Richard Klekociuk is a master of the coloured pencil hard-edge abstraction style of art. In his work, he provides us with a rich tapestry of beautifully balanced and exciting compositions, created with mesmerising colour, texture and form. Leading us through a tantalizing smorgasbord of nature’s wonderland we can often find ourselves exploring all kinds of exciting shapes, colours and objects that remind us of leaves, sticks and debris just peering through from beneath almost glass-like reflections. This layering-effect gives us a feeling of secrecy, wonder and discovery as we sift through the layers of illusion to discover what is hiding beneath. Many of Richard’s artworks are imbued with nature, cleverly woven into exciting and interesting patterns.
Interview with Richard Klekociuk by Cindy Wider
Q: Please tell us your preferred art name year of birth and Country of origin (where you were born and raised and where you are living now):
A: Richard Klekociuk, I was born in Hobart, Tasmania (Australia) in 1950. Currently residing in Port Macquarie NSW, Australia, but I will be re-locating back to Tasmania in January, 2019.
Q: Richard, could you tell us when you first realised that you enjoyed creating art as a child and you were supported in your decision, if so by who?
A: I would have been about 8 years old when I first took an interest in drawing and that was due to sitting on my father’s lap and watching him draw my toy trucks. The influence of my high school art teacher in grades 9 & 10 was the reason I enrolled at Art School when I left year 12. My parents supported me along the way.
Graduation as an Art Teacher
Q: What journey have you been on as an artist. For example when did you first begin to create art as an adult? Did you study at all and if so where? How was that experience?
A: I graduated from the Tasmanian School of Art in 1971 as an art teacher and began full-time employment the following year. I produced a small amount of art during the next 4 years, but it wasn’t until 1976 that I made time for my own art and joined an art group and began showing my work in galleries in Tasmania. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at art school and to this day, I appreciate all I learnt there.
Q: What is the primary motivation for why you create art? For example; Is it income or a burning passion to draw/paint?
A: I create art due to a strong self-belief that I have something to say and I must do it visually. Having said that, as I grow older, I have a desire to write; which I do in my blog My blog (ranked 12 in cp blogs worldwide.) It has a broad range of articles that may be of interest to others, and have begun an autobiography. Fortunately, I don’t need to sell my work in order to make a living, but I do enjoy seeing red dots alongside my work from time to time! I get ideas in the strangest places. It’s a matter of recognising the potential of something when you see it. For example, early last year (2017) I was sitting in a shopping centre at Coffs Harbour when I looked down and saw a magnificent pattern in the floor tiles. I just had to photograph several tiles. That moment resulted directly in 2 drawings, “Coffs Harbour Landscape” and “Summer Landscape’. Always have a notebook and pen handy, you never know when an idea may ‘appear’!
Working in Themes
Q: What goes through your mind while you draw/paint?
A: I need to be ‘in the zone’ when I’m drawing. Motivation is the key to any successful outcome. I have learnt from past experience that you shouldn’t force yourself to paint/draw if you’re not in the mood. Focus, make the time, empty yourself of any distractions and go for it and do it because you enjoy it, not because you have to.
The journey experienced in creating art is often more satisfying than the end result. I usually work in themes. I follow an idea or subject through a number of drawings, usually a substantial number as I return to most of my themes from time to time.. I’m not sure why it’s that particular number, but it may be that I have grown tired of working on a similar subject for a month or so. Whatever the reason, I end up with a number of related works. Working in themes is a good idea because it lets you explore a topic or idea more fully than just a one-off piece of art. You don’t necessarily get better as you produce more work, but you do get the chance to be selective on what you exhibit.
When I was teaching art in high schools I enjoyed working in themes with my classes. This often involved students working through an idea in a number of mediums. Some of my themes include, rocks, trees, shells, bread, ‘silence’, climate change, landscape contours, clay bricks (landscape DNA), aerial views, floor tile patterns, the Tropics and tulip fields (colour shock). My ‘Bread’ theme saw 22 drawings ( 2 exhibitions) produced, something of an obsession you may think!
From my ‘rock’ theme I have produced a number of religious/symbolist drawings, 3 of which have won major art prizes. My latest theme is a series on one particular area of land in Tasmania, Hyland’s Flat, in Tasmania’s Midlands region, mostly regarding the impact of climate change.
Q: How do you make time to include art in your life, do you have any suggestions to help others manage their creative lives?
A: I’m lucky in that I work full time on my art, usually every week-day with the odd Saturday or Sunday if I’m motivated. There’s no harm in setting aside time each week for your art, just don’t expect to create something new each week. Creativity doesn’t usually occur at a set time. The more flexible you can be with your time, the better.
Research Your Area of Interest Thoroughly
Q: Is Drawing and creating artworks your only profession or main business. If not, what else do you do for work?
A: Besides my art, I conduct workshops around the country, often in my role as an Ambassador for Caran d’Ache, Australia. On occasions I judge art awards and write articles for art magazines and other publications. I was an art curator for 3 years and an art reviewer for the Launceston Examiner for 2 years.
Q: Do you have any special unique advice or skills to share with other artists who are learning to create artworks at this very high standard that you are working at?
A: I strongly advise that artists research their particular areas of interest thoroughly. It’s surprising what sound research ‘unearths’, especially when it comes to original ideas. Greater knowledge and understanding of one’s subjects will ensure not only a higher standard of work, but a more intimate and personal interpretation in one’s art.
Winning Major Awards
Q: Richard, could you please tell us about any significant awards you have won or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life.
A: My first major art award was the ABC ‘Scene’ Prize in Hobart, 1970 for a piece of huon pine sculpture I created. It gave me a good deal of self-confidence and some much needed art supplies!
In 1998 I won the ANZ Art Prize at the Royal Hobart Show with a coloured pencil drawing (in open company). This had an enormously positive impact on my decision to pursue a career in coloured pencil art.
Since then I have been successful in numerous art awards, the most significant being the City of Burnie Art Prize in 2010 and the Northern Midlands Art Prize in 2015 and the Holy Trinity Art Prize (Launceston) on 3 occasions. In 2010 I won the Launceston Art Society Annual Acquisitive Award.
I have been a finalist in several major art prizes including the Glover Prize (2009, 2014), the Bay of Fires Prize (2015, 2017) and the Palm Art Award (2016, 2017 Germany).
I’ve had articles and features published in numerous magazines and books both in Australia and overseas as well as newspapers.
2008 – Listed in Who’s Who, Tasmania.
2015 – Published my first adult colouring book.
2014 – Awarded Master Pencil Status by the Canadian Pencil Society
2017 – Appointed as an Ambassador for Caran d’Ache Australia.
2018 – Awarded Master Status by the Coloured Pencil Community of Australasia.
“The Shock of the View”, Table Cape Gallery (Tasmania) 2015, has been my most significant exhibition to date.
Q: What major and significant goals and influences do you have for your art if any? Tell us who or what inspires you to be the best you can be as an artist.
A: My major goals are to win a major Australian art prize in open company and to complete my autobiography. My strong belief in having coloured pencils recognised as a genuine art medium has driven me for the past 30 years and as I get older, I’m more determined than ever to raise the status of this often-maligned medium. I keep challenging myself to be better, be unique and be different. I look for un-trodden pathways as I’m not afraid of a challenge.
Q: Where do you see your art going into the future, do you have any goals at all for your long term development?
A: I already have a represented gallery in Tasmania (Gallery Pejean, Launceston), but I’m looking for a gallery to represent me on the Australian mainland. Publish my second adult colouring book.
To see more from Richard Klekociuk, check out his work at the links below:
Other: Instagram: artkleko
Redbubble site: http://artkleko.redbubble.com