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Folk Artist Marti Sullan: Example of Baby Boomer Creativity

Artist, Marti Sullan, left a comment on my website. So, whenever I have time, I like to follow the link to see who my readers are. Well, I liked Marti’s artwork, so I asked her to write an article about how she started making her simple, but clever, folk-art drawings, paintings, and collages. I’m a former artist, so I have an insatiable curiosity about how other artists find creative inspiration. Here’s her story about growing up as a creative Baby Boomer.

by Marti Sullan,

I was born on the longest day of the year in 1952. My Mom brought me home to our Midwest Cape Cod style house that cost $5,000. It housed my big brother, Dad, and Nana, and our three dogs.

baby boomers and creativity

Life was easy growing up in the neighborhood where all the Moms were at home, and we walked in and out of one another’s lives as if we were all cousins.

Boomer Children Created Their Own Fun

Summers were filled with the traditional wonder of “What do you want to do?” answered with, “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” After repeating this query several times, we always found something to do, and 99% of the time, it was outside. Once or twice, Mom called us inside to watch the black and white TV that came on two times a week for an hour, featuring either a ballet or a Leonard Bernstein’s Concert for Young People. I was fascinated, but my brother kept asking when he could go outside again!

And so it was that we created our own preoccupations in our abundant free time. My favorite times were 1.) Creating a Chinese restaurant in our garage. 2. Establishing a second home in our white pine in the backyard. 3. Wandering in the woods catching poison ivy for the umpteenth time... the blisters being the price I paid for being in heaven!

Why I Started Drawing

If I was in the house, Mom provided the traditional games and cards, sheets for tents, and art supplies for drawing and painting. We had lots of construction paper, crayons and watercolors. (Markers had not been invented yet. Gasp!)

folk art daisy collage by baby boomer woman artist

The two main reasons I developed as an artist are:

1. We had lots of free paper:

My Dad was one who believed, “Waste not, want not.” He was an accountant and brought home box after box of computer paper. In the 50’s, this paper was without those irritating side tabs, but it was large white paper with printing on one side. And, because my dad worked for the Rock Island Arsenal and U.S. Government, he cautioned us not to let these papers blow around the neighborhood letting loose the government secrets. We stared at him with awe, knowing full well that secret agents lurked behind the plum trees and rhubarb out back. And so it was I was surrounded with thousands of blank papers that I could use any way I wanted and not have to worry about cost. And, enamored I was.

2. I loved the outdoors and observing detail:

I loved drawing pictures of animals and flowers and fish. In my time outdoors, I observed details, like which weed housed the teddy bear caterpillars. I watched details of the shadows of their fuzzy selves, how many legs they had, and how two of their legs looked like they came from their head. I examined everything closely and retained those images, and that is why I could draw well at an early age.

Once, in 1st grade I was awarded for a large poster I drew of an owl. To this day, I remember the adults looking down at me, remarking how marvelous the owl was, and wondering how such a young person could draw such an amazing owl. And, I remember so distinctly how amazed I was at their wondering. I thought, “Well, gee, it’s not that hard. You just look at an owl and draw his shape.” Really, almost with this ‘What’s your problem?’ attitude, because I really disliked being the center of attention. I got many awards after that throughout the school years and I always felt so bothered, like, not this again. (article continues)

Keep reading about Baby Boomer Folk Artist Marti Sullan on page two.

Marti Sullan lives in Fairbury, Illinois and makes hand-drawn, homemade original art. Her framed collages run from $25 - $175. She also sells bookmarks of dolls, quilts and nature for $6. Click on Author Bio at end of article to see her work.

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  1. kay kerns

    Wonderful article and I love your artwork Encouraging creative expression and arts and crafts in young people is so important

    • marti sullan

      Thank you Kay. It was fun to recall the growing up years and how it helped me to develop my artistic side. The students inspire me as much as I hope I inspire them. I watch them working with the various art supplies and just have to try them when at home.

  2. Tina-Boomerina


    I love your work. Add more!

    Tina Boomerina

    • marti sullan

      Thanks, Tina. I love the holidays but also the free time coming with the New Year and so I hope to fill the many empty frames I've collected. Thanks for letting me write for your website. I appreciate it!

  3. A.Marie

    Marti is my neighbor....and she is amazingly talented!! I am so very lucky to have one of her wonderful framed collages hanging in my bedroom! She also made me a bookmark of my favorite childhood doll.

  4. Beth Muller

    Marti, You are a blessing! Thank you for sharing your time and talents with so many!