Barbara Sullivan, Artist
Barbara Sullivan, Artist's Biography














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Artist's Biography

Sullivan's emotions are reflected with a spiritual vitality that fuses the artist and art into one."
                                                                                 Lois Callo Garvin
                                                                                 Addi Galleries

“Critics have described Barbara Sullivan’s work as uncannily realistic, She captures, as few artists can, the authenticity of native American subjects.” 

                                                                                 Southwest Art Magazine.

               Artist's Biography

At the age of three, Sullivan, along with her parents and brother, moved to California from her home in Indiana where she was born. 

                    Barbara and Brother With Mom and Dad

They stopped on the way to visit her grandparents on their farm in North Dakota. It was here that Sullivan rode her first horse, named Ruby, which belonged to her uncle, and fell in love with Caesar and Billy, two draft plow horses. She could be found in the barn every evening waiting for Caesar and Billy to come in from the fields to be unharnessed. These experiences left an indelible impression in her life.

     Barbara With Brother and Two Sisters

 Longing to still be around horses, Sullivan saved pennies, nickels and dimes, not counting the times she conned her uncles, until she had 50 cents to rent a horse at the stable not far from her house. She fell asleep to Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and the Lone Ranger on the radio. Sullivan’s creativity was also evident at this time when she almost burned the house down creating a life like campfire from Easter basket grass and birthday candles for her little plastic cowboys and horses!

A desire to create  grew in her as she watched  her grandmother draw children with color pencils on the grey dividers in shredded wheat boxes. A pencil drawing of a horse’s head submitted to a television program for children won Barbara her first recognition

                    (a later commissioned drawing)

In the 1950’s Sullivan and her  family, which  now  included two sisters, once again moved,  this time to Las Vegas, Nevada. Her  mother developed  a  lung problem after working in the shipyards  during  World  War II  and  her doctor thought  it best that she  move to a  desert  climate.  Las  Vegas,  at  that  time, was a town of fifty thousand; small compared to the over two million residence it has today.

In  the  mid  1970’s  Sullivan  started painting an d it wasn’t long before her talent was recognized. She was asked to represent the 1976 Boulder  City Arts  Festival in Boulder City, Nevada.  She won  First,  Second  and  Third  Place Awards at the Jaycee State Fair  in  1977  and  in  1981  Barbara  Sullivan’s  painting Winter Splendor  was  selected  to represent  the Christmas Arts Festival sponsored  by  the  City  of  Las  Vegas  and  the  Las Vegas  Art Museum. 


The painting  was  purchased  by Nevada National Bank for their corporate  collection.  In  1983  the  City of  Las Vegas  selected Barbara  Sullivan  as one of three artists to  exhibit in the newly completed U.S. Federal Building.

Sullivan’s  first  oil  painting  workshop  was  with  well-known artist,  Leslie B. DeMill.  Starting  with  a still life she learned to see  and  paint  shapes,  perspective,  value, and  color  from life. 


With this understanding, Sullivan said, it was easy to slip into painting almost  any  subject  including portraits. She  was able to  pass this  knowledge on to other beginning artists and began  teaching representational  fine  art. 
It  was natural  for Barbara Sullivan to paint the Native American. Her  great-grandmother was from the Iroquois Nation of Native Americans. 


Sullivan  loves  the  outdoors,  her  horses  (a  gift  from  her husband), the  stories  she  heard from  her grandmother, the history of the Native American people and the West. 


    Lost Horse Creek in Montana

In  1986  Barbara Sullivan was  invited  as  a guest artist of the WAOAW  (Woman Artists of the American West) at  the  PaJo Gallery in Pinedale, Wyoming.  Sullivan says,  “Here cowboys are authentic and cattle  drives  still happen!” Sullivan  spent a few days  on  her friends ranch in Boulder, Wyoming. She  and her husband were the original owners and outfitters of  the  Big  Sandy Lodge, located at the edge of Bridger Wilderness and on the  Big Sandy River. They went by horseback into the Bridger Wilderness, over the same trails as Jim Bridger and his party.

                         Bridger Wildnerness, Wyoming

Riding through  tall pines  and green meadows, they  rested  and warmed  under  the sun  and  sheltered  under a large pine branch during  a  thundering  downpour,  which  ended  as  quickly  as  it began.   “After  the  rain,  Barbara said, I sank in a bog to the horse’s belly, but  the  horse  and  I  made it out okay.   The  quietness and peace  was  unforgettable.  We  went  for  miles  without talking. 

The only sound would be  the  crackling  of a twig or stone under the  horse’s  hoof  or  the   shrill   cry   of  an   eagle   above.  My thoughts  wandered   to  the  mountain   men,   Jim  Bridger   Kit Carson,   Thomas   Fitzpatrick   and  William  Sublette  and   the thoughts they too  must  have  had  as  they  rode unmarked trails in this pristine, beautiful wilderness.”

Another  wonderful  experience on Barbara Sullivan's Wyoming trip was the feeling  of  awesomeness  that  swept over her as she looked out over the  vast Green  River.  Fifteen Rendezvous  were  held  in  the  late 1820's  and  1930's  at  several  different  locations in what are now the states  of  Wyoming,  Idaho,  and  Utah. Six of those years the Rendezvous were held in the valley of the Upper Green   River   near   Pinedale, 

                                   (continued above

Once a year the mountain man, alone or in small groups, trickled out  of  the  several  empty  square  miles  to  meet  at  the annual Rendezvous  for  several  weeks  during the summer, trading with  the Indians  and  other companies, sharing  in  the  festivities  and comradery.  It is said that few wilder affairs have been held in the mountains before or since. You can  almost hear their parting cry as they rode back into the wilderness "meet me on the green".

1998 through 2002 Sullivan traveled to South Dakota, Colorado and the Navaho Reservation in Arizona. While in South Dakota she photographed the Native American people as they camped along the Cheyenne River. She photographed cowboys, cattle drives and horse roundups on the Shearer ranch. .

Sullivan was also invited to  the  Prairie Edge Ranch to view and photograph the vast herds of buffalo.  The  buffalo  scenes  were shot  here for the famous movie, "Dancing with  Wolves",  starring Kevin Costner.  She  was  invited to  the old  Uncompahgre  Fort  in  Colorado  where she was able to photograph   the mountain men  and the Native Americans.


Twice she photographed and shared dinner with a Navaho family on the Navaho Reservation in Chinle, Arizona. She also has an  Apache and  a  Paiute  family  that  modeled  for  her. Her  photo  library has hundreds of photos available as reference for new paintings.

In 2005 another dimension was added to the subjects  Barbara Sullivan paints

                                          Michael Harlan

She took  her first ride on a Harley Davidson motorcycle  with  a 30 year seasoned  rider. She  says, “Well  after all, it’s really  a big iron horse.” This  is   when   Sullivan  started   painting  a  collection  of  genre motorcycle oil paintings on canvas mused and modeled by her biker  friend,  Michael  Harlan.    Most  of the   paintings   are  very large  and  powerful.  She  has over five hundred motorcycle and biker  photos  in her library for reference. On her  website, click On the Easel  to   experience  creating one of Sullivan's paintings.

In  2007  to  early  2009 Sullivan took time away from painting due to  an  illness  and  to  take  care  of  her  husband  of  28 years. He modeled as a mountain man in Black Powder Warrior. 


Sullivan's husband passed away July 2008. During this hiatus, the last of her original  paintings  were  sold.   Sullivan’s  paintings  have been represented  by  several  galleries – The  Cararra Gallery,  NV;  The Tribal   Treasures  Gallery,  CA;   Addie   Galleries,  NV;   Navarro Gallery,  AZ;  The Inspiration Gallery, CA; Courtyard Gallery, WA; Galleria de Chavez, NV;  L Bar Western  Art, TX.  L&M Art Group Gallery, AZ

She has now ventured back into painting with  renewed enthusiasm, and it  shows in her work. The new collection is colorful and full of energy.    The   contemporary   style   backgrounds,   in   some,   are expressive  and  exciting.  The  subjects  placed  within the work are still  very  realistic.    The  style of  color  excitement  will  not  take Sullivan  out  of   the  realm  of  her  subjects  and  will continue to excite  her established  and  new collectors.  

Two  of  these  examples below are on Sullivan’s website. 




As an American  Representational Painter, Barbara Jean Sullivan  is  listed    in   Who’s  Who   in   American   Art.   Barbara Sullivan’s   original painting of Littlest Apache is in the Whitehouse collection. 

                                    LITTLEST APACHE

Sullivan’s  boundaries  as  a local talented artist have expanded into national  recognition  with  a resume  of over 45 invitational shows, awards  and  recognitions  including the C. M. Russell  Auction  of Original Western Art, Great Falls, Montana and Best in Oil, Bosque Conservatory  Art  Classic,  Bosque  Conservatory  of  Art,  Clifton, Texas.  Sullivan  was  also  awarded  the  honor  in  2001 to study with Howard Terpning, Cowboy Artist of America and in 2002 with Dan Mieduch, a master of color.




Barbara Sullivan has taught artists to paint in oil for over 30  years. Recently,   she  became  a founding  member  of  the CCAG, Clark County  Artists  Guild.  The foundation was incorporated as a non-profit  organization  in July 2009. Barbara Sullivan’s mission for  helping to support  the  CCAG  is to help  artists  advance their skills   and   promote  and  sell  their  work.   The  CCAG  sponsors seminars, demonstrations and exhibitions of various art forms.

Sullivan still lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is the mother of four grown children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They reside in Nevada and California.


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