Patti Sullivan is one of Gloucester’s great expressionist and colorist landscape artists.
A series of paintings of cormorants along Gloucester’s Back Shore in 2013 represented a significant development in her work. Influenced by recent travel in Alaska, she endowed the familiar scene with a haunting remoteness. The paintings show a rugged, elemental landscape at the boundary of our world, where land meets sea and humans meet animals as foreigners.
In 2015, Sullivan continued her exploration of this coastline with a series of paintings of a particular large rock not far offshore. Though continuity with the earlier series is evident, especially in the large painting Solstice (2013), and in the enchantment of Sullivan’s rich colors and varied surface textures, the differences are striking. The powerful, eclipsed, and angular compositions of 2013 have given way to symmetries. Ruggedness has softened into simpler, more abstract forms. The cormorants have receded, and with them the sense of an alien world. Bold gestures in the paint which belonged to the rocks, sea, and sky in 2013 now seem to belong to the artist. Earth tones have become shining bright colors which recall Sullivan’s paintings of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, showing a human and social world of city architecture and people. The new series celebrates personal encounters with landscape and joy in nature’s many-splendored variation.