Friday, February 19, 2010


oil on canvas

Artichoke One
16" x 16" (40.7cm x 40.7cm)
oil on canvas

I'm diggin' the white canvas thing, again.  I have Gwen Bell,, to thank for this artichoke, and any that follow. Ms. Bell painted the most alluring bunch of asparagus, set on the most inviting shade of lavender I've ever seen, and it's been in my head ever since. Obviously it's too late to paint the perfect bunch of asparagus, so, I settled on artichokes. Amazing plant. Veggie. Fruit. Whatever, it's got so much goin' on and actually resembles the tip of a very, very large asparagus spear does it not? I'll be doing two more of these in different positions. More angst-free painting! A nice break in-between commissions and auction pieces. Thank you Gwen! Quite obviously, you are an inspiration.

In the meantime, I'd like to share...


A clumsy segue to be sure.

I have very recently heard of a friend from the past who I've been thinking about for a while now. It always happens that way doesn't it? Gives real credence to the theory that your thoughts create your experience, no? So, anyway, this woman, who was in her early twenties at the time, was a secretary waaay back in the day in the art department at the newspaper where I was employed. I always thought she was very cool, we got along really well and shared many a carafe of wine over lunch. 

It wasn't too long after we attended this friend's wedding that trial husband left me and our 5 year marriage. Let's call him TH from this point on, shall we? I was quite the mess. The morning TH announced his departure could have easily been a quality sit-com segment now that I think of it. There I was, decked out in my finest white and red horizontally striped, terry cloth footsie jammies, complete with button-down trap door in the back, sweeping the kitchen floor. (I had passed chubby about a month before and was well on my to pushing maximum density at the time). A head full of huge, Easter-egg lavender, beer can-sized plastic rollers completed my ensemble. I believe the broom was lime green with white plastic bristles. Anyway, as I swept, TH took up residence on the couch in the den, as usual, which was within earshot of the kitchen. Suddenly he mumbled...

"I have to leave."
"Leave where?"
"Where ya goin?"
"My sisters. I have to leave here. I can't stay anymore. I'm tired of trying."
"Trying what?"

You get the idea. Anyway, being as how our union had fallen on hard times I thought, yeah!...good idea! We need some time apart. He was stunned by my reply and blew by me like a shot to throw some belongings into a few paper bags and was out the door and in the car before I could utter another word. The fact that I had just said that so he'd snap out of it and see the folly in leaving a catch like me didn't help my very newly shattered ego, at all!

Long story short...again, too late...I realized in no time, the marriage, dysfunctional as it became, was my identity. It made it alright to be me. I was pathetically dependent back then, which made him feel needed in the beginning, but it became too much and he was forced to leave. It was just what we both needed, he was very brave. Although at the time, I thought it was the end of the world and he was a total and complete poop-head. We weren't even speaking and had no business staying together, but, a warm body in the house was really, really, really conspicuous by its absence and I was shaken to my very core. The universe had my full attention.

Anyway, I dragged myself around for months, feeling like I was made of glass. If someone sneezed or spoke too loudly, I'd shatter into a million pieces.  I couldn't eat or sleep. I imagine I wore everyone in the office out. So, one day, I was sitting at the Atex terminal, which was in front of my friend's desk, typing in some copy for an ad. We were alone in the room.

"How ya doin' Walk?" My last name was Walker at the time.
I heavy sighed and whispered that I was not doing well. I waited a beat and then heard myself say...
"If he doesn't come back, I think I might kill myself." Clearly I was prone to melodrama back then. Some say I still am, but I digress.

I don't know what I expected her to say or do at the time. She looked at me, narrowed her eyes, tilted her head to the side, breathed in heavily, let it out and said nothing. Picking up a bunch of papers, she tapped them into obedience on her desk blotter, set them down and planted one hand on either side of the pile. Pushing herself up and out of her chair, she then looked down at me and very casually said...

"Well Walk...I'm gonna miss ya." And with that she left the room, her high-heels clicking on the linoleum floor, the door closing loudly behind her.

And I was left, sitting there, fingers still poised over the keyboard, those ridiculous words I'd just uttered, hanging there in the air and echoing in my head. Happily she never mentioned the exchange again. Nor did I.

It wasn't long after that tidy little dressing down that I lost the sad sack attitude and became a newly svelte, "secure-in-my-own-skin trainee,"  preparing myself to eventually become the woman himself would ultimately not be able to resist. I brought myself to that party, my whole self and happily, it's still going on. Been goin' on for seventeen years now, in fact!

And so, to this very day, that my friends, is the best thing anyone has ever said to me.


  1. this is a very moving story. there are people in our lives like that who may not seem like such a huge part, but may have imprinted on us a moment we will never forget. to those people... we say thank you. and we must make sure that we make those moments for others as well. all of us who enjoy your artwork daily are happy to have you as the person you are today!

  2. Hi Suzanne,

    This is a great story and you have told it so well. It is quite something that such a brief, direct statement on your friend's part literally shifted your thinking. It was actually a brave comment she made. Many people would have fumbled all over you and panicked, showering you with attention for fear you were serious. Your story shows how people can be in your life at the exact time you need to learn something from them.

    Thanks for trusting your readers with this story...

    Oh, and nice artichoke! :0)


  3. Beautiful! ...both the Artichoke still protecting its heart with all its layers and the lady who peeled back all her layers to bare her heart to us. Your friend was so wise. The pause, the gathering of her thoughts, the best words ever spoken to you, all followed by the dramatic exit - leaving you with your thoughts. Wow! Thanks for sharing this Suz. You never know, the words you typed here today could be the safety-line someone is in dire need of out there... Bless you.


  4. Lovely and oh so tasty. I paricularly like how you have rendered the lights and darks to give this full depth. Nice to drop by your blog. Love the socks too! Best wishes.

  5. Suzanne!

    Fantastic artichoke! I smell a new series coming on!

    Onto your segue......

    Your coworker/friend wasn't too compassionate with you at the time, now was she? Or maybe it was a bit of tough love on her part?

    In any case, I applaud you for not only surviving a difficult situation but thriving in the end!

    Now if only I could do the same!


  6. Wow. You're brave to post that story. What a wonderful account of a changed life.

    I really like the artichoke painting too. The artichoke is a thistle, did you know? There is a whole drama that unfolds when one is enjoying this mysterious edible, like secrets unfolding to reveal tender bites to enjoy. Like your story.

  7. Not only is your work amazing, but so are you. I have an award for you on my blog. You are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Been away a few days and what a great painting and post to come back to! Love the way you bumped the usually drab green artichoke to full life. I'm so humbled that you liked my Asparagus enough to inspire this beauty! Lovin'that white background.

    Now to the story...I have read all the comments above and have come to the conclusion that I am really sick because I personally thought it was hilarious! The first out loud laugh was the description of you in your PJ's. The mental image was funny enough, but then I laughed even harder at the artist in you remembering what color everything, including the broom, was. Priceless!

    My next out loud laugh was the quote from your friend. That is hands down the very best reaction I've ever heard that wasn't from a scene in a movie. How do people get that wise??? Sometimes it takes something completely ridiculous to get us to see how ridiculous we are. Love this story, but love the happy ending even more.

  9. First, I apologize to everyone for taking so long to thank you all for such incredible responses! It's so wonderful to know that one can share this type of story and find such loving support. Thank you all so very much!

    Julie, so well said and so very true. It's the honest comments that help us the most, even if they're not what we want to hear at the time. If we listen we grow. Thank you so much, your words mean a lot.

    Nicki. So true! I had a friend once that reacted to every statement of distress I made that way and I thought at the time it was what I needed. There are no accidents! Thank you for such a lovely comment.

    Mary Ann, YOU are too cool for words! Thank you!

    Don, thank you! Your comment is so beautifully written and lovely. Thank you my friend, thank you very much, your words touched my heart.

    John, thank you! I so appreciate your comments! Thanks for stopping by.

    Dean, thanks so much! I thought at the time she was a tad harsh, but thinking it over and going home that night, I sat in the car with the engine running and burst out laughing at myself within seconds, I will be forever grateful to her. And I know you can do it. You are an incredibly gifted person with a huge heart. God Bless and keep you close.

    XiuCheng, Thank you so very much!

    Diana, thank you! The truth shall set you free I guess. And thank you liking my artichoke, er thistle and your lovely analogy!

    Joan, Thank you so much! I so appreciate it. Please don't mistake my tardiness in retrieving the award for being ungrateful. It's taken me almost a week to thank everyone, I'm so behind, I apologize, thank you again!

    Gwen, thank you! In retrospect, looking back on these kinds of situations, the humor is in the details. thank you so much for appreciating my humor. Isn't it weird? I was and still am a good ten years older than my wise young friend. I was stunned by her reply and it was exactly what I needed to hear. thanks so much!

    Thank you so much again everyone!! I will treasure each and every comment.

  10. Suzanne ~ WOW, again, I loved reading your story..I did see humor but I also saw tremendous growth through a life-altering event.

    And I truly believe that the Universe is so in touch with each one of us. This story you so wonderfully told will probably have meaning for someone you would never dream would have helped them through their situation. You have such a gift for writing...ever think about publishing your stories?

    I do love the artichoke. Green is such a wonderful's the color of life.

  11. Well, this is my first time on your blog and I think I have found a gem! First that incredible artichoke...and then, of course, your fab story! It must truely have been a terrible time in your life. I am sure most people can relate, not that exact story, but a time when we thought we could never recover. However, you did and were smart enough to recognize it as a turning point in your life all this time later.

    You have as much talent as a writer as a artist and a wonderful sense of humor. I think you should put all those qualities together in a great book! Oh yea, I am your newest follower!

  12. Great artichoke. great story. Even as a guy I find it a great story. How could your friend tell it any better.

  13. Great painting.
    You tell your memories (painful included) so wonderfully.

  14. Grrrl, I'm just waitin' for the illustrated novel to come out. I can't decide which I love more, your paintings or your stories! I'm just lucky I know where to find both.

  15. Wow, that's a fantastic story. You're a great writer, and not too many people look at themselves so honestly. You really have a talent.

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Your visits to my blog and the comments you leave here are an integral part of my creative process. They are helpful, supportive and well, let's face it, they feel really good! If I don't thank you personally, please allow me to thank you in advance for taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts, they mean so much!