Hi there! I’m Susan – artist, creative coach and tutor from the beautiful Horowhenua district in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I’m a firm believer that creativity is everybody’s birthright – no exceptions. Of course, not everyone’s creative potential is nourished in the way it should be but, believe me, the seed is always there waiting to be germinated. No matter how old you are.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to the joy of art from a very young age. Thanks to a forward thinking mum, who ensured a steady supply of sketch books, coloured pencils and crayons, being creative was as natural to me as breathing.
Sadly, not everyone was as encouraging. Attendance at a rigid, academically minded Catholic primary school proved disastrous for my budding artistry. One nun in particular seemed hell-bent on crushing my creative efforts through a potent mix of humiliation and sabotage. By the time I left, I’d learned to play it safe, stay within the lines and do what was expected. Not surprisingly, my art teacher at college suggested I give art away and become a secretary. Which I did.
And, so the world of work took over and while I had one or two creative jobs along the way, I gave art a wide berth. It wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I finally began to paint again. It was a pretty tentative start, but it gathered momentum a few years later, after a particularly challenging period of time. I determined that my priorities had to change.
They say that when you set an intention, the entire universe conspires to make it happen. And that’s what happened for me. Once I decided that I wanted to make art my life, everything changed. I was offered a job at a school of art and creativity – The Learning Connexion – and given a scholarship to study there. Many years later I’m still there. Along the way, I’ve enjoyed a successful art career and tutored and coached many budding creatives.
It was certainly a dream come true but, as I discovered, it’s not always easy to sustain a dream long term, especially if you’ve compromised who you are to make others happy. Trying to satisfy clients, galleries and tutors took its toll and slowly… almost imperceptibly… I started to lose my mojo. Art started to feel like a chore rather than a pleasure. It was time to take a break.
And that’s exactly what I did… for several years. For a while I did nothing creative at all then, out of the blue, developed a huge passion for cooking and food photography. I started up a blog called The Kiwi Cook, learned how to use a camera, and lost myself in the world of food. Bliss.
As a couple of years went by, and then another, I assumed my art career was behind me, never to be seen again. But, creativity has a funny way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. Not only did my passion for creating art return, so too did a growing desire to combine creativity with my interest in psychology. It saw me undertake an intensive year long Post-graduate Diploma of Arts Therapy, during which time I discovered first-hand art’s power to transform and heal.
This hands-on experience has inspired me to grow my art practice in a new, more meaningful way and to develop a personal philosophy of art and teaching which aligns with the notion that art-making in itself IS therapeutic. What I have experienced is that intuitive art-making functions as a vehicle through which we can come to know ourselves more intimately – from exposing those aspects which hold us back from being fully ourselves, to enabling us to explore those attributes within ourselves which allow us to flourish as human beings.
If the idea that art can show you the way towards your own highest potential inspires you, please join me either in my online or in-person workshops and say ‘Yes!’ to yourself and the inner artist that awaits your attention. You can find out more about these workshops here. In the meantime, thanks for visiting – I truly appreciate it.