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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Susan Joy Gustafson

“The rainy, temperate Pacific Northwest is my home, but we travel to Hawaii each winter. There, I am inspired by the vibrant climate, colors, textures and patterns.

Painting became my passion after retiring from a dental hygiene career 15 years ago, due to my progressive genetic blindness. I became a yoga teacher the same year. Aging with grace, and cultivating beauty inside and out, has saved me from the grief of vision and mobility loss.

Retreats for artists opened my heart to exploring watercolor pigments and techniques; design comes naturally.

A blank canvas used to scare me. Now I savor the magical alchemy of water pigments, salt and paper!

After drawing a composition, black pigma ink is added to define shapes. Joy begins to flower as the pigments are introduced. There is an ongoing experience of brainstorming whimsical nuances that will bring pleasure.

For years my paintings diminished in size as my vision shrunk. Now with tropical fabrics, quilting 60×80 inch fabric compositions are my passion (offerings to Lutheran World Relief). I am still improving my ‘adaptive’ sewing skills and hope to enter these original quilts next year. My heart is happy to embrace my visual limitations!”

Hula (Dance)

Mana'olana (Hope)