About Susan


When she was four years old, Susan knew that she was an artist. Growing up in Southern California, she pursued the arts vigorously throughout her education studying both oil and watercolor painting,sculpture, pottery, jewelry, graphic arts and design.

      In 1970 Susan moved to rural Trinidad in Humboldt County, California and got married two years later. In 1973 when she became a mother, Susan switched from oil painting to watercolors to avoid the temptation of little fingers playing in the oil paint.

      She was divorced in 1975, and as a single parent did not have the capital to start her own business, so Susan embarked on a wide variety of jobs over the next few years. She labored as a tree planter on a reforestation crew, followed by "shaking crab" at the Eureka Lazio Seafood Plant, then was a "boat puller" on a salmon boat in 1976. After salmon season Susan worked in a autobody shop during the day and as a cocktail waitress at night to pay off her divorce. The following year the body shop was sold, and Susan took a job as a secretary in a real estate office, and by 1978 had her real estate license.

      In her spare time, Susan created and sold metal wall sconces, working in the carport of the duplex where she lived. Also, throughout all these jobs, she was a member of the Trinidad Volunteer Fire Department. In 1978, Susan was elected Fire Chief, which was a partly paid position. She remained Municipal Fire Chief until 1983, in addition to being a single parent, realtor and working on her art. She produced a wide variety of art throughout these years, from welded metal sconces to commissioned oil paintings to signs and banners for local businesses.

       In 1983, Susan was severely injured in a fire, which resulted in the partial traumatic amputation of her left (and dominant) hand, which ended her career in the fire service. After three years of many surgeries followed by years of therapy, Susan's hand was mostly functional again. She took this as a sign from the universe to not waste her talents.

       In 1986, Susan got married again and started her current business Susan Morton, Distinctive Fine Art the following year. 1992 brought a new baby boy and by 1997 Susan again was a single parent and took up employment in commercial door sales. In 1998 her oldest son, also a freelance artist, was creating blown glass items and couldn't keep up with his orders so he taught Susan how to blow glass. She did that production work for a few years, in addition to her fine and commercial art. Then, quite by accident, she discovered how to create the gold-fumed finish on glass, which contributed to her creating Chameleon Candles and other items she developed.

       Describing her art expertise, she discusses surviving as a freelance artist in a small market (Humboldt County has only 130,000 people) by diversifying over the years and marketing outside her area. She produces watercolor paintings, sculptures of wood, glass, metal and concrete. Susan also creates logos, signs and banners for local businesses. She has also designed and created accurate scale models of monorail trains cast in polyester resin, parade floats, museum displays, memorial markers, fountains and Trompe di Oiel works for fine restaurants. "I am a full service artist" Susan says. Overall, she is particularly drawn to hand-blown borosilicate glass, loving the vibrant colors and the total involvement of working with molten materials. She loves creating functional art.