DEEP DIVE:

how it feels to be ME…

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This is the call prospectus; I will somehow communicate visually to you (since I am a visual artist) the feeling of being Bipolar. My inner workings, tickings, thinkings: the fears and joys, ups and downs, backward-and-forward loves and hatesALL the fuzzies , and the rough edges, swirly thoughts and bumps in the road BLOCKS.

In living color. Will it be beautiful? Perhaps in the fact that I am pouring myself into the page, translating feelings like a electric current running thru my heart to yours. Can it be done? Yes, because that IS what I do, always, in my art. Not to say the feelings come across in all my work to each and every viewer, but it is ultimately what motivates me to create.

. I AM a Bipolar Creative, and I am compelled to create to express this state of being.

“Oh, it’s so easy for you to paint things.”

Is it? Anyone can learn to create a likeness, with practice and will.

But no one can squeeze their very essence into a creative work the way I do without strong emotion, taxing effort, mental strain, soaring delight and, at times, great agitation and even physical pain. Yes, I have heard other Artists, many technically great and successful who purport no emotional contortions are necessary to create great art.

That is not true for me.

My art soothes my frantic racing brain which runs away at breakneck speed when certain conditions are met. Or the melancholy, dark days when I seek the relief of soothing, deep blues and greens..

Yes, I do love this Bipolar life of mine, and I’m glad to be who I am. I am proud to share myself in my art. I hope it helps a friend some future day, to put their feelings on the page…

That Happy Poor Girl

“It’s ALL a gift…”

(or That Poor Happy Girl)

I am happy to be that poor girl…really! I have spent many days and hours working for very wealthy folks, and I am fine with my more humble surroundings. I see sparse, stark interiors; lots of steel, lots of neutrals. Blah. Bluk.

I suppose it’s alright for a little while, just as soaring ceilings might do for a bit. But it’s just not my thing. I’m a cottage kind of girl, a cabin kid, happy in a hovel, at home in a trailer, a caravan, a tent.

I do enjoy running water, electricity and heat/ac at the ready, though. “Younger me” was more of a survivalist, but my poor hands have arthritis now and wouldn’t be able to hold a match to start a fire. So yeah, electricity is pretty necessary.

. Today I worked some hours on the road. I never told you, but I’m what they call a “gig” driver now. So I tote around a lot of different types of people. Today I was reminded to be grateful, after delivering some privileged little teenagers to a “European Waxing Salon”. Uh, yeah. They were speaking in hushed tones about homeless people, and how scary Miami is now. I actually joined in, and felt ashamed afterwards. Who do I really think I am? I’ve been listening to some music I like from some years back, and an Everlast song keeps going thru my head. Some of the lyrics say,

” Then you really might know what it’s like…the have to lose…”

I had forgotten to be grateful. I’m not out on the street, sleeping under overpasses, stealing liquor, shooting coke…I’m not out beating people up, or stealing from my Grandma. I’m not out ripping and running…

Anymore .

I have to keep it real, keep it fresh. I don’t deserve anything I have. It’s all a gift.

This is my old tomcat, George. He came up to me in my driveway one dark night a couple months ago. Could hardly walk, ears tattered and bloody, one eye squinted shut. All his backbone was showing, all his ribs. A big lump on his side; he could hardly walk and his meow sounded like a cough.

But he’s here right now, on my warm lap. Purring his messed-up little head off. Does he want to live in the Taj Mahal? Well, maybe…but he seems pretty content right where he’s at.

Busting Out All Over/Head Banging

DID you ever feel so immobilized that you wanted to EXPLODE?!? WELL, I DO!! I am so sick of myself, so tired of being tired, so FRUSTRATED at my own inertia that I could scream. I don’t think it’s “Long Covid” . I think it’s ” I’m a Super Lazy LOSER!!”

(as I look back on this post I see that during this “Lazy Spell” I created all the following pieces!!!

Argh. Maybe it is the Long Covid thing. I hate sitting still, but moving makes me exhausted!! Wendy Whiner on the rampage again. I must get out of myself. I get on a roll, painting my heart out, some of my best work, it’s SELLING! AND Splat! Headfirst,I dive, right into the couch. Any headwind suddenly gone without a whisper of a complaint from Miss Michelangelo… See: Loser.

It will come again, the big Wind from Winnetka…( Those of you who know, KNOW.) And man, when it comes I’m going to paint my little butt off. Before it blows right out of town again. This time I’m going to harvest that energy and run with the ball, baby!! Just wait and see. I’ll get it right this time…Peace-out.

And Her Name Is…

“…and I am all locked up inside a tiny, empty box of a mind…”

Writing used to be a source or therapy for me. My private world of imaginary confidences, unseen friends who listened intently and loved me fiercely. I would share my deepest wishes and dreams, safely. A sense of comfort would come from answers to my problems and daily pains, answers that I know came from inside of me (because I’m the only one here, ya know?) but that seemed like they came from a guide. This inner guide is always here, and I’m not talking about my conscience or “higher power”. No, this “inner voice” ususally sounds like my Mom. Mom when she wasnt fussing at me, or angry at me. Mom at her best friend/ Mom best. A sister, a twin… a smarter twin.

I know I can write anytime, any where; I used to fill volumes of spiral notebooks. They are all here somewhere, buried in boxes, closets and sheds. When I got my first laptop thirty (THIRTY?) years ago, I had a private journal. But we artists have such egos, and on some level I thought someone out there would benefit from my self examination, rumination and basic self-pity. So I “went public” with my thoughts. For a while, even perhaps a year or two, I still felt the feeling of off-loading and relief after a writing session. I was honest and open and the feelings flowed out, just as they do in my other art.

After a while though, I started getting anxious about what I would write, how much I would share, who were my readers and what content they wanted. Would anyone “like ” my entry? Was I furthering my art “career” or hindering it? was I being too spiritual or sharing too personal information? My writing style, was it easy to digest or too flowery…ad nauseum.

It has progressed to the point now till no longer look forward to sitting down with my imaginary sister, she has disappeared into the shadows deep inside my mind. I miss her, and really need to find her again. I still create my beautiful art, but my poetry voice is silent and has been for a long time. I am filled with a sadness , a longing to share my heart with her. I think she just got tired of my insincerity, always trying to be “ON” for an audience, always trying to impress. I traded my muse for a star that not only faded, it never rose in the first place. And I feel a chill when I see this empty page.

I must find her, see if she will listen when I tell her how much I need her. That all this fandom and chasing sales is a bunch of baloney. Losing her just takes the shine off of it all, and I am all locked up inside a tiny empty box of a mind. It’s a cliche at this point, but a mind is a terrible thing to waste. I always wondered what her name was, this friend who comforts me so, who helps me figure out which direction to take and who gives me that pat on the back when the going gets rough. I know her name now: it’s Sanity.

The Days of Trouble Begin

“…I will carry the Hurt. But it will NOT defeat me…)

A guy can be going along so well, everything chugging along, when suddenly; the bottom falls out of the world. Just when it seemed like smooth sailing.

Is that shocking to me? Shouldn’t be. I’ve felt like Wile. E Coyote many times. This time was different. This time is different.

Until the day comes that I can speak, I will paint. I will draw. And I will carry the Hurt. But it WILL NOT defeat me.

Inside I am safe, free, loved, cherished.

For The Love of DETAIL

The Magic Bus

New art, the tiny line moving across the canvas. my pin-dot imaginary School Bus driving thru a blazing white desert.(That’s funny, a School Bus! Why not a Mach I , or a horse or something? I’m such a child inside). I spend a lot of my day trying to figure out if I’m processing information properly. An internal , endless dialogue. Does everyone have this? it is very tiring. Life in general can be very tiring, but when my little Bus drives around: we find wonderfully exotic places, and we cavort with incredible animals and people. I’m so grateful to have this outlet.

I am so elated to be creating for the sheer joy of it. No calls, no commissions: just joy.

The Mural Dream of a Cool Kid

“I was high on life, and probably paint fumes and Columbian Gold…it felt cool…”

THE MURAL DREAM

Mural painting is fine art today. Just as great frescoes in the days of Michelangelo, and centuries before, large scale art is an artist’s dream. Is that why children inevitable write in crayon on the playroom walls?

I am sure of this: As long as I have been able to appreciate fine art and my burning desire to depict what I see thru it: I have wanted to paint murals. At times, in my youth, I exercised this need, painting in spray enamel on any available wall in the dead of night. “HELLO WORLD!” in six foot tall red letters over a grinning, fanged 30 foot tall caricature, scrawled on an underpass along I-95 southbound. Painted in 1985, before the Interstate had even made it to West Palm beach. Ah, what satisfaction to drive by it in the backseat of Dad’s Mazda, grinning silently.

These were days before I heard of graffiti culture, I was a transplant to the largely undeveloped east coast of Florida an hour north of Fort Lauderdale. These were the days when the County Sherriff had bricks of coke and bales of weed being dropped on his private airstrip a few miles north of my house. I hung out with a bunch of dudes who owned a race car shop, building mid-engine Mustangs and drag racing on Glades Cut-off Road.

Before Race-day one weekend, the boys let me use all the leftover spraypaint in the shop to paint huge murals of fire breathing dragons and heavy metal chicks everywhere. I was high on life, and probably paint fumes and Columbian gold. What a rush, the guys all in amazement at my grand design. Now I was a real artist, a legend at the shop, “The Girl Who Painted Barrel Road “. Now I knew how Michelangelo must have felt when he unveiled the Sistine Chapel for the Pope! (Unveiled it? How, exactly?) Well, anyway, it felt cool.

FASTFORWARD NOW, 25 years clean and sober, a professionally recognized fine artist in my own right. Now living in St. Petersburg, Florida which hosts the annual “SHINE” mural festival, an event which brings mural artists and fans from all over the globe, and I’m still dreaming.

I know it will happen, I will have a wall to call my own. I will keep pushing, keep striving, keep believing. After all, I was born on the sixth day of March- the same day as Michelangelo!

NO-vid

“I’m back in Black and White, and better than EVER!”

I must say, Covid was no picnic. But I have much to be grateful for, so I won’t whine. My work is selling and I am in 3 gallery shows at once…reason to DANCE and SHOUT! This Saturday, October 8th,2022 is ArtWalk. I am excited to AGAIN have work at

Five Deuces Galleria! The show is entitled “BLACK and WHITE with a Touch of Color”, and I love the theme. It really had me pushing myself to new artistic heights and I created the BEST Suncatcher to date! Unfortunately, my Surface Pro is in the throes of Death, so I can’t post an image just yet. But I will, never fear, Dear Reader! I’m back in Black and White, better than EVER!

Mania Illuminata goes home!

Me and my shadow!! It has been a long trip but she found a good home!!

WHAT a great show this was at Five Deuces Galleria down in St Petersburg this month! I had really been trying to get in a show at this gallery, I felt early on that it would be a good fit for my work. I was right! I have made some excellent connections and am working on my entries for their next show, “Black and White with a touch of color!

I am really excited to have my piece in an important local collection, and I see great things ahead! Let’s keep pushing on!

“Ooo, the Girl is GROUCHY!”,

“That’s ENOUGH! Now, suck it up and get to work!”

I used to feel such spontaneity when I used this site. I was able to let out all my angst, the ups and downs of life: just let it float.

letting things float, like in this painting, “Utopia Parkway”©SusanTMartin

Then I decided it was high time I got serious about my art, in a financial sense. After all, that’s what artists are supposed to do right? Look for angles, ways to promote myself, improve my lot in life. My life is already half over, so make hay while the sun shines, right?

This bit of creativity I titled, “The Master Worker”©SusanTMartin

. Wrong. My rebellious side decided I don’t need anyone to finance my art. I can scrape by. I will be discovered by accident. So I lost all my wind in my sails. I will try very hard to gather myself together.

That’s ENOUGH!

Now, Suck it Up and Get to Work!!

Ok, ok, I did, I am!

Knowing I’m a Rabbit…

…Doesn’t Keep Me from Running…

…Or Digging Burrows…

I thought that I could escape the pitfalls of being Bipolar if I could recognize the phases. That I could help others understand me, if I could just explain what I’m experiencing.

Why do I want you to understand me? I have wanted to be loved and accepted forever. As long as I have been alive.

I mean, everybody does, don’t they?

Don’t they?m

I don’t think I am like other people. That’s a stupid thing to say. I KNOW I’m not like others. I used to be glad I was different, at least I pretended to like it.

Artist, Paint thyself Well Again…

“I’m climbing out, reaching out…climbing back on that wild-eyed pony…”

“The Gathering” WIP©STMartin2022

Where are You, my Muse?

“Dishes at 2AM”©SusanToddMartin2022

Oh, I’m here…Don’t fret. It’s not time to see me again, not yet. Gotta get your head straight, let the psych meds work, get your butt off the couch- don’t give up like a jerk…

. Well, I guess I deserved that, although it’s not my fault that the pharmacy messed up my mind by messing around with my meds… One must never go off one’s Lamictal…no no no. Makes one feel quite spacey.

“May The Teal Cat of Happiness Purr in your Ear” WIP ©STMartin2022

I battled a major depressive episode after my highdee-high whirlwind of art shows and kudos, grant proposal mania and a brief internship with a famous metal artist who probably thinks I’m a real whack-job…he wouldn’t be too far from wrong woodee?

Art Heals Show 2022

Yeah, I was on a 🌊 wave…and, boy, did the walls come crashing down. Even paranoia this time, thinking the local art community was against me…that’s a new wrinkle in the bipolar lasanga of symptoms.

“Salvator Mommy-Savior of Cats and Bipolar Daughters”©SusanToddMartin2022

. Could the fact that COVID conspired with 2 Therapists quitting (to the end that I haven’t had a talk session in person in over 2 years) have a hand in screwing with my mental state? Or the lockdown isolation? Or the disappointment of my seeming failure to land any grant or mural call I applied for? Ummm…yeah. I fell way down the rabbit hole…

. I think I’m on an upswing, tho’. I’m hoping so. My creativity escaped me for some weeks. Plus I battled a horrendous bout of acute Bronchitis that layed me out big time…

I’m climbing out… reaching out…Getting back on my wild eyed pony…

War Horse WIP ©SusanToddMartin2022

Where is Captain Jack?

“…maybe all artists…go thru periods of feast followed by famine…”

STUCK IN THE DOLDRUMS…

waiting for the TIDE…

There was a song I knew, back in my past life(when I was that other ‘cooler’ girl) entitled “When Will It Rain”. It plays in my head now: I walk on parched ground in my mind, thru a sweltering heat in a huge, empty landscape. Begging for the rain of Creativity to wash this dry spell away, saturate the soil of my aching mind, send cooling rivulets of inspiration into the cracks and fissures…

In one of the “Pirates” movies, the ship was stuck in the Doldrums. A very real occurrence for sailing vessels, this is a dire situation for the crew as the film depicts. I can imagine their suffering, stuck virtually motionless in the very water that also gave them so much bounty at other times of year.

Such is my plight as a Bipolar artist. Who knows, maybe all artists, all people, go through periods of feast followed by famine. Maybe I just feel it more acutely, or respond to it differently. This ‘stuckness’ is deadly for me, it frightens me into believing that my artistic talent is gone forever, like a well run dry. In reality, it is natural to experience some down time, it is even recommended to take vacations to ‘recharge’ and ‘renew’.

I know in my heart that I will be in fire with creative endeavors soon, and I will successfully sail to the next sighted port of call…but my disease tells me I’m dying in this vessel, surrounded by all the paint in the world, and not being able to lift my brush…

AWAY…

There are months when I sail along. Then there was April. Ouch.

Work in Progress: The Old Grove

Bipolar Disorder has a whole bag of tricks it can put to use on me, it used all of them. I let myself believe I didn’t need more than 3 hours sleep per night. In fact, thot I, I don’t need to sleep for 72 hours…48 is just too easy!

Spring on the Gulf

I’m so glad I don’t have schizophrenia. I deal with enough psychosis from insomnia.

I hope to be creating more very soon. Right now I’m working on a little 16×20 landscape , and at the end of April I had entered 5 works into INSIGHTS V. So I’m kind of easing in to new ideas. Let it flow, baby!

The Healing

and The “Salvator” Mommy

. (And THE LAVENDER CAT!)

Being still is very difficult for me mentally. Having a racing mind is the natural state of being for me, anything else is alien and uncomfortable. If I’m flitting about inside I can leap away from my disturbing thoughts as soon as they appear- it’s a constant dance to keep the wolves at bay. My faith has helped tame the beasts lurking my memory’s deeply scarred terrain, knowing that there is a force for good stronger than the pull of caustic quicksand that daily tries to suck me in.

Here is the divine painting now!

I will dance this mental quick-step until death swallows me, the wounds of prolonged sexual abuse and violence are the deepest kind, years of therapy have given me some tools to offset the devastating effects of PTSD a bit. My Bipolar Disorder causes my synapses to fire differently than “normal” folk, this is proven by science, I believe this is a reason I am plagued so frequently by the flashbacks and memories.

me standing tall at the recent ART HEALS show at The Arts Exchange, St Pete, FL.
USA

My art is my outlet to “talk” about my inner world, it facilitates compassion and understanding in some viewers. Others will still judge my moral failings, and when these judgements slap me in the face I am better able to stand rather than crumble.

I recently was assaulted by an attempted character attack, called a liar and thief to my happy face-dashed by a loved one’s belief that I was still the person of 22 years ago when my addiction raged. It stunned me, unhinged me for a time- but I am bouncing back; hurt but not letting these untruths detail my sanity completely.

. This is all I can write, the healing is still in progress. Thank God for my loving friends in high places who know my inner heart and the fact that 22 years of sobriety, therapy and spirituality allowed me to leave that dishonest personality long ago.

A Quote in the INSIGHTS IV catalogue
Me and Joyce Sang, co-founder of The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, and my featured piece, Deep Running(framed in an acrylic box to highlight BOTH painted sides of the canvas!)

I will paint and create art that reflects my journey, this soothes my troubled mind and gives me the most relief. Thank you so much for your continued support on my artistic journey

“Salvator Mommy” Savior of Cat’s and Bipolar Daughters, Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas
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