Krieg's abstract painting titled 'Leaving'
52″ x 40″ mixed media on canvas by Susan Krieg

This is a large painting – almost as tall as I am! It started out as an abstract color field painting, using blues of different temperatures and values. That part was fun, I felt that I had painted space, upon which I needed to paint myself. Oddly the large figure was painted in the position of walking off the canvas. That would be considered “bad” design to have a figure walking off, as it would lead the eye off the canvas as well. Although I tried to add a figure walking onto the canvas on the left, I was basically stuck here for a couple of months. All I could think of was my desire to leave and to go home. It’s a strange feeling to be in a place where you live, yet have a longing to go home. Having been a nomad for more than 50 years, I don’t really have an obvious physical place to call home and this painting haunted me over the summer.

Stemming from the volunteer art therapy work I did at the VA hospital in Phoenix in the 80s I know that painting is definitely therapeutic. One directive that I liked to use was to suggest that the paper is your space and you can paint yourself into your space. So, I examined my quandary about leaving where I am and wanting to go home. Is home necessarily a physical place, or one’s place of origin? If so, I’ve thought of all the places I’ve lived and I don’t have a great desire to go back. My place of origin, Fargo ND, is too cold for me now, though it has wonderful remembrances and I love the people with whom I am still in contact. So is this longing a gathering of people one loves or is it just a state of mind? If it’s where my family is or where people I love are, then my home is scattered all across this country. It could be that longing for home is a longing for one’s spiritual awakening and I sure don’t know when that will come.

One morning in October 2019, I looked at the unfinished painting and the abstract strokes overwhelming suggested little figures in all sorts of positions and contortions, like watching clouds turn into shapes, I painted them as they emerged. I know I’ve said this before, I believe an artist only paints herself.  This had turned into an art therapy moment. With all these little parts of me, I realized that home is just me in the moment accepting myself. That home is a feeling of completeness and satisfaction. There really is no leaving without taking all the parts with.

‘Leaving’ is 52” x 40” using a variety water based paints on canvas with the inclusion of paper and plastic chosen for their light reflective qualities.

I hope you take a minute to zoom in and visit.