I have been languishing here, letting myself fall off the edge of sanity for a while. Is it physical?emotional?spiritual? No, not spiritual, for I feel close to my Creator. I just feel diminished, somehow, like my life’s blood has been watered down. Perhaps when the rainy season ends I will blossom again. Till then, my friend, bear with me…
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
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…
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.
“A Big Beak”(detail)
UNCHAINED, UNCUFFED, Mixed Media on Board, $400.00 (Available)
Flashback 937, mixed media on 28″ x 24″canvas, by Susan T. Martin
Legacy of Lunacy, Mixed Media on Canvas, 24″x 28″, $500.00 framed, (available)
The Waterplant, mixed media on canvas by Susan T. Martin
We’re All Innocent, mixed media on 36″ x 24″canvas, by Susan T. Martin $400.00
Detail of Isolationism,Watermedia and ink, 9 x11 by Susan T. Martin
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.
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.
I was so thrilled to have 2 of my sculpture/assemblage pieces on display! As a new member of the Vero Beach Art Club, I was able to have my work in this exclusive show, and am so happy it was well received! I was not permitted to photograph any art except my own, which was disappointing but understandable to me, so I can’t share the other Phenomenal Artwork displayed. I saw AMAZING THINGS!, and am more motivated than ever to continue striving for my own best work…Onward and Upward!! Only the foreground artwork, entitled “Lunar Rover” and assembled from a discarded floor lamp, broken concrete block, an antique German hunting horn, and many, many thing-a-ma-jigs, and whos-it-ma-bobs. The piece was well recieved and is still available for purchase! c.SusanToddMartin2017
I also showed “Munson, a Treasured Friend”, which you have seen posted here multiple times. (I’ll post it one more time as it is still available for purchase. (A little background on “Munson”: I sculpted this Cat Head originally from a block of molded fine concrete, using traditional chisels. This was then coated with sealant and then painted with acrylics to match the markings of my mom’s beloved cat of 20 years. He was then decked out with treasured heirlooom vintage and costume jewelry, including semi-precious gems, gold and sterling. Each piece meant something to me, hand me downs from dear, departed loved ones and friends. I made this sculpture for a local art show, which required entries to be “treasure themed” , celebrating the “Treasure Coast” here in Florida. This area is so named for all the shipwrecks discovered off the coast of Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie and Stuart, these vessels laden with gold and treasures gleaned from North America and destined for Spain and Europe.
My creative process for this piece included images from old pirate and Sinbad movies, where chests full and overflowing with glistening jewels were depicted. These movies filled my childhood dreams, as did an unshakable love of my mother, who was my greatest treasure, and who I had recently lost to Cancer.
In turn, Munson was her treasure, ever a comfort in her troubled life, who lay by her side, faithfully, as she fought , and finally succumbed to cancer.
I hope you enjoy Munson, knowing, as you now do, how much love he carries beneath all his gleaming sparkles!
Sorry about the sound, I’m not sure why it buzzes. It does not do that when I view the video in my pc’s media app… But enjoy this anyway! (please, and Thank You!)