Retirement gives Susan Kruze the time to paint while the beautiful landscape of the Cariboo gives her the inspiration.
Kruze is this month’s featured artists at the South Cariboo Business Centre’s Showcase Gallery, run by the Cariboo Artists Guild.
“Art is just a way of passing time. I can be in my bedroom that’s been turned into a painting area and I can lose three or four hours without even realizing it. Time just flies by and I love the process of building up different layers of colour, I love doing glazes to intensify the colours,” Kruze said. “At the end when I feel as if I have a painting almost finished I’ll let it sit in the living room and I’ll look at it for two to three days and I say to myself ‘ok is there anything that needs changes?’”
A retired schoolteacher, Kruze said she’s enjoyed art since a young age and took art class while in high school and took two years of studio visual fine arts in university. As a teacher, she loved painting with her students because it allowed for creativity amongst the class.
After retiring in 2006, Kruze joined a local artists’ guild in Summerland and took classes on painting, including some acrylic workshops. In 2012, she and her husband moved to 108 Mile Ranch where she said the beauty of the Cariboo Chilcotin really motivated her to paint.
“I just absolutely love being outdoors and my husband and I spend a lot of time outside. In the summer we camp a lot, kayak, boat, hike and explore backroads. In the winter I snowshoe, cross country ski and walk,” Kruze said. “I usually have my camera and love taking photographs. Photographs and sketches are what helps me to create the works I like to create.”
In addition to landscapes, Kruze also enjoys painting wildlife she photographs on her hikes which she was encouraged to do by a professional Penticton artist named Terry Issac. From his workshops, she learned amazing skills like how to paint animal fur, and when she moved to the Cariboo and joined the Cariboo Artists Guild, she invited him to do workshops here in 100 Mile House.
As an avid birdwatcher, many of her paintings feature birds as she makes a habit of only using pictures she takes herself, which is why she has yet to paint a moose or an elk. One day, Kruze remarked with a laugh, she hopes to get a picture of these elusive animals.
Kruze also dabbles in the medium of watercolour and paints cards sold at Parkside Gallery and the 108 Mile Supermarket. She said she’ll sell the original and then five copies of the original.
“If I’m working on a large piece I prefer acrylic because if you make a mistake you can cover it up. With watercolour, you can’t do that. So mainly when I do watercolour, I do smaller pieces, but I love how watercolour is a little more unexpected as to how it’s going to look in the end,” Kruze said. “You can’t control the watercolours as easily as you can acrylic paints. I really like both acrylic and watercolour but they are very different.”
Being a guild member is great, Kruze said, as her fellow members both challenge and support her in her artistic journey. She said they’re incredibly lucky to have the Showcase Gallery all to themselves as it gives everyone the chance to have a solo show.
Most of her paintings on display are older ones, Kruze said, and include a painting of the relic truck abandoned at Quesnel Forks, a bald eagle and a hummingbird. While there’s no theme to the gallery, she hopes people enjoy the sheer variety of things she likes to paint.
“I hope they get a sense of the beauty I saw when I took the photograph that ended up becoming the painting.”