Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Susan Porter


...I never truly knew what it was to be an artist until I painted away my grief




Last year the universe whacked me upside the head with a reality check.  It does that sometimes. First my mother died, then my dog. Within a matter of weeks the two old ladies I'd nursed throughout their final months, days, hours were gone. And left me all sorts of empty. I didn't know what to do with myself and questioned everything about life. And purpose.  Grief does that to you.

Seven years earlier I'd packed up my paints and moved Mama into what had been my studio, a small cottage on our property. My son was at war, Mama wasn't happy in the retirement home and I was too stressed to paint anyway. Giving up my studio didn't seem like a sacrifice at the time, it seemed like the natural thing to do. I was still teaching art, I just wasn't making any. I didn't even know what my artistic voice was anymore.


Then I discovered Judy Wise, Stephanie Lee, and their amazing Plaster Workshop. I'd never taken an on-line class before but it looked interesting. Before long it changed my life. I discovered how much fun plaster could be. I loved scraping it, carving it, taking a torch to it. I loved the way it soaked up the paint. But mostly I loved the joy that comes from art with no expectations. Making art because it made me happy.  And to my surprise, I was happy.  Every day I woke up eager to go into the studio and play. After the plaster class I took Judy's Hot Wax class. Then I began playing with cold wax and oils, because I could. And then I rediscovered acrylics through Flora Bowley's on-line workshop. I took the best from everyone and rediscovered my creative self.
Understand, I have a degree in art and have worked as an artist in one capacity or another all my professional life. Worked, but I never truly knew what it was to be an artist until I painted away my grief this past year. Painted with passion, from the gut, ego checked at the door.

As my creativity blossomed I decided to blog about it. I taught myself Wordpress and built a website, OoLaLa, Living the Arty Life. Then I built another just for my art, SLPorter . I created a FaceBook group, Random Acts of Art, that encourages people to anonymously leave little arty bits and bobs out and about for strangers to discover. As if that wasn't enough, a few weeks ago I woke up knowing I had to write yet another blog, one that would empower women...or men... to say YES!!! to their dreams and their life. Big Bold Beautiful YES!!! is the result. It's blog that truly touches my heart. And apparently the hearts of others, judging by the comments.
I look back at this past year and can't believe where I've come from...and where I'm going to. I'm at the age where I could be thinking of retirement in a few years. Instead, I find myself becoming an entrepreneur. I have two blogs with plans for a third, each one totally different from the next. I've publicly committed to finishing a novel, I'm developing e-classes, have plans for some e-books. Have had one art show with another in the works. I'm painting like I never have before. And now I have a beautiful new studio, built by my husband, financed by the inheritance from my mother. A most special place infused with the love of my man and my mom. How can I help but make amazing magic in that space?

I'm saying YES!!! to life and loving every minute of it.



23 comments:

  1. Susan this is beautiful. I love every ounce of what you have done in this last year. You are teaching all of us that it can be done. I truly believe that we can do anything we want at any age, you are certainly a living proof of that. I'm so inspired by your story and absolutely love your art work, as always. xo

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne. My mother was a good example for me. Her motto was 'You're only too old to learn when you're dead'. She was a kick ass old lady well into her 90s. Gives me plenty to look forward to! xo

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  2. What a great story and inspiration!
    I'm in awe of what you have been able to do, of the perfect timing of it all. Thank you for sharing what you have learned and healed through art.

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    1. Deborah, if my story can inspire one person, light a fire under them to move in the direction of their dreams, then I'll know I've made a difference in this world. xo

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  3. Such a beautiful post. Painting (or creating anything) directly from our soul is the most satisfying and healing of all. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  4. Hi Susan,

    What a great story. Art is a beautiful way to deal with grief. I think that your artwork is fabulous. So fun and colorful! I have seen several of your blogs and love to read about your adventures and see the photos of your work. It is so inspiring!

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  5. A friend of mine recently lost her father Amy. Before he died, he told her to grieve for him...but not for long. Because life is short and it should be enjoyed. What a wise man.

    So glad you've seen my blogs and are inspired by my work! xo

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  6. It sounds like you've hit your stride. I read somewhere, in The Courage to Write, that it often turns out that we don't truly discover our deepest art until our parents are gone. A sad idea, but nonetheless, I'm glad to be witness to your creative unfurling.
    Love + Light
    Brandi

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    1. The loss of a parent certainly is a game changer, Brandi. Whether I would've arrived at this space without that experience, I can't say. I do know that being intimately involved in the dying process of a loved one makes you stop and take stock of everything you know and believe about life, about yourself. xo

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  7. Susan:
    I lost three prople in the last year and that has propelled me to write more. Thsnks for sharing your experience. My heart smiled when I read it. <3 <3 Tanya

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    1. My sympathies for your loss, Tanya. Expressing yourself, digging deep into your life and experience is the best therapy. in my humble opinion... xo

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  8. Thanks Susan - brilliant post. Made me cry. My mum is in a rest-home hospital, paralysed down her right hand side, with no interest in the world outside her head. My dad thinks art is wasteful, frivolous, a waste of time and resources, and generally pointless. It's only now I'm in my 50's that the art in me is coming out - so what you've written here is truly inspirational. I hope Studio Grande brings out even more of your fabulousness.
    sue:)

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    1. Ah Sue...so sorry about your Mom. It must be so hard to see her like that. And your dad just doesn't have a clue, does he? Well, big, BIG hugs to you for getting in touch with yourself and letting the art come out! Don't ever stop!!! xo

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  9. Susan, you are truly living as an artist. It has been a pleasure getting to know you, your Mom would be proud.

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  10. You must be channeling Mama, Sue. Her favorite phrase was, "I'm so proud of you, dear." LOL. xo

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  11. You have so much to be proud of, Susan! You've come so far and I just love your art!

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    1. Thank you Michele. I'm glad to be on this journey with you! xo

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  12. Having lost my own mother in January...I can empathize. I took care of Mom in many ways - you know the phrase, sandwich generation? Yep. I have a 19 y/o daughter whose father died three years ago (we were long since divorced) and I had my mom and I had to work. It is only now at 55 that I'm rediscovering - no, not the right word - just simply DISCOVERING who I am - and as you say, the loss of a parent is a real game-changer. Especially if that is the last remaining parent. How wonderful that you've filled that void so positively and in tune with your own self! What a great post.

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  13. I'm sorry for your loss, Sue. And I'm absolutely rejoicing that you have the chance to discover yourself now. As women we put our lives on hold for family. But one day the kids are grown, the parents gone and we get the chance to redefine who we are. This can be the most powerful, most rewarding time of your life if you let it. Happy self-discovery to you! xo

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  14. Beautiful profile Susan. You are inspiring and I understand your grief as I lost my mom 2 years ago at the same time I retired...so there was a double void in my life I felt lost for awhile. As women we devote so much of our lives taking care of others and then through loss things change and time becomes available to discover the artist within and it helps heal our hearts and grow through this wonderful self-discovery.

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  15. Hi Susan! Good to meet you! Your story is very inspiring1 Sometimes our best work--and our true artistic voice--are only revealed through trials by fire. Also, no matter our age, it is never too late to reinvent oneself! Looking forward to visiting your sites!

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  16. Creating karuna reiki or Compassion inside yourself opens you up to this positive vitality sent by the illuminated creatures yet in addition accelerates mending and encourages the person to end up noticeably yet more sympathetic and adoring

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