The Art of Susan Seddon Boulet
In that mist-filled realm where reality and myth mingle, images are conjured by a rare few who can perceive the surreal in earthly terms. One such interpreter of the familiar in unfamiliar terms was Susan Seddon Boulet.
Her unique vision of life may have been the result of her upbringing. A native of Brazil, Susan was not actually Brazilian, but the daughter of English parents, and she spent her adult years in California.
As a child, Susan lived on a ranch in South America and horses, cattle and the creatures in nature became the subjects of her earliest drawings. She was also influenced by a loving father who told her stories and opened her imagination to a world of folk tales and fantasy. She would draw on these early memories all her life. Her own perception developed a dominant theme in her work which is a blend of shape changing human forms and animals which seem be captured in mid transformation.
Susan attended the ranch school with the children of the workers, then was sent to St. George's, a boarding school in Sao Paulo, and later to a finishing school in Switzerland, where she developed her talents as an artist before returning to Brazil.
As a young adult, Susan moved to the United States, where she married a student at Berkeley, Lawrence Boulet. He was credited with encouraging her to pursue her interest in art as a profession and helping her market her work. Unfortunately, Lawrence died in 1980, leaving Susan to raise their son, Eric, by herself. Through her own efforts and the help of some close friends, she managed to continue painting in the difficult years as a young widow while she balanced her roles as mother, artist and independent business woman.
The experiences of her changing life were reflected in the mood and tone of her paintings. Her early works were more joyful, folkloric and simpler in theme than her later paintings. She brought fantastic characters to life, using a bright palette of colors. Later, brilliant hues gave way to more somber, earth tones. A sophisticated manipulation of dream-like human images, with animal features, and aspects of supernatural beings with natural traits emerged in her later work which were rendered in pencil, to which she applied pastels and ink in a distinctive and very personal style.
It has been reported, by those who knew her well, that Susan Seddon Boulet drew her inspiration from the poetry and folklore she read. If that is so, it is interesting to observe the completion of the creative circle in the words of poets and writers who now draw inspiration from her paintings to infuse the written word with the magical sense of a world where there is little separation between nature and the human experience.