#LivesOfArtists…With Donald Sultan

What time do you wake up?
This depends what you mean by “waking up”. I wake up about every two hours at night, then
around 7 AM I am so exhausted from the previous routine that I make it permanent.

What do you eat for breakfast?
I usually eat cut nails for breakfast, but because I am now in Long Island I am having clam

Describe where you produce your work, and why you chose that space.
In Long Island, I work outside on a large table because it is the only place I have room to spread out. I can also spray the charcoal with fixative, and I find the air and openness challenging.

Do you have a particular daily routine that helps you work?
After breakfast I read the newspaper to cheer up and then go outside if it’s not raining or too
windy. The wind can participate in the final work, but not the rain.

Where do you go for your creative sparks?
My creative spark is struck from antsyness and boredom.

What are you currently working on?
My new work addresses the intersection between pastoral abstraction and the emotions of rage and fear. These close in on the otherwise floral world that I am locked into, because of the

Who was your most important mentor or inspiration?
My most important mentors were and are the artists John Torreano and the late Richard
Artschwager for their encouragement and friendship; my art dealers through the eighties Joe
Helman and Irving Blum, and the English writer and curator Ian Dunlop.

Who do you speak to when you need a second opinion or who gives the best feedback?
I seek second opinions every second from anyone standing near me.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I rarely receive or accept advice. I guess the best advice is not to provoke people in bars.

If you weren’t an artist what would you do?
I don’t know what I would be if I were not an artist. It’s inconceivable. I suppose I would be dead, which will eventually stop me from being an artist anyway.

How do you switch off from work in the evening?

What book are you reading right now?
I just finished the first part of a trilogy about the American Revolutionary War called The British Are Coming by Rick Atkinson. If you think things are bad now, I recommend this book.

Who is the other artist working today that you most admire?
I admire all artists working today.

If you could have lunch with any artist from across time, who would it be and why?
I would like to have lunch with myself, so that I could see what others see when having lunch
with me.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of all of my museum exhibitions. I can’t quite get over seeing my past paintings anew; getting reacquainted in a museum.

Explore More