Starchild, aka, Suzy aka Suzann Starchild Shepard painted with her aunt in California when she was 15 in 1956, and then didn't pick up a brush to paint until six decades later as she turned 75 in 2015. She liked painting quickly, often while listening to music, and acrylics are suited to quick, spontaneous work. However, the painter Starchild disappeared in 2016 when her youngest adult daughter, Melissa died suddenly of an aggressive form of leukemia. Suzy began the painful grief journey familiar to all who lose children or loved ones.   Ironically, she herself is a two-time survivor of cancer. She joined Dr. Phil Anton’s program (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) for Strong Survivors and caregivers around 2008 and helped in fundraising efforts, including fundraising efforts to build our new SIH Cancer Institute. 



My philosophy of painting is my philosophy of life which continues to evolve even as I enter my elderhood – my time as a crone. Time is precious. Life can only be lived in the present movement – not in the past or the future. We must let our ego take a balcony seat and bring our awareness and attention to center stage and whatever is happening now.  I can choose daily what brings joy and let go of my own expectations and those of another. Life is so much easier when I am in alignment with my dharma – my purpose. Today that seems to involve being here now, coaching others in living their dreams now, and helping cancer survivors/caregivers find refuge, healing, and joy in painting.


Time at the canvas reflects what we choose to pull out of the field of possibilities in both our outer and the inner worlds. On the canvas, like in life, as we embrace the light and the dark, we can learn with the least amount of effort whatever lessons are ours. Art or creativity IS for the masses; it is most certainly an avenue of healing for many. Embracing and being involved in a creative process raises our vibrational levels so we can experience greater health, love, and connections to others and our mother earth.

Early in 2020 Covid year, I loved using palette knife as I wanted to use my palette knife to cut through preconceived perceptions of what art might be. I had a friend ask if one particular painting was of a rose or a poppy and I laughed in delight. Exactly! The diversity of hearts calls for a diversity in art. I wanted and still want my paintings to convey feelings that are light and uplifting for our spirit.

Now five years after Melissa's death, she is becoming a survivor of a different kind. Where she once was a griever trying to survive, she is now a survivor who will always grieve. Starchild began painting again in 2020, the year of Covid 19, and finds getting lost in the moments of painting restorative. Starchild says, "For me, painting today is a part of my spiritual practice. Becoming absorbed in the movement of the colors across the canvas is not only healing, it is a way to keep all focus on what Deepak Chopra calls, present- moment awareness...the only place where life can be fully lived."