Woo Hoo ! I am an artist WHIRLWIND again! Hang on, cause art is flowing out of me in a torrent, and I need more hands. I am happy to be out of “funk town” for a while! I entered six shows in the past month and now have 5 paintings accepted into these shows . Four of the five shows. I can’t believe how things snowball. The piece above is a Work in Progress, one of my Surrealist pieces, with a working title of Angry Birds, a little pun on the silly game people play on their devices. I’m rethinking that right now, I may put people off by that. But who cares if I like it, right? Naming Art is the Artist’s privelege. Kind of like children; you made it, you name it! And here’s a fun little twist…how many Birds do you see?
I painted what I believe to be my best piece as far as figurative art, it’s an acrylic mixed media piece which is a statement piece about justice and human trafficking…It is named “Stuck in Traffic (Framed) and I will post it, and the one mentioned above as soon as I sign them in a few minutes here… Be patient, I had to lie down for a minute. I decided a while back that I must sign my work before I post it online… Silly, really, you can’t stop the thievery no matter what you do, if you decide to post your art online. I recently read a piece considering the benefit vs risk of putting your art online. If you decide not to you are missing out on reaching millions of people, perhaps billions. If you want to sell your art, and/or share it with an audience, then the risk is one you must take. Unless of course you are going to let it spead just by word of mouth. Then it would take 100 years telling 5 people a day to reach 182,500 people, if they did not tell anyone else. If each one told 5 others then… wait a minute, you get the idea. It would take a long time.
Impressionism is my dearest love, and I hope one day to paint like Pissaro, or maybe Gauguin… Of course I have my own style, and I concentrated more on my brushwork in this piece, and multicolored skin to show my feelings rather than accurate realism. I especially love the dramatic shadows, I tried to be brave! Like I’m not passionate enough, right? I’m proud of the results! I will list all the shows I’m in in the next few days, with their websites and dates…
How true, how true that Pennsylvania Dutch saying is. I squander my art endeavors, rushing from this deadline to that, frazzled, befuddled and unsatisfied. That may be what drove Van Gogh insane, the constant turmoil to do better. I am making the presumption that perhaps the rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder that I enjoy(!) was somehow effecting him, too. Many artists share this mental illness, I know that The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation has held Insights Art Exhibitions, to establish a permanent collection of works by artists who are effected by this disorder. I am proud to be one of the Founding Artists of that collection, and proud to know these beautiful people who have done so much to further research in the field.
Three years, three works of my art in this collection. It blows my mind, just as my art has been blowing peoples minds since I was a child. How easy I forget, and wallow in my mire. That is part of this disease also. The dark days, when no amount of internal dialogue can push me out of bed, out of the bleak landscape in my head. Do you think Van Gogh, or Matisse, or Dali had such dark times? What about Francis Bacon, Pollock, Warhol ?
Then why do I feel so alone in my efforts? Yes, I’m sure the worldwide pandemic has a dampening effect, on artists as well as everyone else. Perversely, I also treasure the isolation it affords me. No one can chastise my late hours, or visit to be aghast at the paint on my floor, on my walls, on me. I think I need to get out of the house more, go walk on the beach, visit a park. All things strange and alien nowadays. I know this will pass, I have been in counselling and under proffesionals care for my Bipolar Disorder and PTSD for nearly 30 years, I take my medication every single day, because I have been all the way down into the abyss and made friends with the monsters lurking there. Only to find out that they all wanted me dead. I don’t want to be dead. I can fully understand why I did, because this pain is all encompassing. I feel each cell screaming at me to give it relief.
The only thing I can do is paint myself into a painless reality, a utopia of color, a sweet dream of lavender and silk, a field of gold. When sleep won’t come I will disappear into the garden that flows out of my pen, winding its way into sweet fantasy-lands where no one is mean and there is no such thing as loneliness…
I’m in “Wonderland” right now. Been here for a week or so. Time seems to be inching by, my head too heavy to lift off the pillow. Not sick physically, I’m just…just…what can I tell you? I have had some unknown trigger going me headlong into a timewarp. Into a place I never ever wanted to return to…
Is the reflection REAL?
My art, from it’s earliest inception, has contained 2 sided faces. Always compelled to create a smiling side juxtaposed to a moody/dark side. Even before I consciously knew the face was symbolically my own, before I had ever heard of mental illness or anyone called manic depressive illness bipolar, I was painting my double sided inner person. I have doodles and sketches from grade school where this manifested…it was a necessary act to portray my protagonist self this way. This was the girl inside of me, who would soon find ways to hide from physical reality in altered states…
After the traumatic events of my young life had begun, my self-image became warped and twisted. My mental despair manifested itself in self harming behavior: anorexia/bulemia, punching walls, suicide attempts…to this day, nearly 50 years after the onset of the abuse, I still cannot eat without feeling ugly afterwards.
“…look into this inner world and I promise I will use my “INSIDE VOICE”.
Hello again, and welcome to the big show! I have begun what will become a Major Series of New Works entitled , “INSIDE VOICE” a series of works that speak to my inner battle with Bipolar Disorder’s lows and maniac highs, my way to shout out how the battle rages on inside even when silence prevails outside.
Many people who meet me may be uncomfortable being near a person diagnosed with mental illness, such as Bipolar Disorder. However, they are often surprised at how “normal” I seem. It has been my experience both with my current diagnosis, and with my original diagnosis of Chronic Depression, that friends and family are amazed that I don’t run around slathering at the mouth, or beating my head against the wall. They often try denial on, “No…not you…” or, ” You seem so happy, normal, well adjusted, calm, smart …”
Some have even gone so far as to comment on my family tree, as in, ” Well your Grandpa was a little odd.” Or the opposite, “Nothing like this has ever been on my side of the family…” In my family, on my Mom’s side, my Grandpa and his Brothers had come to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Woodbury, Tennessee because there were good jobs to be had at the State Hospital, which was what insane asylums were called in the early 20th Century in the U.S. The treatment of mental illness was a whole different ballgame back then, my relatives saw many terrible and terrifying things, indeed.
Their positions within these huge hospitals required them to live on the Hospital Grounds in Dormitories, where they could hear the “lunatics” screaming and carrying on all day and night. It’s no wonder they were aghast at the idea that their kin were somehow linked to those poor souls in the “Looney Bin”. I am so glad to live in this century, and I am very grateful to all the poor souls who were the subject of many ghastly experiments and treatments, who helped behavioral science and the Mental Health Community to become what it is today. As a “50 Something” woman who was not properly diagnosed till the age of 32, my life now is a dream compared to the suicide attempts, the self medicating, the self debasing promiscuity, the manic spending, the jail time, the fate-tempting, death-defying thrill-seeking, mayhem-causing pain I lived thru before. The sheer energyit would take to put up a happy, smiling front…man, I needed a eight ball just to keep it up for a weekend.
But it would all unravel in the end. I was not OK. I was really, really not OK. Inside my head I was screaming, and my thoughts were rolling at warp speed. I was that cat on the electric floor in that Steven King movie, running up the walls. I would try to hold down a job, and this is after a year of sobriety, after a few hours I would go to the loo and hide, shaking like a leaf. After about a year and a half clean and sober, I got my hands on my first credit card and inheritance at the same time and bought 5 acres in the wilderness, had it cleared and levelled, had a well dug, fenced it and then went to the mall and purchased a bunch of tanzanite and diamond jewelry, winding up spending over 20 grand in 2 weeks(and ultimately filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy).
Interspersed between those bouts of mania, where I seemed so “normal”, I would cry. And cry. And Finally I just couldn’t take the pain anymore, so a dear friend said I should go to a local Mental Health Facility, called New Horizons. I was given this ancient psychiatrist who looked wizened, emaciated and nearly blind. But, bless her heart, she had me pegged. With her help, with my determination to stick with my med trials, with a great therapist and social worker, I have been able to stay alive there past 23 years, now clean and sober for 21 of them, come September.
. So, anyway…(whew, that was quite a tirade!)…I am painting this series to let you look inside a person with this illness, look into this inner world and I promise I will use my “INSIDE VOICE”.
. This project was a couple years in the making for me, and was born from the bottomless grief I was dealing with then. As caregiver to both of my parents after a 23 year-long active addiction, and after a devestating breakup of my marriage when my ex went to Federal Prison, I was an emotional train wreck. I had not been creating visual art except for private sketches and some mural work, but I made a smart move during those early years back home with my parents by purchasing a Surface Pro in 2006 with all the bells and whistles. As a result, I did have a creative outlet in the new digital editing and photographic capabilities of this amazing device.
. During the long illness of my Mom, who was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2007 (after years of passing blood but afraid to get a colonoscopy!!!!), I had much pent up emotion to release. Any moment of freedom I had was spent exploring the new medium I now possessed. I think I was at an advantage due to the fact that I knew no rules about photography, so I was very free to experiment and play. As a computer illiterate during my long years away from civilization, this was both hell and Utopia as I navigated thru the most basic techie stuff. But I was enthralled. I could take a photo and make it a work of art!
. Alas, my next 9 years were so pain-filled, as Mom’s cancer progressed she and I had to navigate colostomy’s and ileostomy’s and her suffering was so acutely mine that I wanted to die with her. And a huge part of me did, on the first day of spring in 2010, her birthday and day of death. I wrote endless prose and poetry, keeping her alive in words and rivers of tears.
. That seemed like a joy ride compared to nursing my father until his death. Dad developed dementia even before Mom died, and it became full blown Alzheimer’s afterwards. He also had prostate cancer which had been diagnosed 20years before but had never been treated. Years of violent outbursts and vile language and hate filled conversation poured out of my Father for the better part of Six years, and out of my warped sense of love for my mean Dad I determined in my heart to never let him go to a nursing home.
During those years I had a catastrophic fall which injured my brain, neck, back, shoulder, hip and knee, causing me to undergo a 12 hour double neck and back operation so that I would only have one recovery and could be up and about within weeks to caregive again. Wow. Five levels in my neck were fused and a previous 3 level lumbar fusion was repaired and taken up another level. I had torn major cartilage in my hip, needed arthroscopic surgery there and in my shoulder, and also was left with a type if vertigo that still effects me on a regular basis 7years later! Oh, my. Need I mention my mental illness battles with rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder and PTSD from a history full of childhood sexual abuse, violent sexual assault and rape as an adolescent and severe emotional and physical abuse due to 7plus years of Domestic Violence? No, I really had given myself a heavy, heavy load to carry with Daddy. But somehow I did it.
. I cannot describe the last weeks of his life, as there was a lawsuit and a non disclosure agreement with the establishment that hastened his death. But his last night was spent in a hospital bed at home, alone with me, while he screamed and pleaded with God and me to help him. For hours. And hours. The morphine did absolutely nothing so I covered my ears with my fists and screamed with him.
. During this unimaginably daunting, heart-wrenching and overwhelming time in my life there was a story on the news that just planted itself in my brain, because it was so horrific. A group of 27 immigrants were being smuggled into this country from South America. My video is my interpretation of what they went thru, and also a cry for compassion towards all who suffer such indignities and trauma.
Can you dig it? I am sure most all of you can, gentle readers. You can probably deduce from my latest posts that my creative powers seem rather discombobulated. I would have to agree with you. The “SITUATION” certainly has a dampening effect on my spirit; whereas I used to force myself to get around people and interact for my mental health, now I have more than enough reason to stay home. The guilt I feel for staying up all night still pokes me in the side in the morning (oh, wait a minute, that was my teddy bear), however, I just take a swig out of my water glass, roll over and bury my face in Kleo’s furry belly and drift happily back to dreamland.
. I did try to do better, by getting ready for bed before 3am , which is good for me. I hit a groove in my art practice, which does usually happen around 2-3, and was looking up images of pelicans for a study I’m going to do. I was VERY mature and turned off all my devices and went to bed. Then I laid there, in agony, on that horrible verge of wakefulness and sleep. This happens when my pain patch wears out and my muscle relaxer can’t keep me far enough under to rest. So I feel like a throbbing thumb you just smashed with a hammer that is now buried in hot quicksand… Everything in s-l-o-w-m-o-t-i-o-n…except the p-a-i-n…
. I have been letting myself go, and allowing my house to get (very) messy…Even though they talk on the news about food running out, I can’t get myself to go to the store…I will when the dogs need food, I guess. All I want to eat is chocolate and ice cream, maybe a few Doritos in between to cleanse my palate… I allowed myself to vent by creating this:
I also made these :
And you will never believe what I originally photographed to create these works! That will give YOU something to do for a few minutes!
Sleep has been a constant goal for me since I put down drugs and copious amounts of alcohol. Yet it has been the most evasive and endangered of species, teasing me with scattered glimpses of it’s eternal beauty. Oh, how I have longed for it’s soothing embrace, and so have everyone I have contact with; they also wish sleep would embrace me!
. The constant effect of losing this cherished companion is my surliness, my impatience, my wind-like changeability and undependability. Punctuality is no longer a quality I can claim, and it frustrates me greatly. Falling asleep in my oatmeal is also quite frustrating, as is stabbing myself in the eye with my mascara brush. Nodding off at redlights and nearly colliding with oncoming traffic are less than desirable effects of losing my Lovely Sleep’s company, also.
Bipolar Disorder, my particular breed of it, thrives on insomnia. The Manic high’s leave me strung out like guitar strings tightened to the breaking point, you can virtually hear my mind humming at high frequency when I walk into a room. The flying mouse-wheel of thoughts is now turbocharged , ready to escape it’s moorings and fly an oblivion my mind may never recover from. The longer she evades me with her unfaithfulness, the more my living quarters look like a battlefield, reflecting her absence in my life.
. It truly is a war. The other end of the spectrum in this battle is THE DARK. Each day of the mania leads me closer to the brink of devastation. At times THE DARK and the mouse-wheel cohabit my being, bouncing my sanity as if a Rubber ball has been thrown full tilt into a narrow alley.
. Then the fateful day arrives when my loss of Lover Sleep leads me to the pit, the abyss of THE DARK. It throws me in and pulls up the rope ladder in one fell swoop. Leaving me to stand waist deep in the most desolate places of memory. Abuse, Pain, Rejection, Rape, Loneliness, Fear, thoughts of Harm, Deep All encompassing Grief… They are all here, all come out from the darkness edges of this well of depression to shove and kick me about as I stand in the tiny spot of light that trickles down from the far above opening of this shaft of hell.
The level of Muck rises as each long day passes, and unless I can find the toolbox my years of mental health therapy has given me, or if I can find that lifeline of contact with my support network, or best yet, if I can find a way to kneel and call out over and over to my Creator, begging for the strength to claw my way out, all may be lost. Anyone who has fallen down this DARK, knows how close it gets to oblivion at times…
. Days can pass, this last round a month passed, as you can see by my lack of sharing here. The pen weighs a thousand pounds, the telephone a ton. At times my paintbrush is lost in the sediment, more often than not it is divine release. I let the Dark flow out of me and away, down from my battered heart and mind , then finally draining from my fingertips on to canvas, paper, cement block or found object. The level of sadness ebbs, I have the strength to climb and paint my way up the walls wet with my tears.
. As the light gets brighter, the colors on my canvas turn from Greys and browns to lilac and magenta, then colors of light and freedom. A few minutes of rest in Dear Sleep’s embrace , a gift from above then the final push into the light. The glorious light of freedom of peace, bathing my psyche in cooling water, releasing the bondage of all those fears, flashbacks mental anguish.
. My Creator saw fit to give me another glorious day, and finally the strength to reach for help from my doctors, my therapist, and my lifeline of freeflowing art, color, shape and movement.
Prayer for Magdallia, by Susan T. Martin 9 x 11 Marker on Board $50.00
Last Years Insights II WINNING Entry!
. Finally, my quest is completed, my medicine adjusted, which I take gratefully. Now with this elixer (and a new bipap machine) , some calming music and grateful meditation on all my blessings I fall gently into Sleep’s waiting arms. I lay my head on her motherly bosom, which happens to be my favorite squish pillow, and off I drift down the gentle stream of happy dreams…looking forward to a joyful, rested Awakening.
Another Garden Visitor, “Oleander-head Lady”…
So Happy to Be in CHICAGO!
UNCHAINED, UNCUFFED, Mixed Media on Board, $400.00 (Available)
A Visitor to one of my Giant Zinnias
Pop goes the Color! My Bouganvilla in full bloom(it is over 10 feet tall and 20 feet around !
My first watercolor for Art Mundo’s Calendar Art Juried Show and Sale, accepted(sold)Susan T. Martin2016
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…
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.
Boom. Just like that! I pushed a button, chose the business plan, and I’m up and running… Why don’t you come run with me for a while? You can see me falter, catch my breath, take a few more steps, laugh, get a stitch in my side, take another step or two…and then give it up and fall down in a heap of knees, elbows, sweat and laughter!
Cause, I have to tell you right now, I’m a funny duck! You are going to have quite a time as you get to know my quirks, my Bipolar moods, my PTSD and paranoia, my traumatic brain injury forgetfulness, and all the scarred psyche that my dysfunctional upbringing left me with.
“I am glad you are here. I want you to see me fall, see my imperfections, see my glaring “human-ness” in the unforgiving overhead light of reality… Because I am an artist, and ultimately, I am my art: An Ever-evolving, morphing, learning and growing, beautiful and fleeting image, A mark left on the page of this Tiny Giant Life!”
So, unless otherwise noted, all the Art, Words, Photos, Poems, Thoughts and Visual Musings you see and feel here are the sole creation and copyright property of me,
Susan T. Martin.
I make Out Of The Gutter Art.
Enjoy yourself, wander around a bit, have a drink if you like ( but don’t throw any plastic away, I recycle) Rest if you are tired, eat if you are hungry, but never the last Oreo…that baby is mine.
TRIGGER WARNING: While I do not create pornography, my art is often adult in nature, and can be disturbing for some viewers as it often stems from my memories and flashbacks of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. I use artistic means as a coping mechanism, and therapy and find my art is a soothing release from the horrors of my past. It is my hope that by getting the pain and trauma out of me and onto canvas or other media, I can find peace and the ability to live in the present as a loving, caring, healthy and healing, whole person. Not a victim, but a survivor. And not just existing but thriving!
Of all the people who love me and have helped me on this journey, my utmost gratitude goes to God, who drew me to him from a life buried in the mire. He is the one who pulled me Out of the Gutter.
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.