Painting and writing keeps this author moving forward

Susan Manzke
Alcohol paintings challenge Susan Manzke's creativity and artistry.

I can’t help but think back to last summer. When Bob was feeling good, he and I bought a white canopy, finding a fun way to get out of the house. That canopy gave us a cover when we took my books and art to Seymour Farmer’s Market. Going to that market and the Oneida Farmer’s market was our way of looking busy and seeing other people.

Usually, we only sold a few items, but mostly we had fun watching everyone, shoppers, and sellers. We also ate our lunch and supper at the market, so it was a good outing for both of us.

I had plans to take my artwork to more places this year. In addition to the farmer’s markets, I wanted to set up at local Arts and Crafts shows. Of course, you all know that the darn pandemic closed a lot down. It also closed me down. Maybe it’s losing Bob that really kept me away from any shows this year. I’m not sure. Everything was more fun when I could share it with him, even work.

Mostly, I’m sitting at home.

Lucky for me some people remember me and my offerings. For starters, a few faithful readers have sent checks for my books. Because of them, I’m working on my column collections from my 40-year history.

Recently, a few customers came across my alcohol ink painted tiles at Sissy’s Treats and Treasures in Seymour. In a roundabout way, I found out that some tiles were purchased as gifts. I think that’s an honor to be thought highly enough to have your work end up wrapped for someone’s special day.

I hadn’t painted for months. When Bob’s cancer returned last fall, everything else went on the back burner. I don’t know how I kept writing my column during this time, but I eked one out a week. Taking care of my sick husband was tops on my list.

One of our outings last summer was at Tractor Supply in Appleton.

This summer, painting without an outlet seemed useless. It wasn’t until Sissy’s shop sold out of my Home of the Hamburger tiles that I took it up again.

It was kind of odd working with the alcohol inks. They do strange things when put on a tile. Some good and some not so good. I had to refresh my knowledge so I could paint with the inks.

I do like the freeness of this method of art. If I’m lucky they work for me and blend, making my paintings interesting. When I’m unlucky, I take straight 90% alcohol on a tissue, wipe the tile clean, and start again—on some pieces I’ve started over quite a few times before I found something I liked.

It feels good to paint again, as it does to write.

Maybe next summer, when the world has settled down, I’ll pack up my canopy, my books, and artwork, and head out for some farmer’s markets and art shows.

It won’t ever be the same without Bob, but well, I have to move, if not forward, just move. My YouTube recordings of old columns from the 80s and my daily blog keep me moving, too. My faithful followers keep me working there, too. (Though I have to admit that videos of my kitten, Car-E playing gets more views than anything else I do, except when I post a nice sunset on Facebook.)

Some finished Home of the Hamburger, Seymour Wisconsin, heading over to Sissy’s in Seymour.

The summer of 2020 is going to be memorable, but eventually, it will be behind us.

May you be blessed with happy memories, like I am. And may you share them with your family.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;