A burning passion
By Hank Lohmeyer
Published Wednesday, May 31, 2017 7:59 am
Photos by Hank Lohmeyer Scott Sullivan begins work with a cedar blank in his studio located just north of downtown Cedaredge. He has fashioned a special burning tool which gives him flexibility and adds creative range to his work.
When Scott Sullivan retired from his career at the Delta Correctional Center after 16 and a half years, art became a much bigger part of his life.
With new-found free time he now had for pursuing his passion, he completed construction of a studio behind his house just north of town in Cedaredge. Perhaps appropriately, he lined the work space with aspen paneling from local forests, wood he had acquired from the Delta Timber sawmill before it closed.
And now, outfitted with some simple tools of his wood burning craft, and with a couple of work benches he built, he creates every day to his heart's content making unique and beautiful pieces. His range of talent runs from charming and artistic decor wall hangings to large panels, and even decorated doors.
Stepping into Scott's studio located right alongside of Highway 65 one is greeted with the rich, enticing, clean aromas of freshly worked woods -- cedar, aspen and pine.
His works display the images of a world abounding in nature's beauty; the beauty that surrounds fortunate people who live amid Delta County's scenic landscapes.
Scott says that following some advice he once came across, "I make a point of doing some work every day, and it is the first thing I do every day after having breakfast."
His studio location just outside his home's back door gives him "a five second commute" to his new work place; quite a bit shorter than his former daily to-work and back-again ride between Grand and California mesas.
Scott's new art career and his new work space when completed two years ago combined at once to inspire his creative imagination recently freed from work-a-day duties. When he began, "Sometimes I would work for ten hours a day," he said. And the thrill of creating art has never worn off.
Scott says that his artistic work is fun. "I really enjoy the creativity," he said. The enjoyment he finds in nature and in art shows through in the pieces lining the walls of his studio.
He finds that art provides an especially good use of and exercise for his imagination. He loves to use his imagination to discover new techniques by experimenting, he said.
Previously, before he found his passion in the wood burning art, Scott was an oil painter. He shares in a family art talent. In fact, Scott has a brother who is a highly accomplished oil painter whose works hang in some well-known galleries, he explained.
Scott's wood burning is in a way actually an offshoot of his oil painting, a medium in which he also explored themes of nature and natural settings. He tells how one day his wife, Cindy, suggested that he add some decorative work to his oil painting frames. He did, and that was the start of his artistic career in wood burning.
Scott said that he acquires the woods that serve as medium for his works from sawmills and lumber yards. His art also provides the opportunity for outings to Grand Mesa for permitted gathering of wood specimens. They are later transformed into skillfully singed images of the very same environments where the wood lived, grew, died, and was then eventually found by Scott and transformed into fine art.
Scott uses several different species of wood and his favorites are spruce, pine, aspen and cedar. He will sometimes find a suitable piece of cottonwood to serve as his canvas.
Favorite subjects include nature scenes with trees which he enjoys etching freehand with the red-glowing tip of his wood burner's pen.
Scott has a particular eye and talent for capturing the hulking presence of bears lumbering through the Grand Mesa's woodlands, and he points out a favorite work of his that is currently displayed in the studio -- a very realistic bear. There are also lions, wolves, elk and birds of prey captured in dramatic images of flight. He says he will sometimes use an illustration to guide him in getting proportions of animal figures correct and aligned properly.
Scott uses standard and self-made wood burning tools. He has fashioned a special high-temperature wood burning pen that is powered by a 10 amp auto battery charger and that integrates a cooling airflow from a modeler's air brush pump. The special tool gives a deep, high contrast burn that enhances some of the works and makes using darker shades of wood possible.
Scott shows his works at his home gallery, and it is also on display at ImpressionZ Gallery in Cedaredge and at other galleries in Grand Junction, Durango, Montrose, and Lake City. He has displayed his work at festivals and street fairs also.
Scott and Cindy are very involved in family life. They have six grown children and six grandchildren who live in the area, who they get to see often in their home which Scott and his son custom built. Scott's devotion to and work with youth extends to substitute teaching in District 50J at the middle school level.
"God has been good to Cindy and me and our family. We are blessed," Scott said.
He extends an invitation to all to experience a visit to his studio on the appropriately-named Knotty Pine Court just north of Cedaredge right off of Highway 65. He has a website at: sullivanwoodart.com and phone number is 970-778-0143.