Inspired by the ocean, scuba diving and snorkeling adventures, I began to draw fish in the 1980’s. I still created pottery while my collection of colored pencil drawings and acrylic watercolor paintings grew, to the point of naming my artwork “Ocean Dudes by Duda”.
During my pottery years, I didn’t know I had Rheumatoid Arthritis! I consumed Ibuprofen 24/7 to cope with pain. I accepted pain as part of my life, as I worked slumped over a potter’s wheel and mixed all my clay and glazes from scratch, lifting 50 pounds of clay or lifting heavy kiln shelves. Drawing was easier on my back, wrists and hands, than my work as a stoneware potter. Although I grieved the loss of my identity as a potter, eventually I realized I did not have to give up being creative. I just needed to be creative in a different way. Drawing enabled me to experience the cheerfulness of color, without pain.
A strong current took me down a new stream to the world of batiking in 1989. After an inspiring batik class, I discovered that painting layers of hot wax and permanent dyes onto silk habotai fabric was an outstanding technique for creating ocean art! I saw my drawings and acrylic paintings as ideal preparation for my batik designs and part of the synchronization of my life as an artist.
By the age of 50, I was delighted to have 4 productive years of batiking behind me. My batik art was inspired not only by the OCEAN, but also the TROPICS, FRESHWATER FISH, NATURE and MUSIC. As a fiddler in the Timberline String Band, I couldn’t resist also designing a musical series. My fiddle and piano designs in particular, have become very popular on many products in online print-on-demand stores.
Ironically, when I turned 50, I also discovered I had rheumatoid arthritis! Besides working on batiks and fiddling in the band, I also worked on a renovation project, which put me over the edge. That summer I needed crutches to get around, which was challenging with painful wrists and body aches. I would typically take 10 minutes to roll out of bed in the morning. I often wore knee and wrist braces, with joint pain in all my joints due to swelling and episodes of fatigue. My usual optimistic attitude was disappearing with thoughts of a continued decline. Finally, with the diagnosis of RA, I found help with prescription drugs that stopped erosion of my bones and helped with inflamed joints. Although I was reluctant to consume these chemicals, I succumbed, due to my desperation to reduce pain and get my life back in order. I became more hopeful. Luckily, I have a wonderful husband that has been by my side all these years! I’m also blessed with a family that’s been considerate, patient and helpful.
I avoid consuming foods that I consider triggers for swelling, such as corn, potatoes, foods that are high in sodium, also avoiding chemical preservatives and sodas. I despise high fructose corn syrup and it appears needlessly in so many processed foods. I love whole grains and the veggies from our organic garden! I give myself permission to rest when I need to rest, to avoid fatigue, exercise with caution, balance my activities, and try to reduce stress. Neither my husband, nor I consume alcohol. We’ve been alcohol free for 25 years! I believe this contributes to a healthier brain and body! I need to do whatever I can to help myself!
I’m grateful for being self employed as an artist! Luckily, I have the freedom to adjust my work and activities according to how I feel, especially during occasional flare-ups. So that I don’t stay in one position for a long time while doing artwork, I take housework breaks. I change my activities so that I use different muscles and joints. When needed, I pamper myself with pillows and props. I’ve treated myself to 4 pairs of wrist braces, including the memory foam braces for women. Yes, they are pink on the inside. Occasionally, I use a small stuffed animal under my wrist or elbow at the computer when need be. Giving myself permission to nap, even for 15 minutes, can prevent fatigue and can be so refreshing! There’s nothing like a long hot shower to wash aches and pains down the drain. All my shoes have cushioned pads in them. I say NO, when someone asks me to lift something that’s beyond my limitations. I avoid shaking hands with people. Some folks are not aware that they grip too hard and shake your wrist unnecessarily. Self-care is the name of the game! Taking care of myself, enables me to care for others when need be. I’m also able to have a great time with our kids and grandchildren.
My ultimate goal is to license my artwork for use on textiles, wallpaper, flooring, gift wrap, stationery, scrapbooking papers and more! I’m extremely busy digitally reworking images of my batik art, colored pencil drawings, acrylic watercolors and also photographs, creating unique collections. I’m now prepared for licensing my artwork, which has been a longtime dream of mine. I’ve established “internet presence”, with several print-on-demand sites that feature my art on products. I have also made wonderful connections on “Linked In” and have utilized Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. to acquire online presence. I’m also excited to see my art on FABRIC, and to have it available to the public via Spoonflower!
Lately, I’m on fire with ideas! Despite the poor economy, you would find me exceptionally energetic, motivated and hopeful. I do believe my positive attitude is providing my body with “happy” and “healing” endorphins. I’m doing very well physically and emotionally! I play fiddle regularly in the band and at jam sessions, and attend music festivals. I love folk, swing and Cajun dancing and can clog dance again too, with caution, of course. I know my limits! I’ve written over 100 original fiddle tunes as well. My family and I reap the benefits of my improved energy level!
By creatively sharing my love for color and the ocean, I hope to positively influence mankind’s awareness of our fragile ecosystem. My “Ocean Dudes” artwork allows me to bring the splendors of the underwater world to the surface, creating cheerful art for others to enjoy. Art and ocean enthusiasts can build distinctive collections. By creating pleasant art related to nature and music, I hope others receive joy from viewing my art on products and wearing apparel featuring my art!
I’m delighted about my life as an artist, grateful for the guidance and support I’ve received, and excited about my future! Focusing on producing artwork is a fabulous distraction from RA. Art licensing, here I come!
Currently, I offer “Ocean Dudes by Duda, “Sue Duda Batiks” and “Tranzitionz by Suze”! I welcome you to visit my new blog and sites featuring my art!
Sue C. Duda
http://suedudadesigns.blogspot.com My NEW ART BLOG!
http://www.printfection.com/musicshop MUSIC SHIRTS, CUTTING BOARDS, TOTES
http://twitter.com/sueduda FOLLOW ME!
http://www.simplylicensed.com Where manufacturers and artists meet.