Veteran’s artwork provides seascape escape


Rhapsody in Blues painting (above) is a view overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca from her apartment in downtown Victoria. Photo: Susan Kruzel and Peter Mallett Lookout Staff.

Peter Mallet, 
Staff Writer

After recently launching her Pacific Seascapes exhibit at Gallery Splash in Esquimalt, painter Sergeant (ret’d) Susan Kruzel admits she is swimming in her art, literally.

As patrons at a nearby coffee shop exit into the lobby, they appear drawn to her paintings. As an artist, Kruzel takes extreme gratification in this.

“I hope that if one person sees my art, it will at least bring a little bit of beauty, tranquility and relief from the everyday grind,” she said.

This is the first time a large-scale art gallery has dedicated an entire exhibit to her paintings. Her artwork has previously appeared in multiple art-friendly coffee shops across the city since 2018, an exhibit at the Victoria International Airport in 2019, the Saanich Library, the Coast Collective Art Centre in 2020, and most recently at the Art Faire Urban Arts Tour in June 2022.

Kruzel says she wanted the viewer to be transported with her painting, feel one with nature and forget about their problems and the busy city life.

She draws inspiration from photographs and walks along the seaside at the first light of day, a moment which she describes as truly magical.

Since growing up in Hungary, Kruzel had always been drawn to the water but lacked the swimming skills to immerse herself in it.

“I struggled in my personal journey of learning how to swim but I have always been drawn to water, if not mesmerized by it,” she said.

Kruzel served 28 years in financial for the Canadian Armed Forces. She took photography courses in her spare time during her military service.

Her postings took her across the country, but she ended her career in Esquimalt where she worked in the Base Orderly Room (BOR) in claims and as a cashier. She says she delighted in her time and chance to serve in Royal Canadian Navy vessels as they traversed the high seas including a deployment as a Senior Pay Writer aboard HMCS Vancouver in 2011 for Operation Mobile.

Following her medical release in 2016, she spent three years developing her art skills at the Victoria College of Art.

Now, Kruzel creates all types of art in her Victoria home, including landscape portraits, still life, linocut, textiles and photography. Painting oil on canvas and capturing the supernatural coastlines in her self-described “romantic, old-world style” is her favorite thing to do.

“Art has given me a renewed perspective on life and has helped me push aside the physical and mental pain and share the beauty I see in the world,” she said.

She firmly believes her paintings will provide a sense of relief and calm.

Rhapsody in Blues is her vision of a sunrise over the Strait of Juan De Fuca. She drew from a wide range of colours such as titanium white, lemon yellow, cadmium orange, perm rose, vermillion hue, primary red, alizarin crimson and Prussian blue.

“The blues and cardinal red and golden light of the rising sun below the hills captured and stirred my creative senses,” she said. “I intended it to be ‘outer worldly’; one can turn it upside down and it can become another painting.”

She also mastered the art of swimming. She recalls thinking she was a good enough swimmer when arriving for basic training at Cornwallis, but quickly realized she did not even have the basic skills to survive in the water.

“I learned to swim during my posting in Chilliwack as I went to the pool every day for one year and I now consider myself a good swimmer and artist too.”

The exhibit concludes Feb 6. The gallery opened in 2021 and is located inside the lobby of Esquimalt Town Square. It features many of Kruzel’s favorite landscape paintings that capture the beauty of the sea and Pacific Coast.

Ten per cent of proceeds of art sales from the exhibit will go to Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) support program, Soldier On.

Follow Susan Kruzel on social media: Facebook: SusanKruzelArtist; Instagram: @Susankruzelartist


Susan Kruzel shows off some of her artwork on display in her Pacific Seascapes exhibit at the Gallery Splash located in the main entrance of the Esquimalt Town Square. Photo: Peter Mallett Lookout Staff

Filed Under: Top Stories


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.