The Duality of My Artistic Self

Depicting my own image has been a starting point my work from the beginning. As a child my drawings were always of female faces, although I never consciously realized these were reflections of me. Even then, in my earliest work, the duality of my nature is blatantly apparent.

.  The faces I drew were always divided, half usually in darkness, or different in other ways. I did not know I was Bipolar then, I just had a burning need to express myself artistically. I was not properly diagnosed until I got clean and sober at the age of 35 after a drugging career that lasted over twenty three years.

. I had always known I was different, I described the feeling of being “painted green”in a room full of “normal” folk. It was like having something tattooed on my forehead, a conspicuousness. When I dug into my diagnosis, learning all I could in the hopes of finally coming to grips with my self destructive life’s course, I could see all the familiar signs in the literature. It made SO much sense! Now, armed with my new sobriety and determined to stay the course on my psychiatric medication regimen, I set out to turn my life around-to leave the wasteland of my past far behind.

.  There was a slight glitch in my plan, however. The new meds that I was taking had a very unwelcome effect. They dulled my creative impulses, they slowed my manic phases down to a crawl. Rather than my giddy highs and freewheeling episodes of excess that I had lived for, and that had been killing me, I was now just a level hum. No taught guitar string playing harmonics, I was now m e l l o w…Too mellow. Where were the bright colors, the whirling merry go rounds and my peals of crazy laughter? All of the sudden I was boring and frumpy, and immune to excitement. I actually slept…alot.

.  This is the part of a healthy mental health regimen that causes so many Bipolar individuals to “go off” their meds…but I had lost that option when I decided to stay alive. I had to make this work, I had to stick this out, because the alternative was suicide. Whether thru a drug overdose or tragedy from high risk behavior, I knew that sticking this out meant my very survival. Would I have to be a zombie? Was my wildly creative side lost to me forever? What to do?

.  Fortunately, I had a therapist (counselor ) who listened, and I had the determination to tell her my discomfort. It took the better part of two years, and many different drug combinations , much discomfort and many tears to find a plan that worked, but we did not give up. Finally, I felt comfortable in my own skin, most of the time.

I still have highs and lows, and I am still a rapid cycling Bipolar person with PTSD. I still suffer from chronic insomnia and flashbacks, severe depressive episodes and ideation at times. But I never, ever want to destroy this beautiful gift of life, or to disrespect my Creator. It’s a long road, but the view is great!

Now that all that is said and done, the point I was getting at was that at a point a few years ago, talking to my therapist about my art, and showing him my work I had an epiphany ! BI-polar, TWO-sided! All the faces I drew and painted had told the tale from childhood! As we continued to go through my portfolio, it came rushing home to me. I paint myself as I am, and thru my art I am able to understand and put together all my different facets! I am constantly learning, healing and growing as an artist, and I am

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Self Portrait 4AM(detail)
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Flashback 937(detail)
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“Peckish”(detail)
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“Mania Illuminata” sold
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“Mania illuminata” sold
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“Growth”(detail)
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“100 Must-Have Looks”(detail)
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“A Big Beak”(detail)
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“yearning”(detail)
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“Visionaria”sold

so grateful that I did not give up on myself!

.  If anyone out there is fearful of a mental illness diagnosis, please give yourself a chance to get well. Don’t be afraid to seek help, because I’m here today as an example of the kind of life that is possible if one keeps pushing on! You can feel better!

Above are just a few recent examples of the many sides of my bipolar self I paint…

Growth is Morphing

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!

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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!”

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This is My Signature Style and there is No mistaking it! “Growth” a work in progress, by Susan T. Martin

 

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Crossing the Delaware, Well Aware, acrylic on canvas, Susan T. Martin, 8/11/17
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Detail, George from Crossing the Delaware WellAware, acrylic on Canvas, Susan T. Martin, 2017
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Detail, Crossing…Well Aware…Susan T. Martin, 8/2017

“YEARNING” by SUSAN T. MARTIN

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.

WIN_20180609_04_57_20_Pro (2)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…WIN_20180609_04_57_20_Pro (4)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 :

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A detailed look at , “Yearning” , a close-up of the center of the piece, illuminated from behind the canvas.