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ABOUT suzann STARCHILD shepard
Starchild, aka, Suzy aka Suzann Starchild Shepard painted with her aunt in California when she was 15 in 1956, and then didn't pick up a brush to paint until six decades later as she turned 75 in 2015... I liked painting quickly, often while listening to music, and acrylics are suited to quick, spontaneous work. However, I quit painting when my youngest adult daughter, Melissa died suddenly of an aggressive form of leukemia....then the painter, Starchild, disappeared in 2016.
I began the painful grief journey familiar to all who lose children or loved ones. Ironically, I am a two-time survivor of cancer. As part of my healing and recovery, I joined Dr. Phil Anton’s program (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) for Strong Survivors and caregivers around 2008 and helped in fundraising efforts, including fundraising efforts to build our new SIH Cancer Institute in Carterville, IL. I continue to help with fundraising for this important program and; in reaching out to help others, my emotional and spiritual healing began.
Now almost six years after Melissa's death, I am becoming a survivor of a different kind. Where once I was a griever trying to survive, I am now a survivor who will always grieve. I began painting again in 2020, the year of Covid 19, I find getting lost in the moments of painting restorative. I use my middle name Starchild for my art. For me, painting today is a part of my spiritual practice. Becoming absorbed in the movement of the colors across the canvas is not only healing, it is a way to keep all focus on what Deepak Chopra calls, present- moment awareness..."the only place where life can be fully lived."
My philosophy of painting is my philosophy of life which continues to evolve even as I enter my elderhood – my time as a crone. Time is precious. Life can only be lived in the present movement – not in the past or the future. We must let our ego take a balcony seat and bring our awareness and attention to center stage and whatever is happening now. I can choose daily what brings joy and let go of my own expectations and those of another. Life is so much easier when my heart is in alignment with my actions and my purpose. Today that seems to involve being here now - offering my original paintings to give joy and an uplifting of spirits; encouraging others in living their dreams now,; and helping cancer survivors/caregivers find refuge, healing, and joy in painting.
Time at the canvas reflects what we choose to pull out of the field of possibilities in both our outer and the inner worlds. On the canvas, like in life, as we embrace the light and the dark, we can learn with the least amount of effort whatever lessons are ours. Art or creativity IS for the masses; it is most certainly an avenue of healing for many. Embracing and being involved in a creative process contributes to our ability to experience greater health, love, and connections to others and our planet. The woman in the above painting appeared intuitively after I had painted my first layers of written affirmations of courage, love, and risks. I feel and see the spirit of my deceased daughter, Melissa. The animal spirit of Wolf, who transmutes knowledge into wisdom, came shortly after "Melissa's Spirit" as I painted the written affirmations of knowledge, justice, and gratitude for my first layer.
Early in 2020 Covid year, I loved using palette knife as I wanted to use my palette knife to cut through preconceived perceptions of what art might be. I had a friend ask if one particular painting was of a rose or a poppy and I laughed in delight. Exactly! The diversity of hearts calls for a diversity in art. I wanted and still want my paintings to be ART THAT SPEAKS TO YOUR HEART and paintings that convey feelings that are light and uplifting for our spirit.