Jane Sullivan's work was brought to my attention recently by a friend of mine (Patti Mann, who will be featured on Embody Your Muse in the next few months). Since I am in love with France, Jane was of immediate interest to me. Once I saw her work, though, I was so intrigued. Her Fairies are especially soulful, and her work as a whole is full of intricacy and vibrant colour.
Jane's first art teacher was her mother, and she moved on to study as an adult in the States and Ireland. Not only is Jane a visual artist; she plays harp as well, and has studied in the States, Ireland, and France! She now resides in France, and teaches classes in every genre of the art she produces. As you will see, spirituality is of great importance to Jane, and her life revolves around it. Jane is such a joy, and I'm happy to introduce her work to you.
What does Creativity mean to you?
I believe that my (and all true) creativity comes from the Divine, so it is a way of allowing the beauty to pass through our hands and on into the lives and hearts of others. I hope that doesn’t sound too whimsy or too “peace & love” spiritual (though I am certainly all those things!), but I do truly think that creativity is a universal energy, which arises and blossoms in individuals by the power of grace.
How do you expand yourself creatively?
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
My Mother was my great mentor and encouragement. Many a parent would have been worried to see all those unicorns and dragons littering the margins of my school notebooks! But no, she just taught me to do what I love, and do it the best I can, and to follow (or make) my own path in life.
What inspires you most?
Beauty, in all its forms: music, colours, TREES (love them!), animals, kindness, miracles, smiles of strangers in the street, gentle words from loved ones, poetry and songs….
What turns you on creatively?
Going on retreat to a monastery and listening to glorious gregorian chants, and sitting where the colours that pour down from stained glass windows can touch my skin. (I should have warned you, I am completely crazy! and mostly, I’m crazy about God!!)
Do you have any gratefulness practices?
Prayer… Every day, all day.
Do you daydream often? If so, does it inform your work?
It is all I do…… I live in a daydream, and I call it Life. One day, when I awake (after death), I’ll know how close my daydream was or wasn’t to the Truth.
How does a relationship and/or children affect your creativity?
When I give workshops to children, I find all sorts of spontaneous ideas for designs coming out of them. I suggest that they see the letterforms of our calligraphy classes, or illuminated initials, as “alive”, and they delight and inspire me with the wild life they see in everything!
Is there a Creative, past or present, that you would give just about anything to work with? Who, and why?
There are so many wonderful artists, poets, musicians that inspire me --- but I never thought of wanting to work with them. I think we are all connected and united, so I can work with them through that perhaps….
How do you care for yourself to ensure you’re available when ideas present themselves?
I just keep praying, keep seeing myself as part of God and as being on my path, His path …. step by step.
How do you balance life and art effectively? Or, do you?
I only do art. My life is completely unbalanced in terms of the real and responsible world that is lived by society and steady, normal people. I can’t change that. Nor do I wish to, I guess!!
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
Hmmm…. good red wine?! I also use heavy doses of laughter, a little yoga, visiting friends, making love, do just letting the dry spells be dry.
How does criticism affect you?
Oh, I don’t perhaps take criticism too well--- I don’t have a lot of self-confidence in my “little” self, in fact --- I always thinks I should do better, so when I hear criticism I usually multiply it by 100%!
Has your work ever been copied? If so, how did you deal with it?
Oh yes, but I take that as a compliment, usually!
How important is self compassion to your creative process?
I wish I had more, so I can’t really say I use it much in my working process!
Do you enjoy collaborating, or prefer to work alone?
Mostly alone, but I play harp now in a duo with a flutist, and it’s WONDERFUL!!!
Do you work in a studio/space designed specifically for your creativity, or on the spur of the moment/anywhere inspiration strikes?
In my studio, yes.
Is it important for you to have a creative, inspiring environment?
…. oh yes!!
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
Definitely “go with the flow”!
What is your typical day like?
There is no such thing as a typical day.
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
Regular prayers, as in a monastery. And very very frequent cups of good Irish tea!
Do you believe art can change the world? If so, how?
As a portal of love, yes ---- and it does so when it is not coming from the ego, but from the Divine.
Do you believe that connecting with your creativity, or helping others to do so, can positively affect the world? If so, how?
Absolutely, by the shared joy of creation, delight, beauty…...
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
I meet sooooo many, all the time. Natural, and miraculous (which is the same thing!).
What effect do you want your art to have on the world?
I hope it will continue to bring joy and feelings of peace and wonder to those who see it.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
At the moment, I am listening to silence ---- but I love medieval music, chants, and also classical, baroque, Celtic, and Enya!
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
“Love, and do what you will” (St. Augustine), and a dear friend who suggested to me that my “call” from God is to “make my life a hymn to Liberty” ---- a very lovely idea.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?
Those two lines would do well.
Do you have any upcoming projects/collections to share?
At the end of this year, I will be going to live in/near a monastery, in order to create an illuminated Psalter (should take me two or three years).
Where can we find your art?
My site is www.calligrafee.com
I have several books published, on calligraphy, fairies, illuminations, and some fairy stories also…. see Amazon, or my site….