Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman is a self-taught figurative and contemporary surrealist painter. She uses modified oil and egg tempera techniques of the 14th century Old Masters. The narratives, symbology and illumination in her pieces emerge from someplace subliminal, a conjured realm of magic, mysticism and mystery. She uses her personal dream journal to inspire her artwork, exploring Jung’s collective unconscious with an overt curiosity for the bizarre and the esoteric, especially alchemy, the tarot, and spirit daemons.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I keep a dream diary and record a lot on paper. It’s a good place to gather all the creative madness, like an ad hoc scrapbook; if something catches my eye, I paste it in or make a little sketch.
Which is the relationship and influence between your cultural background and your artworks?
Raised in a hardcore Catholic household, I’ve always been cognizant of religious iconography and ideals as impactful to my work. A writer friend recently compared my warm-toned egg tempera style with the gold-leafed figurative icon statues and hangings that blanketed my house growing up. Feels like I’m continually repainting those images throughout my work. As an adult living in Canada, authority figures like the monarchs fascinated me. The richness of their lore is irresistible, and one of my earliest pieces was of the queen’s skull. It seems every single female figure I paint has some amount of ‘princess’ quality about her.
What are you most focused on?
Just wrapped intense focus on a group of work going to Phylogeny Contemporary gallery for a three-woman show. Art! Vancouver is around the corner and thrilled that an exhibit titled “Pop+X” will be my first curation. Am in the beginning stages with painting pieces for a September-January show with the Annenberg Community Beach House, titled “Life In This Ocean.” Incredibly excited to be co-curating a group of all-women artists and contributing work to the show.
Have you encountered any difficulties when you first started your art career?
Initially discovering which galleries would be interested in my work was difficult. Researching, visiting, and submitting all take time. It’s a numbers game; I like to say that every time you get a ‘no’ you’re getting closer to a ‘yes.’
Over these years, what is the most important thing you have learned from your profession?
You can’t stay in a cave and accomplish your art. Being willing to be open, and to be seen, really matters. Now today more than ever before. I’ve found that even as a natural introvert, when you speak about what makes you most passionate, others will naturally gravitate.
Do you think that a creative job is just creativity or it’s discipline too?
I ascribe entirely to Einstein’s quote regarding 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. It’s a huge mistake to wait around for inspiration to come. Practice breeds inspiration. Diane Arbus’s filofax kept tons of accountable, daily directives. After she decided she wanted a photo of identical twins in NYC, she combed the city for the perfect pair. You can’t expect the twins to land on your doorstep; you have to go look for them.
Are you currently working on new projects?
“Life In This Ocean” at the Annenberg Community Beach House is what’s on the horizon. Working with the Beach House is a huge honor for me as a personal admirer of both Wallis Annenberg and Marion Davies, and this will be the first all-woman show at the Marion Davies Guest House Gallery. Women’s visions for the property as a waterfront center of inclusive public and social life embody so many ideologies I revere. The show’s pieces will thematically speak to the ocean itself, with powerful feminine energy. My paintings will be large-format relative to my typical work. One piece is a huge underwater scene with dozens of marine animals; this piece will be on my easel for the next few months.
I like to say that every time you get a ‘no’
you’re getting closer to a ‘yes.’
I’ve found that even as a natural introvert,
when you speak about what makes you most passionate, others will naturally gravitate.
Artist Website > sullivanbeeman.com
Facebook > facebook.com/sullivanbeeman
Instagram > @dsullivanbeeman