Artist Richard Klekociuk

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Many of us have used coloured pencils – especially as children – and they’ve certainly had somewhat of a revival in recent years, with the release of many new colouring books for adults. Local artist Richard Klekociuk introduces us to coloured pencils in a whole new way – showing just what is possible when you combine quality pencils with skill, an eye for detail, patience and creative flair. Richard’s pencil work is beautiful, and he’s received worldwide recognition for his work. 

Hi Richard. You lived in Tasmania, I believe, before you relocated to Port Macquarie. What brought you to the Mid North Coast to live? 

My wife, Val and I left Tasmania in 2016 to live in Cairns, but we felt after almost a year there that it wasn’t going to be a long-term proposition, so we decided to move “half way”, to Port Macquarie, early last year – and we‘re glad we did!

Your preferred medium to work with is coloured pencils. Why is this? 

I started working with coloured pencils in 1988 after 12 years of painting (oils, followed by acrylics) followed by pastel drawing; the latter included pastel pencils – great to draw with, but messy at times. 

Coloured pencils were my next choice, and I’m so glad I made the switch! I love their “immediacy”, portability, and lack of mess and their range of colour choices. Oddly enough, I graduated from Art School as a sculptor and painter!

What does your role as an ambassador for Caran d’Ache in Australia involve? 

I’m one of three ambassadors in Australia, and I promote their products through my own work and on social media, in demonstrations (such as last year’s ArtWalk), exhibitions and in specific workshops from Hobart to Mareeba and in between. 

My role is voluntary, but I’m happy to do it because I believe in the quality of their products. The pencils are simply divine to work with – lightfast, superb quality and the colours are sensational! They are highly versatile and can be used on paper, mount board, wood panels and even fabric.

Considering how detailed your work is, how often do you find you need to replace sets of pencils? 

I usually update my pencil arsenal every two months, not in sets, but with individual colours. I have 38 sets of pencils, but I usually work with no more than six sets at a time, four of them being different sets of Caran d’Ache pencils. The warmer the weather, the more pencils I need to replace, but that’s a small price to pay for their performance!

Typically, how long would it take you to complete most pieces of work? 

The rate of production depends on the size and complexity of each subject. I like to finish at least one A2 size drawing each week, up to two if they are A3 size or less. 

Larger work can take up to a month to complete (some have taken three months). I often have two or more drawings underway at the same time (usually part of a series) as it gives me greater variety in my daily workload and helps with my concentration. 

My drawings vary in size from 20 x 27 cm to 80 x 120 cm. I draw on coloured Canson pastel board and pastel paper. I rarely use a white surface, because it often gives an “illustration look”; whereas, coloured surfaces give my work a “painterly” finish, texture, depth and a richness in colour.

What’s your artistic process … where does the inspiration come from to commence a new piece of work, and do you work from photographs or en plein air? 

The Australian landscape is my main inspiration, through realism, semi-abstraction or abstract interpretations. I’m currently working in two themes: simplified landscapes and “neglected” landscapes (the ground we walk on, but rarely examine closely).

I spend a lot of time on research for each of my drawings through visiting each location, sketches, notes and taking lots of photos. I like revisiting certain locations to see and record what changes have occurred.

I’m very interested in the impact climate change is having on the landscape, weathering, decay, pattern, mark making (an example being the tree markings of the Scribbly Gum Moth at Port Macquarie), shape and colour. 

I left Art School (Tasmania) as a hard-edged painter, and this is still evident in a good deal of my current work.

You’ve received some significant recognition for your work, including being a finalist in the Glover Prize twice. What artistic achievement are you most proud of? 

Winning the City of Burnie Art Prize in 2010 with Silence at the Table has been my most satisfying achievement to date, as it was a coloured pencil drawing in open company in a major art award. 

I have been fortunate to win over 50 awards in Australia and overseas with my drawings since 1998, a good many against other art mediums. 

Being a Glover Finalist and three times in the Bay of Fires Art Prize have been memorable moments for me, as they have reinforced my faith in my chosen medium. 

Having my work recognised in Australia and overseas through awards and published in a number of books and magazines continues to keep me energised. 

I have two Master Status Awards for coloured pencils, one from Canada, the other, Australia, and this recognition from my peers is very special and highly treasured.

What upcoming projects/exhibitions/workshops do you have planned for 2019?

I’m exhibiting at the Long Point Vineyard, Lake Cathie, in March and April, plus I’m having an exhibition at the Sunset Framing Gallery in Port Macquarie in September. 

I will be holding workshops next year, but the only one confirmed at this stage is for five days at Toowoomba in early July.

Where can we see more examples of your work, or find out more about you? 

You can see examples of my work at:

Final say …

My blog, www.artkleko.wordpress.com is ranked 12 in the world’s top 25 coloured pencil blogs. Subscription is free and can be found on my blog’s homepage.

If anyone is interested in a coloured pencil workshop, then please email me at artkleko@gmail.com

I have published two adult colouring books, and they can be found on Facebook at You Add Colour, or you can email me for details.

Thanks Richard.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

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