digital world. I figured out a way, in theory, to make it happen and I pitched the concept to a colleague, Doug Moreland. Doug is a brilliant serial software entrepreneur, and he also happens to be a fan of my work. He saw potential in the concept and in the universal langue of art, and he agreed to take it on. We are doing it without giant development budgets, and at our own pace –which for the most part, is pretty non-stop. We’ve just begun beta testing which is showing some promising results. The web application has a great deal of functionality that we will be releasing shortly, including the ability invite friends into projects, join public projects for a better planet, and create custom projects for your special events. For the time being, we’re excited to share a collaborative Paint.Team project with the chamber to support the Shad Fest art auction. We hope members follow the email link to “Shad Shenanigans” and help us create a really fun and colorful collaborative piece of art. There will be more coming soon.”
Sullivan’s social conscience inform her artistry and “everything I do I think. It does for all of us – those who have a conscience that is. Living and flourishing in this world is not an easy task. We do better when we can operate within a supportive community. All of my work points to that I think.”
“The Shad Shenanigans” is the name of their Shad Fest Poster. She describes the design, “It is the template for the program. When a participant touches an area in the light sky, for instance, the program will give them that area to color in. They will be given 6 light colors to choose from and they can color, write, draw, create a pattern – whatever they want. Once “The Shad Shenanigans” is all filled in, we will print it and mount it to the poster.”
The 2017 Shad Fest will showcase their work. “All of the posters are auctioned, and this one will be also. We are hoping to secure a large screen monitor to show the time-lapse of the piece – mark by mark, coming together. All of the money from the poster auction is used to create a scholarship for a local student to pursue a career in the arts.”
Sullivan issues an invitation – “If your interested in joining in on a Paint.Team project, or creating a custom project they can visit Paint.Team or email me [email protected] My fine art studio is on the 3rd floor above the Peoples Antique Store at 28 N Union Street, Lambertville. NJ – just across the street from where the poster auction happens.”