An Artist with ‘ISSUES’

Facilitating Understanding the LINK /between\Trauma and CREATIVITY thru PUBLIC ART!

Hello Fellow Artists and Freak Show Fans! I am Susan Todd Martin of Out Of The Gutter Art. I would like to ease your mind: Feel free to just enjoy my art.

If you want to learn about Creativity and the Bipolar Brain, I am the Artist to talk to. First, I would like to give you a brief overview of my history as it relates to my Art. Born in the mid 60’s to “Hip and Groovy” parents, I seemed a healthy , happy kid. A natural creative powerhouse from the womb, I was given the nickname “Paper Factory”; inevitably I would have a small pile of construction paper, crayons and Legos around me, and those tiny snub-nose scissors nearby. (I also earned the nickname “Runs With Scissors” a bit later in life.) All seemed fine, but there were some glitches. I was extremely sensitive. To a raised voice, any sign of parental disproval, any hint of anger or discord had me on high alert. I actually felt for everybody.

I became a little clown, a distraction for my dysfunctional family-my antics could stop a row, halt an argument, make them all love each other again. Looking back I feel the deep pain even now. Because there was a lot of hatred in my family. Seeping it’s green, vile, snakey way thru the fabric of our lives. It’s not necessary to recite the bad things, you know. Little kids are Hurt, little girls are Hurt, teenage girls, biker chicks, addicts, alcoholics, wives. I’ve been all of them and I’ve been hurt. My Art and I participate in Art Shows featuring Survivors of Sexual Assault for Suncoast Center’s Rape/Crisis Center each year, and my Art and I are featured in Film and print in their Advertising. The prestigious Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation has held annual INSIGHTS Art Exhibitions showcasing the Work of Bipolar Artist like me, and I am honored to have received Grants and had my Art placed in their Permanent Art Collection for three consecutive years. Amanda Copper, curator of The Morean Arts Center Facilitated my Solo Pop Up Show entitled ‘Susan T. Martin , A Survivor’s Story during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month in 2019.

As a Survivor, these Artistic achievements just make me so grateful to the Mental Health Professionals whose years of study gives Bipolar persons hope of a full, healthy life today. My God, of course being my Greatest Healer, Advocate and “Fine”Art Instructor. Very fine, indeed.

The ART, tho’. The ART! This is the way to heal! Here is the path to freedom for my pent up pain. Out it comes, flowing rivers of shapes, colors, symbols, emotions. Painting me, painting my surroundings, even painting my housewares with brilliant currents of light! My PTSD flashbacks are soothed, my mania lessened by the act of creatingArt.

The Journey is the exciting part, and what I want to encourage you, dear reader and fellow creative, to embark on. All the years my creativity had been held down, all the years I was not letting the light flood into my heart, these are the years and days and hours I want you to SEIZE !!

We don’t have to be famous, or rich, or retired to unleash the joy our creativity evokes! Invest a few bucks in one really good Micron pen. Buy an inexpensive sketch pad to keep in the car. What about an adult coloring book, or a KIDS coloring book. That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout friend!! The excitement we had when the teacher would set those brand new boxes of crayons out… And the sheaf of bright construction paper! Remember the smell of the art room? Or the feel of the little blue smocks? Did you look over your classmates shoulder… Or were you hiding your drawing like I was?


For me, I need to BE that KID again sometimes. Actually, quite often. And it keeps me riding “between the ditches” like they say up in East Cackalackey!

Let’s Get Busy and Have some Creative Fun!! Whoopee!!

You will find, whether here on this Website, or on Instagram, or Etsy; in the Artists Organizations I am a member of, in the local Studios and Venues of Saint Pete’s Art Districts, even in my little garden and humble studio- I am just full of it, and I want to share it with you!

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and do something brave. I have been sharing my Bipolar Diagnosis for years here on Out of the Gutter Art. But I wonder if you, dear reader, are becoming jaded by the sheer number of people, creatives and otherwise, who throw the term “Bipolar” around like it is a type of claim to fame?

Do you ever wonder if the peron has a “real” condition, one that is crippling emotionally, often goes hand in hand with very real physical illness and ALL TO OFTEN ends in death. I must admit, I hesitated to add the name of my mental illness to my name as a public artist. But I wanted to help people who also battle this illness. I have battled this disease so long(I was not correctly diagnosed and treated till age 35!) that I want to pave the way for those who come after. I dont share the fact that I am a survivor of violence to toot my own horn, or give me some imaginary ( and frankly twisted thinking here) EDGE, as if PTSD is a medal, or inclusion into some club- I share these things so that someone else can find hope and a way forward.

I remember being that 12 year old girl who was so awkward and uncomfortable in her own skin that self medicating just made me feel “normal”. The girl who wanted friends so badly that she didn’t tell on the grown men who raped her. That poor lost girl who felt so confused that she jumped out of a moving car and abused herself just to make the pain stop. I just wanted to feel normal and loved like everyone else, but this illness led to a 23 year spiral into addiction, alcoholism, being trafficked, assault, domestic violence, crime, jail and more suicide attempts.

I want to be a voice of hope. Science and medicine have advanced by leaps and bounds. Young people don’t have to go thru the painful experiences I did to finally get help.

I am moved to do this because I walked thru 20 miles and 56 years of burning coals to get where I am today. AND IT WAS A VERY LONG LONELY, LONELY, LONELY, LONELY ROAD. I would be so very happy if I could pour water on those coals for the Young people diagnosed with this sickness. So while it may annoy you that I tag myself as a “Relevant, Rapid Cycling and Recycling Bipolar Artist”, please just consider why I do this, Cause, hey, it sure doesn’t sell any art.

Did you ever look into Sir Frances Bacon’s Artist Biography? Or see images of his studio? The disorder I describe in my life pales, trust me. Mr. Bacon had some trauma issues too. You don’t need to be told, just see.

Just see. But please…See past it.

The Marriage Feast of King Turt and Brahma Mama©STMartin2021

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