Hi and welcome back to another week on the Chrissie Murphy Designs blog. Can you believe it, it’s Artist Interview time again! This month I’m thrilled to be bringing you an interview with Prize winning coloured pencil artist, Richard Klekociuk. Richard brings a wealth of knowledge and years of experience to this interview, so strap yourself in and join me for an Artist Interview with Richard Klekociuk.
Welcome Richard!!! I’m still pinching myself, I can’t believe you’re here doing an Interview with little old me! I’m quite the fan of your work, so let’s get into it, I can’t wait to learn from you…. Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into this style of work?
I graduated from the Tasmanian School of Art in 1971 and until 2005, I taught Art in secondary and college level. Since taking early retirement I have directed my energies into my own artwork and I’ve enjoyed teaching adult workshops, as well as writing reviews, curating and judging a number of art awards. I exhibited my first painting in 1976 and held my first major exhibition in 1982.
Where are you located and what sorts of things in your area inspire your art?
I’m currently living in Port Macquarie where my wife, Val and I have been for the past 2 years following a year in Cairns. We are moving back to our home in Launceston, Tasmania, early next year.
The coastline with its array of beaches is the dominant landscape here. One of my recurring themes focuses on ‘mark making in the landscape’ and in this instance I’ve been studying the life cycle of the scribbly gum moth at Port Macquarie and further north at Coffs Harbour. Both locations have an excellent stand of eucalypts that have provided me with much inspiration.
You have developed a unique style to your work, what would you say is your favourite piece?
My style varies depending the theme hence I have a number of ‘favourites’, rather than one. For example:
Still Life: “Silence at the Table.” The demanding lives of shearers and farmers in Tasmania between the two world wars.
Neglected Landscapes: “Frankland Beaches Calligraphy.” The forces of Nature has its own language.
On and Below the Surface: “Tropical Leaves.” The colours of some objects floating in the Tropics are amazing.
Colour Shock: “Colour Fields 5.” The colours on Tasmania’s Table Cape at tulip harvest time are stunning!
Pattern and Shape: “Coastal Rocks.” Tasmania has some fascinating rocks!
Landscape Cleansing: “Tulip Farm, Table Cape.” Seeing the landscape in its purest form.
What are your favourite and least favourite tools for creating?
Coloured pencils are by far my favourite medium to work in and Canson pastel board is my main support (surface). I rarely work on white. I’m also keen on digital art both drawing and painting along with ‘serious’ photography.
In my early years I went through phases working in oils, soft pastels, oil pastels, pastel pencils, acrylics and gouache.
I’m not a great fan of watercolours because they aren’t opaque enough for my style of work.
What has been your greatest triumph as an artist/designer?
Winning the (then) $10,000 City of Burnie Art Prize (2010) with a coloured pencil drawing (“Silence at the Table”) in open company is still my top achievement.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learnt as an artist/designer?
Let your heart lead you in your artwork. Anyone can copy, but there is only one ‘you’. Develop your own unique way of seeing and never give up no matter how hard it may be at times.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’ve begun what potentially is a massive project centered on a particular part of Tasmania that requires a good deal of research and planning along with a number of completed drawings before I return to Tasmania where I shall take this project to the next level in the form of an exhibition and (hopefully) a book.
And lastly, tell us where we can find you…
Facebook: Richard Klekociuk
And that’s a wrap on my Artist Interview with Richard Klekociuk
Wow! Don’t you just feel inspired, like you can do anything! I’m so encouraged when I hear of artists biting off big lengthy chunks of work. Why? Because it’s not something I do! Generally speaking, my turnaround time for work is pretty quick. That has its positives and negatives, but I truly believe that dedicating significant time to a project always yields fantastic results. Just look at the work of Michaelangelo in the Sistine chapel! I have no doubt that Richard’s Tasmania project will be incredible, so hit one of those links above and go and give him a follow.
You’ve probably guessed what I’m going to focus on from this month’s Artist Interview… yep, it’s this… Develop your own unique way of seeing and never give up no matter how hard it may be at times. It’s the “develop” bit that stands out for me. How do you develop your own unique way of seeing?
Well, I don’t have all the answers to this. I think it’s something I’m still learning, but here’s what I do know. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in seeing things as other artists see things. All of us have artists we admire. I believe it’s an incredibly healthy thing to be inspired by other artists and to be challenged by them. They play an integral part in helping you to grow as an artist. Remember my post from last week that spoke about building a catalogue of reference material? Well, a significant portion of the reference material you have will be by other artists.
The reference material helps to influence you, but it’s absolutely vital that you ensure it doesn’t consume you.
It’s very easy to get caught up in creating work that mimics the artists you admire, and you know what? In some ways it’s very natural. You love what you see, so naturally, you want to recreate it, you begin to see things how they see things. At the beginning of your growth this can be good for you, as you will probably learn good artistic principles, you’ll begin to understand colour theory, perspective, contrast and depth. All awesome things to learn as a beginner. But, there is a danger in remaining here too long.
The danger is you begin to lose your capacity to see uniquely. Human beings are great adapters. We adapt to change like you wouldn’t believe! And our minds adapt very easily to seeing things how others see. It’s a fight at the best of times to retain our own unique perspective on things. Just think about the volume of advertising you’re being bombarded with 24/7 and your minds desire to think for itself. It’s in a fight! Are your Macleans showing? Who’s helping you buy better? And who’s dad picks the fruit that goes to Cottee’s to make the cordial?
It’s critical you pay attention to your progress
Retaining your own unique perspective on things is difficult, so when it comes to your art, its critical that you take control of your progress. You need to grow from being fed by others to feeding yourself. You know, all of us begin life as infants being fed milk by others. But after many years we learn to cook for ourselves, we learn how to mix ingredients together to make a tasty meal. We develop our own unique way of seeing. It’s the same with our art.
We begin by consuming lots of reference material by others, we mimic what they’re doing and we rely on them to guide us, lead us and develop our artistic capabilities. But after time, we should be moving into doing more work on our own, developing our own unique way of seeing, creating our own reference material. Then, the reference material becomes exactly that, “reference material“. If we don’t aim for these things, we will get caught in seeing things how others see things, and risk losing our unique perspective permanently.
And don’t give up, no matter how hard it gets
Lastly, Richard encourages us to not give up on developing our own unique way of seeing. Don’t give up girlfriend! Being an artist is a lifelong journey. Richard has been at it 43 years (at least) and I’ve been at it 6. I still struggle to find my own unique way of seeing, but I’m persistent, I will not give up and I know I’ll get there. And you know what? So will you.
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Until next time, listen to your heart and sharpen your coloured pencils. A masterpiece awaits!
Bless you my friend