This holiday season, we’re excited to introduce Pomegranate, a publishing and printing company that offers its customers “art you can bring home.” In celebration of Pomegranate’s commitment to inclusivity, we’re excited to spotlight some of the brilliant women artists in their catalogue. Read more about Pomegranate below.
FF2 Guest Post by Reanne Rodrigues
Susan Seddon Boulet (1941-1997) lived her life in search of the magical and magnificent. She was born in Brazil in 1941 to English parents who had emigrated from South Africa. She spent most of her early childhood on a large cattle ranch where she experienced great freedom and closeness to nature.
Susan quickly became enchanted with nature and developed a deep and abiding love for animals. Cows, horses, and other livestock were among her first artistic subjects and she portrayed them all in lively, colorful sketches. She also developed a fascination for fairy tales and fantasy from the stories told to her by her father and the farmworkers. These tales ignited images in her mind that would later become very influential in her artworks. It was these formative experiences in her younger years that shaped much of Susan’s artistry.
Arriving in the USA in 1967, she married Lawrence Boulet, who took a very active role in encouraging her and promoting her artwork. In 1969, she gave birth to their son Eric.
“Eric somehow freed the child in me; gave me permission to enjoy fantasy… gave me permission to do unicorns and dragons.”
After Larry’s death in 1980, Susan made yearly trips back to Brazil to derive ideas from the culture and landscape to serve as inspiration for her work. Her experiences there became catalysts for her creativity, and soon she became a very notable San Francisco Bay Area artist.
Susan’s art was fueled by many influences: mythology and poetry, Jungian psychology, the workshops of Angeles Arrien, worldwide spiritual traditions, the Tarot, the I Ching, the writings of Laurens van der Post, Ursula K. Le Guin and Anaïs Nin, and of course her wholehearted fondness for animals and the natural world.
Beginning in the 1970s, she created over two thousand pieces of art. Although her early works were more light-hearted and simple (depicting brightly-colored fantasy and medieval figures), Susan eventually evolved into painting very complex images of anthropomorphic Goddesses, animals, and Shamans. Working principally in French oil pastel, inks and occasionally pencil, she was able to carve her own distinctive style characterized by the use of color applied in layers from which dream-like forms emerged, giving her artworks a mystical and ethereal quality.
The fantastical creatures she portrayed — rising up from the misty land of dreams — took viewers to the outer limits of imagination. By blurring the distinction between the subject and object to create spectral auras that permeated the landscape, Susan was able to mesmerize her audience and implore us to look closely. This unique, personal style suffused with detail, texture, and color, is what makes Susan’s work so widely renowned.
Many have also praised the fairytale quality of Susan’s work which promotes a sentimental recalling of childhood dreams — of castles and magic that evolve into powerful archetypal figures welling up from what Carl Jung once called “the deepest springs of life.” Whether she’s depicting unicorns, mermaids, goddesses, or jesters, Susan’s sensitivity to the interpenetration of seen and unseen worlds creates a sense of awe and wonder. No other artist has ever given us such a clear passage into this mysterious world.
In Susan Seddon Boulet: A Retrospective, Michael Babcock — a longtime friend and lover of her art — describes her style as “polished looking pieces with jewel-like colors and precise, intricate detailing.” He goes on to write: “Susan’s images, even seen for the first time, can seem hauntingly familiar and known. The unconscious speaks in images, so her images speak directly to that part of the psyche…”
Susan died at her home in Oakland on April 28, 1997 after a long struggle with cancer. She was 55. Although her later works seem to explore the darker aspects of her psyche, Susan still retains the honesty, energy, and warmth that endeared her to so many. Her artwork continues to move and inspire people around the world.
Even though you might not be familiar yet with Susan’s name, you might have come across art that closely resembles her work in a wide range of spaces — from crystal shops and metaphysical boutiques to book jackets and album covers. In fact, one of Susan’s most recognized partnerships was with Ursula K. Le Guin, as the illustrator of her book Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight. In this edition, Le Guin credits Susan as a “sharer of visions.”
Today Susan 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 and published works include Shaman: The Paintings of Susan Seddon Boulet (1989), Susan Seddon Boulet: The Goddess Paintings (1994), and The Power of the Bear (1998).
In 2022, I wish for Susan’s work to become more widely known. Although her name resides in the footnotes of many other Wikipedia pages, she does not have her own Wikipedia page… yet. It seems rather surprising given her art’s powerful, spiritual quality and universality, which has profoundly impacted so many people from all walks of life. Her friend and spiritual teacher Angeles Arrien is quoted as saying: “Her genius was to invite others to see far beyond the obvious and to delight in discovery and entering yet another enchanting and mysterious place.” But it’s the writer Anaïs Nin who puts it perfectly: “[Susan’s] 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.”
Pomegranate is offering TWO new wall calendars by Susan Seddon Boulet in 2022! Check them each out here:
Remember, the artist — or in this case, the artist’s estate — receives a greater portion of the proceeds if you buy directly from Pomegranate.
© Reanne Rodrigues (12/17/21) Special for FF2 Media®
Click here for additional books and note cards in Pomegranate’s Susan Seddon Boulet’s collection.
Watch an illuminating 30 minute interview with Susan Seddon Boulet on YouTube.
Click here for the McNaughton Fine Art page which includes the quote from Anais Nin.
Order a copy of Ursula K. Le Guin’s award-winning novelette Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight (with 20 color illustrations plus cover by Susan Seddon Boulet) from Amazon.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Images from Pomegranate’s two 2022 Susan Seddon Boulet calendars have been provided by Pomegranate and are used here by FF2 Media with their permission. All Rights Reserved by Pomegranate.