My recent Work in Progress is really becoming something special! I have been experiencing much personal emotional growth, and really am expanding my horizons! The featured Image and this top one are my current work in progress, and the following three images are of my last year’s entry into the Insights II Bipolar Art Exhibition. I was proud to win a spot alongside the other ” founding” artist members of The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundations’ permanent collection, and my piece, “Crossing the Delaware, Well Aware” garnered more than it’s fair share of attention!
This year I again have the honor to have one of my works displayed in “Insights III” at the Zolla/ Liebermann Gallery in Chicago, on October 24th, 2019. I am working like crazy to get there this year as well, I just refuse to miss this show!
I am so pleased with this little beauty in progress, some wondered if I were a “one hit wonder” and this piece gives the resounding “NO! I have so much MORE yet to give!”
Wouldn’t we all like to know, right?
Yes! We all want to be a great “success” in our chosen field, and many artists have a clear idea of what they need to be successful. Speaking for myself, I thought success would mean the end of financial struggle, to a point. As a person with mental illness (Bipolar Disorder and PTSD for starters) and physical handicaps (use your imagination), I felt that my “happy day” would come when I could pay my bills and buy my art supplies, and eat what and where I wanted, with a few more bucks to put by.
I’ve been working toward that end for over 50 years now, and while my life has been unusual (to put it mildly), I fancied that with all my obvious creative talent my art would be sought after. Notice that I did not say “highly” sought after. No, I tried to be realistic-it would take some time to get well known, etc… Well, that day I envisioned, that “happy” future success day has not come. Big sigh, and big pity party…
. Wait. Just. One. Minute…
What am I talking about? All of my life I dreamed of a time when I could create my art whenever I wanted! I dreamed of pursuing My artistic vision! Did you, also? I have made that time for myself, I have chosen to pursue my artistic life no matter what my life circumstances. No time to paint? I get my paints out at 10 pm. some days. No where to paint? I live in a single wide mobile home, crammed to the gills with projects I’m working on! No money for canvas? I find things in the trash, at thrift stores, on ebay-cheap things that no one wants anymore- and I find ways to make them unique, colorful, extraordinary …
. At this very moment, right now, I have no bread in the house. No bread, about a half cup of milk and some ramen. (Not the “Cup o Lunch ” kind with the veggies either.) Not to get too personal, but 2-ply T-P. (Feel your little butt tighten up?) Am I crying the blues here? Making myself seem a martyr? An arter-martr? (sorry, I just had a silly moment…)
. No, I am telling you that I AM a success. I AM AN ARTIST SUCCESS STORY.
. Let that stew a moment: A 50-something improperly-art-educated-disabled-crazywoman-in-a-run-down-trailer-park-in-a-flood-zone-with-no-homeowners’ insurance-no-coffee-using-2-ply-TP is a SUCCESSFUL ARTIST?!?
Woop woop! Yup, that’s me!
. I have no looming prospects of fame, of a sudden, amazing “breakout” work, or even of a teeny weeny inheritance, but I am as happy as a clam in mud, happy as an accountant with a pen that works, happy as a rotund, pink, rather hairless, animal who squeals in a pile of feces!
I have chosen to live my Artist’s dream, to get up each day and paint a stroke, glue a something together, write a poem. I am not too broke to go get a gallon of milk or decent toilet paper, neither am I well off enough to buy the best brushes, or even decent canvas.
But I am an ARTIST. That is who I am, and that is what I make a conscious choice to do. Every day of my successful life. Hey, it’s wonderful to be on top, isn’t it?
. This is not just a litany of my own happiness with my art career, which I would define not really as a “career”, but as a life choice…No, I want to help YOU , dear reader, to see where your own happiness lies. What are you holding out as your carrot? What does your “success” look like? Are you, like so many, comparing where you are to what other artists are experiencing? Are you kicking yourself for not painting a still life, when that’s what Mr. Prize Winner painted in the last show? Were you let down when they announced the “winners” to the last member’s show you entered? (yeah, me too…) See what I mean? Are we longing for some recognition, some prize or award, another feather in our cap, while we miss the sensual sensation of paint flowing onto canvas ? Or the startling moment when that perfect shade of turquoise comes to life on our palette? Or, here’s one: The moment when you jump up saying ” Yes! I got it!” because the line you laid down is exactly where you want it to be?
. Yes, my artist friend, these are the true successes. I never want to be Michaelangelo wishing I was Davinci. Can you imagine? The creator of the “David” wishing he had painted the “Mona Lisa”? Thinking he was not a successful artist?
. Let us remember this wonderful gift we have now, and revel in it, delight in it! Then all of our art will be successful.
It has been an enormously trying year and one half, year and 8 months , actually. I have grown SO much since I have lived here in St. Petersburg, I have learned to believe in myself, and in my ability to survive.
As An ARTIST. In my own right, I have put in the footwork, stretched my boundaries, made the connections, painted the dreams, and PUT MYSELF OUT THERE!
Wow!!! I mean , WOW!
After All the Fear, Loneliness, Grief, Doubt, All chaining me down and holding me back… I did the impossible. I used my art and with God’s unfailing love, have set myself free! Yes, He saved me from the pit, and put my feet upon a crag, and then I, Susie, Sue, Susan Todd!
picked up the tools I gathered over the past 40 + years, and put them to Use! Hacking off the dead pieces, digging down to fresh clean soil to build this life on. This BEAUTIFUL LIFE, This Sensitive Life, This life of Love.
A life of true purpose and meaning… I am SO grateful, and full…I may just burst into a ball of colorful confetti!
I know it was not all me, but you know what?
I COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT ME!
So here is my tooting of my own horn, soaking up the satisfaction of a job well done and a future of hope and joy!
I am very proud to share that The Morean Arts Center in Downtown Saint Petersburg, Florida, has granted me the honor of a little pop up show in their beautiful facility! A show that features my art, my way, my innermost feelings, fears and flashbacks all on canvas, and OUT of me. So that I can help someone else see that you CAN have a life after violent sexual assault. After molestation, after rape, after domestic violence, after ALL the trauma … you can still find your own voice under all the rubble, and you can stand up, on your own again!
I want you to know that you can recover, but you must work at it and be steadfast in your desire to rise from the ashes of whatever you have experienced. I was surrounded by a family who never wanted to discuss what happened to me, and who treated me like I was touched by some uncleanliness. As if the person I was inside was somehow changed. Soiled. Ruined.
I stand up today, that same child, that same teenager, that same woman and I shout from the treetops that I am clean, and loved, and strong, and Beautiful! I am NOT what happened to me. I am a whole, healed woman. And I am an ARTIST.
This painting is Mixed Media on Canvas, 24″x 36″ signed and unframed.
It is the culmination of months of work and thought, and is now, finally, at a stage I can call finished. I think we have spoken to one another long enough, now I will let it speak to you. There are many ways one can interpret a work of art, and I am not going to dictate how you interpret mine. Let it speak to you in the language you understand. My work here is done.
waiting. longing. for relief to come.
Mixed Media on Canvas 20″x 16″ by Susan T. Martin
opening image is photographed with a light source behind the painting.
This image is under regular light, the source overhead. I enjoy adding a little hidden dialogue to the painting, that the viewer has to work for, and think about. For instance, rather than wishing on a star, our little lady on the far right edge of the painting is puking on one…Oh, and is that star on the forehead of a fallen statue that we are all so familiar with? (Let the viewer use discernment).
I wont give you anything else… Just look, and wonder…This is a fun little painting. I am showing you a detail here of the upper left quadrant of the piece. So much to see, so little time! and now , without further adieu, I give you this :
This was a big endeavor for me, and I believe I have painted at least three different paintings in the course of 2 years on this one canvas…That can be one of the downfalls of being ocd and bipolar, when I can’t let a thing be good enough or ever done.
So, here is the latest thought, the most beautiful and sad faced bird, and one that has had bestowed upon it men’s dreams and mankind’s heartbreaks, the Albatross…, I feel like this animal knows me, that she mirrors the exquisite alone-ness and yet oneness with all that I feel so often.
i REMEMBER SO VIVIDLY THE EXHILARATION OF BEING OUT ON THE OPEN WATER, THE SALT SPRAY KISSING MY FACE, AND NOTHING BUT THE GREAT EXPANSE OF SEA AND SKY SURROUNDING ME.