The Brave Drawn World of Chip Sullivan

The Brave Drawn World of Charles ‘Chip’ Sullivan

Chip Sullivan has been inspiring thousands of students at the University of California at Berkely, for almost thirty years. His distinctive style, graphic ability, and creative enthusiasm are simply infectious.

The door of Prof. Sullivan’s office at UC Berkeley

Professor Sullivan is a landscape architect and artist who maintains a lifelong commitment to the exploration of the garden as a sustainable environment. He devotes his career to promoting landscape architecture as an art form. Chip has expounded on the meaning and perception of the landscape through innovative forms of pedagogy, representational techniques, and writing. The philosophy and application of sustainable design, through art and ecology, has been a constant topic lectured upon throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. His graphic work, illustrating the balance between humans and nature, has been exhibited in galleries throughout the world. Chip’s site-specific environmental installations incorporate optical devices such as the Claude Mirror, Spectra Scope and Camera Obscura to heighten the observer’s perception and insight of landscape. He is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Rome Prize and the author of a considerable number of books, most notably the best seller Drawing the Landscape, a popular textbook used in landscape architecture courses on drawing.

 

Cartooning the Landscape

Sullivan’s most recent book Cartooning the Landscape is framed by a loose narrative in which a young man’s search for wisdom is fulfilled by a comics shop owner who instructs him not only in the essentials of illustrating but in how to see. The book takes us on a whirlwind series of journeys and is also a plea, in an era increasingly dominated by digitally rendered images, for a new appreciation of the art of hand drawing.

Gonzo Gardens

The Gonzo Garden Series is inspired by three major forces: the California garden style of the 1940’s and 1950’s developed by Thomas Church and Garret Eckbo; the cubist gardens exhibited in the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes; and the spontaneous prose of Jack Kerouac, based on improvisational Jazz.

Steampunk Garden

Today our world’s mechanisms have mostly become minuscule and buried in plastic and silicon and we no longer see how things work. The Steampunk Garden intends to reveal insights into the hidden forces of nature and make visible the mechanical systems that power our landscapes. As a reaction to the sterile plastic world of contemporary technology, these landscapes expose the intersection of the garden and the machine with a Victorian sense of detail.s can be read either individually or together. They pose a controlled environment for observation, a means to look at content through a lens.

Specimen Jars: The Garden of Linnaeus

These specimen jars are inspired by the work of Carl von Linnaeus. . . Too often we think of the art of landscape as being limited to gardens and earth sculptures of human scale. When we miniaturize, categorize, and seal a landscape under glass, that landscape becomes precious, contained and therefore static. The garden in this form becomes a sacred object-a meditation on the relationship between nature, man and garden.

I love to draw! I love to draw almost more than anything else in the world. It brings me solace, excitement, and the thrill of experimentation. When I’m feeling low, drawing can make me happy. With a single sheet of paper and a mark-making tool, I can create whole new worlds. 

— Charles ‘Chip’ Sullivan

Chip Sullivan is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley.


More about Professor Chip Sullivan’s brilliant work and career can be seen on his website, gonzogardens.com.

 

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