Volume 1- Issue 3
July 23, 2004

In This Issue:

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Hello Friends..

I am running behind on my personal deadline to get this newsletter out. The Bethlehem Steel Prints have been out for a few weeks now. However, my failure to let you all know right away was for a very good reason. I've been busy working on the drawing for the poster for the upcoming "Bethlehem Historic & Cultural Festival" on June 11, 12 & 13 under the Hill-to-Hill Bridge in Bethlehem..

This particular drawing started out as any other drawing but it soon took on a personality of it's own. A very demanding personality, I must say, because it took control immediately. I was helpless! It led me in directions that I've never been before. My pen and I did everything we could to keep up as it twisted down one treacherous path after another. This drawing was merciless!

I've seen these paths before. In fact, Ive been on them before... with my pencil, not my pen; The idea of using ink to create things like glowing light, sparks, smoke, clouds or people was terrifying, not to mention presumptuous. These elements are easily handled with a pencil (and a little help from a shading stick and an eraser), but I've always used my pen strictly for architecture or "man-made objects such as brick, concrete, steel, etc. And, of course, trees and landscaping.

Pencil can be manipulated much easier and can always be erased and redrawn in the unlikely event of an "ooops". Not with a pen! When you put a solid black line on a solid white surface, it's there for good. No mistakes allowed! If your pen decides to get an attitude and leak a large blob of excess ink onto your drawing, the only thing to do is wipe the tears away, curse at yourself for not paying attention, and grab a new sheet of illustration board. And this drawing cared about none of that!

So, after my intended 50 or 60 hour journey turned into a 150 hour journey, I was tired, beaten and torn... but I survived! And as they say, "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger"... so now I rise up and dust myself off, and proudly present to you the drawing that took my skill to the next level, and is perhaps the best drawing I've ever done.

I hope you enjoy my efforts.

- David Sullivan

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As Promised..

A printable version of
"The Anatomy of the Festival Poster"

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click on image for larger printable version

Art Preview

"Portrait of my Son"

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"David B Sullivan Jr"

medium - pen & ink
image size
- 5 1/2" x 7"
drawing time: 23 hours 17 minutes 11 seconds

My son, Dave, recently graduated from Liberty High School with High Honors. I would also like to add that he did this while working full-time as a cook at Chili's Restaurant in Whitehall, walking the 8.3 miles between the two when his car was temporarily down for the count. And when time permitted, he would stop at Gold's Gym to work out. As I attempt to teach him and guide him away from the pitfalls of my own life, I am inspired by his own efforts and I'm certain that I learn more from him than he does from me.  

I wanted to show Dave how proud I was of him. Of couse, the pursuit of artistic greatness doesn't pay that well (as opposed to actual "artistic greatness", which I hear pays very well.) So, while other parents were out shopping for new cars for their grads or sending them on overseas vacations, all I had to offer my son was my talent and my time. Not that I feel bad about this; a car is one of thousands that will rust away in a few years or get totalled by another grad in a new car. And a vacation, though the memory will remain intact... the event will be over almost immediately. This portrait, however, is a one-of-a-kind that will be hanging on the wall of my son's office some day, being admired by his grandchildren... and years after that, it will be one of the most sought after pieces of DB Sullivan by art collectors around the world. I won't be here to see it, but my greatgrandchildren will be lovin' it!

The style I used to created this portrait is very bold and dramatic because that's the way I see my son approacing life. This would not be an appropriate style for everyone. It certainly wouldn't work for wedding portraits, family portraits or babies. This style works for people such as corporate presidents, politicians, authors, sports figures, rock stars, and of course my son, Dave.

I would like to offer an explanation for the exact drawing time of 23 hours 17 minutes and 11 seconds. I normally estimate my time and round it out, but one of Dave Jr's quirks is that he doesn't like even numbers. While the rest of the world struggles to get the gas pump to an even ten dollars, Dave purposly stops his at $9.62 or $8.37 some other arbitrary number. He tells me that he does this simply because the rest of the world stops at "ten". That's my boy!


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Announcements & Good News

"The 28 Inch Mill"

One of the features of "The Steel Festival" was "The 28 Inch Mill", a one man play produced and performed by Stan Frantz. The play, a dramatic tale of what it was like to work in the steel, was written by Stan's father, Robert Frantz, who worked at the Steel in the 50's and the early 60's.

Stan went out on a limb in pursuit of his own artistic greatness by producing and performing this play. Unfortunately, as it happens with many artists, the limb broke; due to poor attendance, all the remaining shows had to be cancelled. Except for one! There will be a special performance at the Ice House on Sand Island in Bethlehem (Behind the Depot Restaurant) at 2:00 pm on Sunday, July 4th. I wanted to help Stan get the word out, but I didn't get this newsletter done in time, and many of you won't be getting this until Monday or Tuesday. However, If you're reading this on Sunday morning, and you can make it to the show at 2 o:clock, you won't regret it. If you're a steelworker... it'll give you chills, if you're not a steelworker... it'll intrigue and facinate you.

If you can't make it to the show, you can still see it and support Stan's great efforts by ordering a DVD of the performance. I encourage you to visit Stan's site The 28 Inch Mill to read more.

I finally got inside the Bethlehem Steel

This news falls under the "better late than never" category. On Friday, May 14, 2004, after trying for over a year... I finally made it inside the Steel property... legally. Joined by a friend of mine, Edgar Prause, a fine art photographer from upstate New York, we both had our dream fullfilled as we stood in between the giant buildings and structures that now remain.

It was absolutely surreal. I felt like I was in a ghost town... the kind of place where the silence seems to talk about days past. Everywhere I turned I saw something that was personal to someone, somewhere. It might have been a scratch in a door that was, perhaps, made by someone named Oliver scratched by his tool belt as he rushed out of work because he recieved news that his wife just gave birth to their son... or a nail in a wall put there by someone named Nathan to hang his cap on when he filled out his reports. There were thousands of these little memories that seemed to scream out in the silence.

Armed with my digital camera, I bounced from place to place snapping picture after picture. I took over 400 pictures that day, which brings my tally of Bethlehem Steel photos up to around 700. I don't spend alot of time on getting my photos perfect. My camera is my "visual notepad" used only to record images that I can later use to create a drawing. Unlike my buddy, Edgar, who spent over a half hour just setting up for a single shot. He used a gigantic "accordian-like" camera that used 8"x10" negatives. He reminded me of Elmer Fudd as he stuck his head under the cloth that draped from the back of his tripod. I think he got about 6 or 7 pictures that day, but I'd bet they're phenomenal. He told me that negatives of that size could be blown up to 20" x 24" with no loss of clarity.

We spent about 5 or 6 hours inside, taking a break halfway to empty my memory card on my computer at home and to get some more batteries. We would've stayed longer, but I ran out of room on my memory card again and we didn't have time to make it back from a second visit to my pc.

All in all... it was a day I will always remember!

Next Year's "Steel Festival"

After the festival was over, everyone involved began looking at how next years event could be made better. After all, it's much easier to change an existing something than it is to create a new something. I am pleased to say that I've been invited by The Steelworkers' Archives and the PFIW to be on the committee for next year. This is something I am truly looking forward to as I didn't want to say "goodbye" to any of them.

Banana Factory... here I come!

One of the results of the festival was having Bruce Ward taking me to meet some of the good folks at The Banana Factory. I met with Janice Lipzin, the Director, along with some of the staff. Everybody was very friendly and greeted me with the utmost hospitality. It was an enjoyable experience that deepened my desire to get involved.

My work will soon be in the gift shop and I spoke with them about teaching some classes and maybe even obtaining a studio there. I certainly intend to keep you all posted on the outcome of this venture.

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A Gift for my Subscribers

Now that I have 700 photos of the Bethlehem Steel, I don't want them to sit on my computer doing nothing. So I created a screensaver of 35 of these photos to share with you all.

If you would like to recieve my "Bethlehem Steel" Screensaver click here

These are some great pictures! Please don't be shy!

The Answer


This is a feature where I answer one of the many questions
people often ask me about my artwork or my ability to create it.
If you have a question you would like answered, click here.

The Question:

"How do you draw like that?"

My Answer:

This is the question I'm asked the most, though I realize it's more of a comment than a question. I'm sure nobody ever expected an answer, but it provoked me into looking for an answer which I think I found...

Imagine several young children in a room together drawing pictures. Each one of them is capable of only drawing to the normal ability of their age. They don't know any better and contently draw their primitive pictures.

Then an adult calls one of the children, a little boy, into another room and tells the child to roll up his right sleeve. The adult reveals a flat device and straps it to the boy's arm. As he wraps the velcro straps securely, he tells the boy that this will help to keep his arm straight. What he doesn't explain to the boy is that this is actually a magical drawing machine and whoever wears it will be able to draw pictures well beyond their normal capability. He pulls the boy's sleeve down hiding the machine and sends him back into the room with his peers.

Armed with this "miracle machine", the boy begins to draw spectacular pictures that overwhelm the other children. They all gather around him and exclaim, "Wow, how did you do that?... That's awesome!... I wish I could draw like that." The boy smiles and welcomes the attention.

What the other children don't realize is that the boy, himself, is just as amazed at his pictures as they are. The pictures just happen to be coming "out of his hand". He doesn't know how or why... he doesn't question his ability... he just draws. He obviously isn't aware that it was a gift from someone.

Like the little boy in this story... I, too, am in awe with what comes from my hand. I don't know how I do it, I just do it. I take a blank white board and strategically place little black lines and dots all over it's surface. After many hours, I sit back to see what I did and find myself looking at it with the same amazement that everyone else does, maybe more.

Unlike the little boy, I am very aware that my ability is a gift that was given to me.

Also, they were out of the "wrist models" when I got my gift so I was upgraded to "the embedded model". The embedded model is integrated with the soul and the personality of the user as opposed to getting strapped to the wrist. Unfortunately, it has some ill side effects such as eccentric behavior, disorganization, procrastination, occasional anti-social behavior, disregard for authority, weird dreams at night and writer's cramp (just to name a few). The good thing about the embedded model is that it's much easier to wash your arm.

And the last difference between the little boy and me is that I didn't get my gift from an adult in the next room... I got mine from God.


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This is a regular feature  where I acknowledge and thank those who've helped me in some way with my pursuit of artistic success.

I would like to acknowledge:

The Members of the Steelworkers' Archives and the PFIW

I would like to thank all the members of The Steelworkers' Archives and the PFIW. Just as the steelworkers back in the early 1900's built the neighborhoods and the churches of the Southside, the steelworkers in these organizations built a festival to honor their ancestoral co-workers. If it wasn't for these fellows I would not have had the great experience I had, nor would I have attained the credibility I did.

Thank fellas!

Stan Frantz

As I mentioned earlier, Stan produced and performed the one man play,
The 28-Inch Mill. Stan is a well-rounded artist whose talents are spread out among a variety of areas.

Among other things, he designed the websites for The Steelworkers Archives and Save Our Steel. These two organizations will be hosting venues for me to sell my Bethlehem Steel Art and the Festival Poster and Stan has begun working with me on details to make this happen. He is a very generous person who seems to put his desire to help people before considering himself.

Check out Stan's website: Synergistic Designs

On behalf of everyone interested in the Bethlehem Steel... Thank you Stan!

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copyright © 2006 David B Sullivan.  Please read my copyright notice.