I am a student artist. I am also a retired public school teacher who taught Exceptional Children, Academically Gifted, and Secondary English. After retiring, I went to massage school and became a massage therapist. You can visit my blog about massage therapy at tapestrylife.net.

Suzanne Hollifield Eller
Suzanne Hollifield

This blog is about my journey to become an artist. I may talk about my life because art is about life, but mostly it’s about my journey (quest) to learn to paint, to overcome my fears of failure and my drive to compete, to keep my aging brain supple and hopefully alive a while longer, and to have fun, fun, fun.

I started painting around July 2015. I was 64 years old. Until then, my artistic endeavors included drawing cartoon characters (as a child I liked Katy Keene and Millie the Model), and various simple images for bulletin boards at school. Students were usually much better artists than I, so often it was easy to get them to draw for me. Indeed, kids who couldn’t read a third-grade reader could often draw amazingly well. I remember one special ed high school boy I had who could barely pass any academic subject, but he could draw the Incredible Hulk or Spiderman as if he were Stan Lee himself. It always seemed unfair that he probably wouldn’t get a job just drawing when he was so very good.

I have also attempted to do computer generated art. I have two Corel programs, and I took a class on Corel Draw through the community college. My cartoon people served me well here, and a bought a few cartooning books that were helpful in basic shapes of body parts. I never really got great at it, but I’m not awful either.

I still putter with it, and really enjoy using the Procreate app on my iPad. I broke down and bought a Photoshop subscription when it came out for iPad, and it includes several other apps and a desktop version. It’s even more time intensive than Corel though, and I was and am pretty much on my own without the support of a live teacher or like the community I later found for painting.

Mixed media massage collage
Mixed media collage “Relax and Unwind” by Suzy Hollifield inspired by Gabrielle Pollacco

In June 2015, I went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on vacation with my deceased sister’s family: my brother-in-law, my two nieces, my nephew, and their families, which included three great-nieces, one great-nephew, my nephew’s wife, and my niece’s fiancé and his daughter. It was a fun-filled long weekend in a beautiful tourist-oriented mountain city.

While we were there, I first saw Kelly Rae Roberts‘ work in a small shop in the “village”. I kept going back in to read the saying on the prints and just to look. When I got back to the room, I looked her up on the Internet. She was offering a class called Spirit Wings for the Early Bird price of $99. Too good to be true. I signed up. I had never painted a thing on canvas in my life.

The Spirit Wings class didn’t start until the fall, so I had all summer to piddle. I watched internet videos, and made several things over the course of the summer for my new office. One is the collage above that I made for our office using a tutorial by Gabrielle Pollacco. I like it. Some of the other pieces I did now seem a bit primitive, but I keep them to remind myself of how much I’ve learned in such a short while. (If I can, so can you!) They also have elements which are totally me and not influenced by anyone else.

So, that’s the introduction. The rest of the story is in the blog although it might skip around some. I don’t want to write in chronological order, so I’ll probably talk about the early stuff when I don’t have anything else to write about. If you’re still reading and enjoy this, welcome. I hope we become friends.

Love and light,

Suzy Hollifield

PS Suzy Hollifield is my childhood nickname and my maiden name. It is the essence of me, the artist who drew comic book movie stars and fashion models and lost herself in a world of imagination. I want her to live again. She’s the real me. She needs to come out and play.

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