Since the time that she was drawing on the walls of her parents’ house as a kindergartner, Suzanne LaKamp Adkins, OD, FAAO, has turned to art as a useful diversion. Her day job keeps her busy, working on ocular disease cases and co-managing on glaucoma, retina and refractive surgery as an OD in a 30-doctor OD/MD practice in Kansas City, Kansas.
But working with acrylics and oils and most recently wax pastels brings a different dimension to Dr. Adkins’ life. “I make art to bring balance to a part of my life. A lot of us expect complete fulfillment out of our jobs, and I love optometry, but you can’t expect the world out of one thing,” she says. “You need to find other areas to deliver that,” she says.
Dr. Adkins has not taken art classes beyond those offered in the regular school curriculum. “I had one teacher, Mrs. Presley, who made such an impression on me with her encouragement. That sticks with you,” she says. But she was “a STEM girl. I wanted to be an engineer, and I love science and math and found optometry. I never though that doing art could be a ‘thing.’”
Yet she was inspired by her mother, another untrained talent who learned to paint by watching YouTube classes and tutorials. Her mother put some of her work in art shows and encouraged Dr. Adkins to pursue it, too.
Although they live about three hours apart, they are each other’s muses and encourage each other to try different mediums and styles. They had their realism period, and right now, Dr. Adkins is a little more into abstracts. “I’m in my Picasso phase now, while my mother paints like a German expressionist,” she says. “Her work tends to be a little funnier, while mine is a little more serious.”
Dr. Adkins’ anatomy training shows in her work, too. There’s a 5’x5’ retina, for example, and some other eye studies. Dr. Adkins has exhibited her art in two juried shows this summer, part of her return to art as a “me-time” activity apart from being doctor, wife and mom of three children, ages 11, 4 and 2. “I never make art to sell it, but I do plan to start selling prints,” she says.
When she worked in a satellite practice previously where she was the only doctor on site, she did hang her artwork there. It became something she and her patients could talk about. And she’ll encourage everyone to try it. “Art is more accessible than many people realize. They can be intimidated by it, but it can be a wonderful creative outlet,” she says.
See more of her art here.
Read stories about how other doctors have brought their own art into the practices.
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