The Lehigh Valley has been bustling with the onset of spring weather; it is obvious that the sunshine and warmer temps are finally renewing the community.
We here at the Arts Council office experienced our first glimpse of spring when we had the pleasure of welcoming our friend, Sylvia Woolf Gallop, to our office with her newest collection of work. In she walked with a warm smile, presenting us with equally warming scenes of florals and landscapes. My, what a breath of fresh air!
Sylvia understood our reaction to her work. She commented, “I think we all needed to see spring, even it if is through my eyes.”
Through Sylvia’s experiences, she has found enthusiasm from the individuals she has met through working at Crayola, especially from the young generations who she describes as “the future.” Her eyes sparkle as she reminisces about the artists she’s encountered over the years and the work they’ve produced. Though Sylvia feels inspiration from these budding artists, we are positive that with her vibrant love of art, she has spread much inspiration throughout her career.
Thank you, Sylvia, for sharing with us your lovely paintings as well as your story!
What is your background in art, and how did your fine art journey evolve?
I began painting watercolors in 1972, taking classes at Northampton Community College, the Baum School of Art, and with many other artists in workshops offered by various arts organizations. I painted weekly with a group of artists, and especially enjoyed plein-air painting experiences, which taught me to appreciate the beauty of nature. It was during these early learning experiences that I discovered many watercolor painting art techniques, and still keep experimenting with new ideas.
I also exhibited my artwork in various local art shows. In the warmer weather I displayed my paintings at outdoor venues. Soon I began selling my artwork and accepted many commissions. A popular item over the years was, and still is, house portraits. During my entire painting career I have been inspired by travel experiences, both domestic and abroad.
Because of family and career commitments with Crayola, I spent less time in my studio. While working, I also attended Moravian College in the evening and during the summer months to earn a dual degree in Studio Art and Psychology. During this time my career was also enhanced with Crayola, providing me with rich experiences in art education. My career provided me with a wide range of art-focused learning opportunities.
My personal belief is that there is a time for everything in life, so the “time off” from daily studio work was traded for an awesome career that taught me much about the arts overall. Now it is time to paint in my studio each day, with plans to sell artwork online.
How do you keep your skills current? Have you taken any classes or learned new techniques?
At this time I have haven’t taken any classes, but I had much inspiration when working as the Education Programs Specialist at The Crayola Factory, now The Crayola Experience in downtown Easton. While there I developed the education venues, hired artists for artists-in-residence programs and others to teach art classes. I also taught watercolor classes, summer art camp classes, workshops and teachers’ professional development classes. I also learned many new art techniques from the artists hired to teach classes. Ironically, I found that I learned from the children that I taught. Kids are so open and honest with their artistic creations.
Your work in this collection focuses on uplifting and light natural scenes, both floral and landscapes. Are these subjects what you are drawn to typically? What other subjects do you enjoy painting?
It’s interesting that you mention “uplifting and light natural scenes.” My sense is that an artist communicates their inner voice and personality, along with environmental inspiration when creating a piece of art. My art work reflects my hopeful spirit, and yes my love for nature. When creating pottery, my works have been described as organic in shape. That’s just me! This exhibit does feature floral and landscape paintings, which is a testimony of “environmental inspiration” at that time of my life. I am drawn to many wonderful subject matters each day, like unexpected shadows cast in a sunlit room, my cat Lulu, and many other everyday inspirations. I have to admit that I most likely will not create any profound, meaningful and dark art that might speak of today’s world ~ I prefer to keep things uplifted, light and add a little hope along the way.
I have been fortunate to travel to Europe several times, both as part of an educational program and personally. I have visited Italy twice, Germany, Austria, England, France, Ireland and Nanimo Island, British Columbia. My husband Jack and I have traveled to the Grand Cayman Islands for 20 plus years, once to St. Martin. We have also traveled extensively throughout the U.S. I have gathered so much inspiration from all of these wonderful places. I have created many pieces of artwork that was inspired by these travel experiences.
While at Crayola, you had much involvement connecting with the arts community and inspiring future artists. What impressed you about the new work of the next generation?
I especially loved the artwork created by elementary students. Their artwork was created before kids become jaded — so expressive and honest.
I also enjoyed working with college level students for the art grant purchase programs. The students receiving monetary grants had their artwork become part of the Crayola Corporate Art Collection. Each piece of art reflected not only great talent, but clearly expressed each student’s uniqueness. I valued each piece of the art as it graced the walls of the company. Actually, some of the student artists have become recognized professionals in their field. I also managed a grant program to provide art products to students. One honoree was a Navajo Native American – we have remained friends over the years, and we were even invited to his wedding.
I am happy to assert that the arts are in safe hands with the next generation. Young talent continues to fascinate me.
How do you connect yourself to the local arts community? What arts and cultural experiences do you take part in?
Actually, I was much more involved in the local arts community when working. I was immersed in many local organizations, and in addition, attended various conferences in New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans. I also took part in community art program outreach on behalf of company.
Ironically, now that I am retired, I have yet to rejoin organized art groups other than the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. However, my husband and I enjoy visiting museums in New York City and Philadelphia, and we regularly see Broadway shows in New York.
With your retirement from Crayola, you’ve returned to the studio. How are you pursuing the business side of art?
Previously I sold my artwork the old-fashioned way, either at exhibits or through commissions. I realize that I have to become part of this world and develop new methods to reach potential buyers. My plan is to begin selling artwork online, and I am in the process of learning the details to make this happen. I am also feverishly working in the studio to build up my painting inventory.