Old work, new work.

I'm currently part of the Cultivate mentoring programme run by DASH and my new mentor, Dean Melbourne has sent me a list of questions to think about. He wants me to try and write 500 words describing my art practice, which has induced a mixture of deep introspection, curiosity and panic!

Self introspection and awareness is really hard for me, probably because of my autistic brain I guess. Also I am having to learn to get over the idea that there are ways of making art that are forbidden, that I *should* only be making work in a certain acceptable way. I've really been wrestling with this notion in the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, as part of this thinking process I dived into my huge collection of old drawings and hauled out these ones made when I was at art school. 

I'm so surprised to see that what I thought was a recent obsession with drawing circles was in fact something that gripped me a decade ago! Honestly! My inability to connect with myself is unbelievable! It's exciting to uncover these though. I'm looking at some of them and wondering how on earth I even made some of those marks. Looks like I need to do some re-learning...

(Oh and I think I've finally got a handle on what I'm going to write by the way; but that's for another post)


Something Else

Shelter: after Hiroshima 2006
Wax, thread, steel tacks, silk cushions, carbon fiber frame
I have recently been thinking about how to describe my art practice and I’ve come to realise that what I am interested in is just drawing and making marks.
My work is profoundly (?) simple. It is about the mark, the line and the materials I am using. Just that.

But I have always felt that I should be making art About Something.

This means that I’ll find a way of drawing or making marks that I like and then develop that into something else – for instance using blood to make drawings that were incorporated into a piece about the Feminine Divine, or finding a wonderful way of drawing with thread that was made into the piece, Shelter: after Hiroshima.

I realise that I’ve dressed my art up in concepts and ideas that are not really what I’m interested in because it seems to me that everybody who is making art, is making art that is also talking about Something Else.

In the West, many years ago, art was primarily about God and religion. People made pictures because the Church paid them to. Then they started making pictures that were about rich people, because they were paid to do that too. But because of the original religious reasons for making images, the rich people paintings referenced mythology, or used visual metaphors to describe the patron’s wealth, intelligence, charitable works or piety.
Eventually, and perhaps inspired by current political ideas, some artists started making images about other members of their communities, not just the rich. They also became fascinated by advances in science and rational thought and began making work that was influenced by those ideas.
Today, artists make work about, or  are inspired by, a vast range of ideas, philosophies and scientific and political theories.

It seems to me that art is always about something else, something additional to the work itself.

It’s like shoes. Shoes are not just coverings for feet. In our culture anyway, shoes ‘speak’ to a person’s identity, financial status, job. People make huge assumptions about other people just by looking at their shoes!

Is this what art is, the use of visuals/sound/sculpture to talk about Something Else?

Splatter. Ink on paper 2015
Now as far as I can work out, my art is not about Something Else. It’s really just about making marks, or finding marks. I guess people might layer their own expectations on what I do anyway, regardless of how I feel about it. But between you and me, it’s just about the marks, the sheer pleasure of being in the moment, watching what happens.

Does that make it bad art?

Does that make it art at all?

Or maybe the Something Else in my art is the fact that I don’t make art about something else?


Not Something Else

This is a drawing of a circle made with a willow brush and ink,
it isn't something else;
it is not a representation of life after death,
  it is not a meditation on the Universe,
    it is not a representation of any object,
      it is not a representation of any emotion,
        it is not a representation of the artist's mind,
          it is not an intellectual conceit,
            it is not a political statement,
              it is not a display of artistic skill,
                it is not calligraphy,
                  it does not reference any art movement,
                    it does not pay homage to any artist,
                      it does not contain a narrative,
                        it does not reveal some hidden truth,
                          it is not an attempt at immortality,
this is a drawing of a circle made with a willow brush and ink.
Kruse 2017.


Love Letter to an Inanimate Object. No7

Dear Kitchen Table,
You cheap, battered old thing, I do love you.
I didn’t buy you, you were a hand-me-down, but unlike many hand-me-downs I’ve owned in my life, I truly love you.

I love your simple wooden surface. I love to scrub you and oil you and make you look beautiful. I’m sorry for the paint and dye and wine marks that stain your surface. I’m sorry for the experiment with wire wool and homemade ink that I’ve never quite managed to erase.

I hope you like the olive oil?

Thank you for your patient standing. Thank you for your useful surface, which you offer up without any complaint. Thank you for your flatness and stoic legs.

Thank you for being part of our family and for still holding onto the marks that came from your first
family, whom I also love.

Dear Kitchen Table, it makes me happy to see you waiting there at breakfast. I love to dress you with flowers and candles in the evening, I love that sometimes you are my Kitchen Studio. I hope you are with me for a while yet.
With love and appreciation,

Me xxx


Love Letter to an Inanimate Object. No6

Dear Watch.
I love you, you gorgeous thing.
I know you are just an ordinary watch really.
I love you though.

I love your blackness and the roundness of your face. I love your chunky shape and the seconds that tick down on your face. I love that you can tell me the tides and in that way keep me connected to the sea.

We are together every day you and I, aren’t we? I don’t feel dressed until I have strapped you to my wrist. I don’t feel right on those rare days when I forget you. I’m grateful that you alarm every hour and thus remind me to be mindful.

 I hope you appreciate that I love you and in some way notice that I keep you clean and care for you.

Me xxx


Breathing Meditations 1.

Watercolour on paper. Each circle is one complete breath.

Watercolour on paper. Circle is one breath. Line is one breath.


Love Letter to an Inanimate Object. No5

To my bed.

Dear Bed,
I am so lucky to have you in my life.
You know that because I remember to tell you often.

Thank you for your warmth and comfort.
When I am with you I sometimes think about the millions who don’t have the luxury of your peace and sanctuary and I am grateful.

You are an extraordinary privilege and I will never take you for granted.

With much love and gratitude,

Me xxx


Love Letter to an Inanimate Object. No4

Dear Walking Stick,
You were born in a hedgerow in one of the most beautiful valleys in Wales. You were recognized for your wonderful straightness and curved top just right for a handle by a kind and gentle giant, who cut you and fitted you with a sturdy foot and gifted you to me.

You are made of hazel wood, light and strong and straight.

There was a time in my life when I had Shaman spirit and I saw the hidden heart of you. I carved into your handle and released the Dragon hidden there. We spent a few years together exploring a world imbued with magic.

Do you remember the sacred wood and the flock of tiny birds that always came? 
Do you remember the fairy dog that walked at our heels? 
Do you remember sitting by that bridge watching that wren build his nest? 
Do you remember the sacred grove on a cold February afternoon, the glittering flame and that shaft of sunlight? 
Do you remember the winter wasp in the water meadow and the sudden realisation of the reality of death? 
Do you remember the evening between the setting sun and the rising moon and the skylark overhead?
Do you remember the rituals and the beauty? Did you feel as at home in those wild places as I did?

I love you old stick. I’ve not used you for a while, but we’ve had some adventures eh?   We’ve walked a lot of Welsh hills and many miles of the Yorkshire flats. Thank you for helping me in the rocky places and sitting perfectly balanced in my hand, like music, on the straight roads. Thank you for lying like a rod across my shoulders, stretching out the stiffness, easing my spine.

I’m sure we will have many more adventures together old stick. When I hold you all the memories of our past pilgrimages are there. My old Shaman mind and pagan heart flutter a little stronger.

You are magical, inspiring, an old, true friend.
I love you,


You are the Universe

Wonderful meditation session today, probably helped by an equally wonderful yoga session first (I just got the breathing connection!)

I meditated on a mental image that would express the notion that we are not separate entities.
Once upon a time 'I' existed inside the egg of my mother and the sperm of my father; I existed before my parents born in the beings of my grandparents. In fact I existed all the way back to before the Big Bang, when everything was potential.

The notion that I am an 'I' is a limited concept because the I that thinks is not the only thing that I am.

I thought about a soap bubble. How it is part of the liquid, then taken out, filled with air and cast adrift. When the bubble bursts it returns to liquid. The I that is Susan is like that soap bubble.

I need to paint this.

I'm not feeling particularly well today but I did find the energy to start making new work.

These are rain paintings that I then worked over with blue paint. I'm enjoying these.

Love Letter to an Inanimate Object. No3

To all my Boots.

Oh Boots! 
Dear beloved Boots, 
I love you.

There have been quite a few of you over the years; from my those lovely green and red suede ones I had as a teenager, to the ridiculously ugly, chunky ones I’m wearing now, I love you all.

Sometimes we began our journey together with blisters, but with perseverance and time we all grew together (apart from those patent DM ones, that relationship never gelled). 
It was love at first sight with all of you though.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy you made me. Especially at the height of your being, when we fitted each other so comfortably, before you became worn down with work.
Do you remember the journeys we took? The hundreds and hundreds of miles we’ve walked together? The water we strode through, the hills and valleys we explored.
I’m sorry so much of your life took place on tarmac (I’m sorry about that for myself too. Why did we never manage to find the countryside life we expected to have?)

Dear Boots, you always made me happy. I want you to know I appreciated you every time I laced you up. Boots are the most wonderful things. You enabled me to walk about the world. You made me feel grounded and strong. It has always been a great sadness when you have grown old and worn out and had to be retired.

Know that I always wore you right to the end, I was always committed to our relationship right up until the last possible moment. Some of you were literally in holes at the end.

I wish there could be such a thing as everlasting boots, so I would never have to say goodbye.

Boots, thank you. I will continue to love you, all the ones that have been and all the ones that might yet come.

With deepest affection,

Me xxx


Love Letter to an Inanimate Object. No2

 To my old Hewlett Packard Camera.

Dear Camera,
Even though you have now passed on, I want you to know I loved you. 
(Though I am sure you felt that vibe when we were together)

Oh! All the adventures we went on together! 

Do you remember the walks we took? I was at University, you were my constant companion and together we explored the world. We looked at trees, at sky, at rain on water and water on stone. You captured every passing shaft of light, the drawings made by winter trees, you saw things I didn’t realise were there sometimes.

Your eye helped my eye and together we made some beautiful images.

I loved the heft of you, the feeling of rightness when you were in my hand. The curve of your body where your battery sat fitted perfectly into my palm. When I held you and we walked out into the world, I felt so centered, relaxed, joyful.

Dear Camera, you have passed on now. Though increasingly battered and scratched you always worked perfectly until the day your screen died and then your software glitched and that was that.

It’s been about 6 years and I still miss you. No other camera has fit me so perfectly and so no other camera has worked with me quite as you did. Maybe it was the freshness and newness of our adventure that meant we made so much lovely work together, but I do know that I’ve never quite managed such good images with anyone else.

Thank you for being in my life. I miss you.

With love,

Me xxx


Love Letter to an Inanimate Object. No1

Dear Pencils and Pens,

I love you.

(If love is feeling happiness, gratitude, unchanging affection, a desire for the wellbeing of another and a joyful little physical sensation somewhere in the region of the diaphragm when looking upon the beloved, then I do. I love you.)

You have been my companions for 50 years.
Because of you I was able to draw feelings and emotions I didn't know how to express any other way. We have told stories together and explored the world together. Our love affair began when I was such a little child and it has never gone away. I hope you are with me right until the end.

When I use you it is like dancing on paper.

You have challenged me; those days when I can't get into the flow.
You have given me so much joy; those times when I have been lost in the pleasure of the line.
You are always there, always available. You have been one of the greatest, most consistent joys of my life. Of course I love you.

Like any relationships, some of you fit me better than others; 4b and I have rarely agreed whereas black Bic pen and I have shared some wonderful times. Sharpies are valued for their enthusiasm to mark anything, even though they are rather brash and bossy. Some of you pencils have misbehaving erasers, but that's not really your fault. The aristocratic elegance of fountain pens have beguiled from time to time and I'm sure that there is an adventure waiting for me and Kuretake pens, even though we have struggled in the past.

Of course, words are insufficient to really express my love. That's why we draw together isn't it? When we draw, we can say anything and everything. When we draw our eloquence is never in question. Even if only you and I ever see the drawing. We know. We are together.

Dear pencils and pens, thank you for everything.

With much love,
Me xxx