I decided to use this journal as an opportunity to tell the stories behind some of my artwork. It is only fitting that I start with the story of my most well known series of paintings titled ‘Benediction’.
In 1989 I was working as an independent artist at Accent Graphics/Phoenix Art Press /aka Phoenix Art Group. For a couple of years I hand-painted etchings for the design market. Those were the good-old-days at PAG. I’m sure more of the PAG story will emerge along the way. It was about 1994, I was getting bored and the owners of PAG, John Cline and Joseph Gracia asked me what would make me happy. I said I wanted to paint my own original work instead of hand coloring other people’s art. I guess this is where I got my big chance in the art world, and I will always be grateful to those two guys. They said, okay Susan, you paint whatever you want, one day a week, and we’ll give you $100 for what you produce. That’s a pretty good deal, not many people want to pay an artist to develop their style.
I knew I wanted to paint the figure ever since I attended California College of the Arts in the 70s where I studied anatomy and figure drawing. Some of my influences were Modigliani, Lempika and Picasso. I loved art deco and wanted the figures in my work to be contemplative and sensual.
In 1995 the image of Benediction was selected for use on the High Point Brochure. High Point is the big show every year for the home furnishings industry in North Carolina. She was also featured that year at Art Expo at the Jacob Javitz Center in NYC.
Phoenix Art Group needed to be able to reproduce her. Most artists would opt for giclee’ prints or serigraphs, but because I use imported papers, composition leaf and various materials to build up the surface, I chose to recreate her as a series of originals. She was 44″ high by 30″ wide and I painted her image over 200 times. I’m not catholic, but she was almost like saying a prayer or a hail Mary, every time I painted her. In 1996 at the first Inizio of Phoenix Art Group I demonstrated my painting technique of Benediction.
In about 1996 she was turned into a poster by Grand Image and sold, I have no idea how many, thousands of posters, world wide. That poster is now out of print. I was approached by the University of Toronto Press and she was used for a beautiful book jacket for a book by Marie Carriere titled ‘Writing in the Feminine in French and English Canada“. Lastly, my little Benediction has been out there in the world as a greeting card, published by Canadian Art Prints.
It’s interesting to see how an image gets used. I know many people loved her and that makes me happy. I left Phoenix Art Group in 1996 when I moved to New York City. This is the only series of this size (200 +) that I ever did. I may do a series of 5, but more likely I paint one painting at a time. Yours truly, Susan Krieg.