World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 275 – Vicki Sullivan

Vicki Sullivan is a portrait painter from Mornington Peninsula (close to Melbourne), Australia. She paints in a very realistic style, a style that  reminds us of the works of the great masters of the Italian Renaissance. She started as a textile artist, painting on silk and making clothing and silk paintings. But she longed to learn to paint Realism. She started with private teachers and discovered in 2014 the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy, where she was taught the methods of the old masters.  

Vicki Sullivan: “My aim is to convey a sense of positive emotion and feeling to the viewer revealing elements of my subjects’ personalities and often my work is telling stories. While depicting contemporary subjects, my painting method is inspired by 19th century realism. My work involves glazing many layers making the colours rich and glowing as if from the inside and it takes several months to complete a single piece.”


The twenty –first century is experiencing a renaissance in Humanism. In the concern for a human way of life, figurative realism which echo’s this is the perfect contemporary vehicle for exploring this theme, says Vicki. “I can think of no other Art movement which could explore and communicate the intricacies of the Humanistic themes in a more poignant and moving way. The language of traditional realism cuts across languages and can be understood by people everywhere on earth regardless of language or education and enables communication with our past, present, and future. It may be seeking to capture an emotional state of mind like reverie, jealousy, joy, sadness, fear, etc., or it may attempt to tell a story, Realism helps us to connect with each other and relate to our own humanity.”

She believes this particular visual communication is most successfully when it is captures, depicts, and expresses our shared experience of humanity, how we feel about ourselves, others and the world around us. “Great Realist artists and art are not only impressive because of the technical skill but because they are infused with a vitality that defies words. It’s the kind of art that does not need words to justify itself.”

The Birth of Venus

Does she have a Key Work? She says she isn’t sure if there is such a work to designate. But something does come to her mind that is relevant in answer to this question.  Recently she finished a version of the Birth of Venus, which is an important piece for her.

Vicki Sullivan: “I had been wanting to paint a version of The Birth of Venus for quite a while, but my chosen model for that particular project was on a road trip to remote Western Australia, so I put the idea on the back burner for a while as I was busy finishing a few commissions. Then I was contacted by Grace Farriss, who asked if I would paint her as a version of The Birth of Venus for the cover of her upcoming album cover and of course I was thrilled. I have been lucky enough to see the early Birth of Venus versions by Botticelli at the Uffizzi Gallery in Florence and the Bouguereau version in the Musee D’Orsay and found both very inspiring. My favourite version of the subject is by William Bouguereau {his drawing skills, composition and skin tones are the height of artistic achievement in my opinion).” 

It was also great timing as she had finished her other commissions by then. “I had never met Grace before but of course I knew of her father, the main composer and writer for the Band INXS.  Grace had written and composed her Album then recorded in LA , which is now scheduled for release at the end of this year. It was Wonderful to meet Grace and collaborate, we had a great connection and it was almost as if we had met before. As I worked on the painting I would listen to her beautiful voice on her recordings and sometimes her voice brought tears to my eyes as I worked. It was very touching and quite emotional.” 

Starting at three years old  

Vicki Sullivan has been interested in painting since she was at least three years old, she says. “I spent many happy hours as a child painting and drawing. I was encouraged in this pursuit by my grandmother who was also a painter. As I grew older I have been greatly influenced by the 19th Century academic painters. I have a great respect for the skill level. These painters had excellent training and therefore were able to explore paint and painterly expression in a way which distilled the methods of the older masters and took painting to a new level.” 

She had several teachers in Australia and then she found out about the Angel Academy of Art. “One of the biggest influences on my artistic career has been the experience of studying at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. I am very grateful to have studied under the wonderful painter and teacher Michael John Angel and to have the opportunity to study the methods of the Old Masters with such a giant of the Art world as Maestro Angel.” 

Calmness and wellbeing

With her work she hopes to find a way for people to appreciate and respond to beauty, and feel positive emotions. “I paint things which bring me joy and I hope to pass that joy along.
I like it when one of my figurative paintings feels lifelike, as if the subject could walk out of the painting and into the room.”

Finally, does she have a philosophical thought? She has. “I believe in Painting what interests you, things you love, or intrigue you and feel authentic. I guess in myself I am seeking calmness and wellbeing and in my work I am trying to convey that. I get stressed out by all the angst and destruction going on in the larger world so I retreat to my studio and try to make some beauty to put out into the world. If it makes one person feel better, that will make me happy."

Photo 14: Vicki Sullivan



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