Friday, March 18, 2016

Art of Self

Siri Apple: The All-knowing Being.

For most of my adult life I have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and clinical depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotropic medications alone were not enough to heal me. Therapy taught me that I had to figure out a way to love myself; even though I had so much guilt, pain, and discomfort from my past. Medications helped me to cope with the feelings of anxiety I felt in stressful situations. One wintry day in 2014, I had a flashback from my childhood that I believe provided the north star I needed to complete my healing. 
I do not remember how, exactly, I came across the 52-week course on creating and art  an art journal. Looking back, I am certain that serendipity, no doubt, was at play. This was a year-long course that took me two years to finish. The overall belief system included non-violent communication techniques, art making for healing, meditation and visualization. At the very beginning of the course, I tried a short meditation, which brought me back to my childhood. In the moment, I felt like there was something wrong with me; always, something wrong with me. I went with the feelings. I did not fight them. Eventually, I received clear pictures in my mind’s eye. They were remembrances of joyful experiences from my childhood. My first recollection was of me performing “The Eensy Weensy Spider," over and over again for my sisters and brother. Continuing on with the meditative process, I was filled with memories of taking dance lessons, creating mosaics from legumes, and creating macaroni art sprayed with sparkly gold paint. I still love glam to this day! For the coming weeks, I kept thinking about more and more instances where making art brought me joy as a child. I started to feel better. Later during the meditation, I remembered how I used writing as a cathartic exercise to make myself feel better in my teen years. I even remember a poem I wrote in high school that I had not thought of for years, yet it was permanently etched in my memory:
"My script is one of heavy lines and changing stages,
When the curtain is up,
The scene enlightens,
When the curtain is down,
The end of light frightens.
Inside the ego is lurking,
The spirit in my heart is working,
To be me,
To be Free,
From overburdening lines and staging changes."
This meditative experience brought me to a place where I believed that if I continued, and finished the course, I would heal. I did heal!
After two years of writing, drawing, and engaging in any expressive and intuitive artistic process that came my way, I woke up one day very recently with the knowledge that the hurt done to me no longer controlled me. It is my deepest desire to extend a hand of guidance in pursuing making art as a healing process. 
I truly believe that making art soothed, transformed and ultimately healed my soul.
I have experienced first hand the art of self healing.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I have no idea how.

But it was a pretty good-sounding manifesto I wrote in my last post.

What I discovered in the last month of mulling this all over was that I have to leave the how out of it!

I decided to start simply. What am I interested in?

An artist is who I am. Of that I am certain. But, what is Susan The Artist interested in doing with all that creativity and talent?

If I think of my life as a circle, then I have no beginning and no end. I am flowing on the periphery of that circle somewhere. I need to focus on where it is that I am on the circle.

I am an artist mentor for homeless and/or abused children. In other words, all the children I mentor are homeless, but not all have been abused. I spend most of my disposable income on art supplies for them. Supplies are expensive. I have all but stopped creating my own art. I have inadvertently gotten more involved with coaching and mentoring than I have in creating my own art. At this point in my journey, I realize that I am out of balance, which means I need to make a shift.

"Get in tune to the frequency of being an artist and coaching people to heal using art to heal."

This is a very circular thought.

Get in tune to the frequency of being an artist and coaching people to heal using art to heal. Using art to heal get in tune to the frequency of being an artist and coaching people to heal. 

What interests me led me to the how.

How? Use art to heal.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Well-Being Enterprise

I might as well be a sloth. I am a slow-moving American mammal that power lounges on couches and beds as much as possible. I avoid working, if at all possible.  The best word to describe how I feel is "sluggish." I feel like a slug. I cannot seem to get moving physically. I am suffering from inactivity. I fell asleep driving to work a couple of weeks ago. The one thing I do not feel is "apathy." I really care about the fact that I am sliding down the slippery slope of complacency and letting myself go.  It needs to change. It needs to change NOW.

I am starting my own well-being enterprise. I have no idea how to get out of this funk, but I WILL figure it out. Last night, I bought two Groupons - One was for hot yoga and the other was for three months of downloadable yoga videos. Typically, I buy these items and never use them; or use them once or twice and let it go. I need to develop some stick-to-it-iveness. I believe I have stumbled upon sub-project number 1:  Stick-to-it-iveness: Who, what, where, when, how, and why.  Who are the people who develop habits that they are able to maintain? What are their methods? Where do they learn from? When do they find the time to focus on wellness? How do they make their own well being a priority? Why are they able to "do it" and I am not?

This will be my first task - to figure out how other people do it. First, I will research who has done it. Then I will read all about them and glean what I can about their methods. Who knows? Maybe one of them has written a book that might be helpful.

Why blog? I want to chronicle my thought process and how I progress in my endeavor to find my well-being. I want to hold myself accountable.
Hi! It's me, Susan

Please tell me how you do it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Warming Up

I spent over an hour, before coffee, writing my first blog post of 2014. Mistake. Never do that! I got it just the way I wanted it and tried to upload a photo. I uploaded two the same by accident. I highlighted one of the photos and pressed my delete key. My entire post disappeared. I am going to stop now, get my coffee, and get warmed up first. Then I will try again....
Unfinished "Warming Up" by Susan English 2014
This is a sketch on a scrap piece of paper that turned into a mixed media piece. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I woke up this morning after having a very vivid dream. I was walking through a field picking up two guitars in guitar cases. I looked down and saw a blood red rose. It was so beautiful that I bent down and began pulling it up by its roots. I must have intended to take it home and plant it. I saw the crucifixion in the sepals and ovary. Two sepals made Jesus' outstretched arms and the ovary was his face.  I wrapped it up in paper towels and ran home to show my mother. When I unwrapped it the crucifixion was gone and it was just a regular rose with plain 'ole sepals and ovary.

I laid there vividly picturing this and thinking how amazing it looked in my dream. The memory faded so fast; unbelievably fast.I can barely picture it in my mind's eye now. I am already thinking of the different ways to use this in my art work. Words cannot describe what I saw in my dream. Even so, I needed to write it down in order to start the process.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Swoon

Greetings and salutations from Arizona, USA,

Unfortunately, there was an unexpected death in my family that has prohibited me from doing any drawing, writing, or painting in the last 2 weeks.

The problem was - How do I create during a time when I have very little extra time and when I am feeling very sad? The outcome I was looking for were outlets at my fingertips for which I could use sporadic spurts of creativity at will.

I discovered a Smartphone App that made me SWOON during this time. I have a plethora of saved photos of my artwork and miscellaneous other photos on my iPhone and I heard about the Blender photo app. It was $1.99. I downloaded it and it took about 3 minutes to figure out how to use it. It really made me SWOON and it allowed me to use spurts of creative energy during a very tough family time.

The second strategy I used to get through the sorrowful time was to look at my vintage art book collection. I viewed a lot of paintings by Monet because the colors he used make me happy. I cannot resist the endorphin it generates in me. Pretty much, without fail, perusing my art books makes me SWOON.

The final strategy I used to utilize my creative writing juices was to make a daily list of things for which I was grateful. I picked one of the items on the list and wrote a paragraph about the item and how it made me feel. Then whenever I was feeling blue, I went back and re-read them. It proved quite useful as a coping mechanism. Being grateful leads to overall happiness, which is the ultimate SWOON.

Here are 3 favorite results of my 2-week experiment with the Blender Photo app.

Go forth and create. 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Shake Your Tu-Tu Tail

"I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
It's gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day."

Picture a Rastafarian mermaid, about 10 years old, with dreadlocks and a heart-shaped mouth. She wants to be a ballerina and cook cupcakes for her friends. She has problems though - She can't cook underwater and she cannot put ballet slippers on because of her tail.

We've all been there.

We know what it feels like.

So, what does she do?

She covers her tail with a pink tutu and shakes her tail. She sneaks away and buys cupcakes for her friends. They make do with what they have and they find joy anyway.

Shake your Tu-Tu tail.

By Susan English 9/9/13