• Susan Klinger, Artist

And now for something a little different

This blog has been on a rather extended hiatus. If you are not aware, my husband passed away within the last year of this writing. Prior to that were months of treatments, doctor visits and sheer fear of what was to come. For these reasons, my art got pushed to the back burner. Way back.


But as an artist at my core, the desire to create, or maybe just the desire to push color around, eventually bubbled to the surface. As has happened in the past through my husband’s years of various medical issues, the art that I produce in the midst of medical chaos is not the art I would typically create.


My “usual” art involves thumbnail sketches, value plans and focused concentration on where I want the piece to ultimately conclude. This planning and focus were just not possible following such a tremendous loss. As a side note, I will tell you that the loss of a spouse leaves a hole in your life that is not like any other experience. You are not just missing a person in your life, but your entire life as you know it is changed forever. Thus, while navigating this ‘new’ life, my approach to art felt different too.


Those first drippy brushstrokes

I needed to create something. I had no idea what, nor did I really care at that point. I just needed to immerse myself in the world that is as familiar to me as breathing. I bought a large canvas, larger than most of my work and dug out my #acrylics. If you have been following me for any time, you are aware that my medium of choice is #pastel. But this is where I departed from ‘familiar’. My world as I knew it was out of control and I sought a medium that would drip and flow in a similar out of control way.

A friend had given me a bouquet of red tulips and I had done a few simple thumbnail

sketches previously that would be my starting point. After a very loose sketch, I began to paint. Large, loose, juicy brushstrokes. Drips. Even a spray bottle to encourage drips.

It was cathartic. I didn’t ‘think’. I just painted. This happened over several nights as I allowed things to dry and then I would jump in again.

Over time it began to look more realistic, I presume because that it my natural tendency. Then came the wide yellow stripes. There was no plan. I wanted to disrupt what had begun to look real, just like my life had been disrupted, I suppose. Then I stopped. I had no idea where to take the painting from there, so it sat. For weeks if my memory serves me right.


But eventually, I wanted the flowers to prevail, but with subtle evidence of the stripes remaining. In retrospect, I see it as a metaphor for me. I wanted the “Me” to prevail, despite the intense grief. Yet I knew the grief would leave its mark. And it should. You can’t possibly love someone for 40 years and not have the loss leave its mark. Ultimately the tulips became more realistic, but if one looks closely, the stripes are still there. As are the drips and splashes. Peeking through if you know where to look. Evidence of how it got this far. As it is with me. The grief will always be there. If you know where to look, you will see it, but hopefully it will recede under layers of what will become my new life. It is a work in progress. Grief sucks. Art heals.

"Tulip Field", Acrylic, 22 x 28, ©Susan E. Klinger