Susan Seddon Boulet
Susan Seddon Boulet , a noted San Fransico Bay Area artist, died at her home in Oakland on April 28, 1997 after a long struggle with cancer. She was fifty-five.
Susan Eleanor Seddon was born in Brazil in 1941, of English parents who had emigrated from South Africa. Susan’s mother Eleanor Seddon died, two years later, shortly after the birth of her scond child, Patrick.
Susan’s early childhood was spent on a large citrus ranch, managed by her father, Eric Seddon. Susan loved the freedom of the farm and its closeness to nature. Encouraged by her father, she began drawing; her first subjects were the cows and horses of the farm. She always enjoyed a rich fantasy life; as a young girl she loved the folk tales and stories told by her father and caretakers on the farm. This is where she first developed her love of fantasy and fairy tales; images that would later be very influential in her art. Her formal education began at the company school, then later at St. George’s, an English boarding school in Sao Paulo. Susan was a very religious young woman and contemplated becoming a nun; until her father, who could not tolerate that possibility, sent her to finishing school in Switzerland. While in Switzerland, Susan began her training as an artist.
Her father left the world of corporate agriculture to pioneer a small family farm in Goias, Brazil; but because of failing family finances Susan had to return to the farm It was this early introduction to many countries and cultures that planted the seeds of her passion to travel, helped her become tri-lingual and able to integrate almost anywhere in the world.
Susan came to the United States in 1967 and worked for Braniff Airlines. It was also in 1967 that she met and married Lawrence Boulet, who was studying at the University of California at Berkeley after serving in the United States Airforce. It was Larry who inspired Susan to dive more seriously into her art and they could often be found on a Saturday afternoon in a local park selling Susan’s work from a fence or a line strung between two trees. When their son Eric was born the family moved to Oakland. In 1980 Larry died of cancer. It was a difficult time but with the help of friends and family Susan was able to integrate the roles of mother, business woman and artist. A yearly return to her beloved family and Brazil, helped to nurture her soul and further inspire her to continue her growth as an artist.
Her early work was clearly more light hearted and simpler in content than later work. Portrayals of medieval figures and fantasy characters, appearing in rainbow bright colors, predominated her early work but evolved into a more complex layering of the anthropomorphic images of animals, Shamans and Goddesses. Working primarily in French oil pastels, inks and occasionally pencil, she developed a distinctive personal style characterized by the use of color applied in layers from which dream-like forms emerged. She drew her inspiration from a wide variety of sources: mythology and poetry, Jungian psychology and worldwide spiritual traditions, as well as a deep love of animal and the natural world. There is a fairy tale quality to her work, a sentimental reacalling of childhood dreams of fairies and castles and magic. Her art exerted and continues to exert a profound influence on the lives that it touches. Anais Nin wrote:
“These figures are out of our dreams, those which flee from us upon awakening, those which are dispersed like dew at dawn, those which fall apart between our fingers like dust-roses.
Susan has a more muted step, or perhaps she is invisible…more soft-voiced, soft-gestured, as the images do not escape from her. She can return from her voyages with intact descriptions…from places never visited by us but which we remember.”
Today Susan Seddon-Boulet is considered one of the founders of the visionary art movement in the United States. Her paintings are widely held in collections around the world. Published works include “Shaman: The Paintings of Susan Seddon Boulet”, “Susan Seddon-Boulet: The Goddess Paintings”, “The Power of the Bear” and a most magnificent overview of the artists’ life and art “Susan Seddon-Boulet: A Retrospective” .
The artist took great pleasure in being present when her paintings were shown, and those that met her, however briefly, were invariably deeply touched by her empathy, warmth, gentleness, modesty and charm.