Artist: Susan Klinger

Painter Susan Klinger presents her stunning portfolio of work, and talks about her process and inspiration.


"Island Reflection, Guana Cay" pastel, 18" x 14" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Island Reflection, Guana Cay” pastel, 18″ x 14″

ABI:  How did your work evolve from using watercolor to pastel?

SK:  While working on my graduate degree, I took a plein air painting class. We were transported each day to an Amish farm to paint. It was an extremely hot summer. I took along all my watercolor supplies, lugging them onto the farm each day. After a week of painting, I was frustrated and disappointed in my work.


"Coconut Palm II" pastel, 24" x 16" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Coconut Palm II” pastel, 24″ x 16″


The intense heat and humidity caused my watercolors to behave quite differently than they did in my home studio. I wasn’t happy with my results. We had been required to purchase pastels for the class, so for the second week I decided to try them. After just one painting, I was hooked.


"Water’s Rush" pastel, 8" x 12" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Water’s Rush” pastel, 8″ x 12″


Pastel was far less cumbersome to handle on location and I found myself being bolder in my use of color and in my application of the pastel to the surface. I was excited by my results. At some point, I might try a pastel over a watercolor underpainting.


"Marsh Reflection" pastel, 12" x 9" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Marsh Reflection” pastel, 12″ x 9″


ABI:  What is your current direction and focus?

SK:  I am currently focusing on a series of paintings that have the sky as the focal point, with an emphasis on sunset and sunrise. I recently challenged myself to complete one small sky study each day for a total of 24 studies over a one-month period.


"Suburban Sunrise" pastel, 9" x 12" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Suburban Sunrise” pastel, 9″ x 12″


I consider myself a slow painter, so the idea of working within such a tight deadline was, in itself, a challenge. But, I also wanted to see what I could learn by devoting a concentrated effort to a single subject. I thought I might run out of ideas, but it was exactly the opposite. Mother Nature continues to provide fresh inspiration every day!


"Sunset at Green Lane" pastel, 8" x 12" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Sunset at Green Lane” pastel, 8″ x 12″


The studies were a success and I learned a great deal, so my current focus is a concentrated emphasis on paintings that feature the sky as the focal point. I also enjoy painting reflections, in glass or water, so I see the sky series developing further into pieces that feature the sky, not directly, but as it is reflected in a body of water.


"Wintry Shadows" pastel, 18" x 12" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Wintry Shadows” pastel, 18″ x 12″


ABI:  Describe your technique and how you create a painting from concept through completion.

SK:  My work typically begins with images that grabbed my attention going through daily life. Many times, I carry my camera, but cell phones have made capturing that unexpected scene much easier. As with my sky studies, I sometimes go on photographic field trips, in search of a specific subject.


Painting progression by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

The painting “Lyrical Cascade” from original photo, through progression to the finished work, pastel, 14″ x 21″


Once I have selected a photo or group of photos from which to work, I will create a notan sketch. A notan is a sketch that breaks down the scene into just two values, black & white. This becomes the underlying value pattern for the painting. It is at the notan stage that I can manipulate the dark and light shapes to create a more pleasing or dynamic value pattern that will carry through to the completed work.


"Fresh Citrus" in process: Notan and finished Pastel, 16" x 12" by Susan Klinger. See her artist profile at

“Fresh Citrus” in process: Notan and finished Pastel, 16″ x 12″


I almost always work on a toned or colored surface, preferring a sanded pastel paper. When not toning an overall color, I may do an underpainting in pastel to which I apply odorless mineral spirits with a brush to create a loose impressionistic base. I apply the layers of pastel by building the scene gradually, at first with broad applications of color. Later in the process, my marks become more deliberate and controlled.


Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Posterous
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter