ALONG THE PIONEER AVENUE (Tasmania, Australia)


Like many Tasmanians and tourists alike, I’m fascinated with a group of 8 Roman Cypress trees that can be seen on a small plateau (Hyland’s Flat), just south of Conara in Tasmania’s Midlands. Against the surrounding landscape they appear rather alien and the fact that they have survived for 60 years is in itself something to celebrate. The trees were planted in the Spring of 1939, part of an ambitious project that resulted in the growing from seed and planting (in groups, not continuous) of over 6,000 trees (almost 100 varieties from around the world were initially chosen) along the Midlands Highway between Hobart and Launceston as a memorial to the state’s pioneers. Only the strongest trees survived the climatic conditions, but many can still be seen along the highway today.

Hyland’s Flat is a stark example of the extremes of landscapes in the island state. More often than not, it’s devoid of grass, but somehow weeds survive and even thrive at certain times of the year. Then there are the 8 Roman Cypress trees that have defied everything Nature can throw at them for 60 years. Only one tree has been (partly) damaged, but it like the others, still remains strong.

It would be true to say that the stand of trees so exquisitely planted, caught my eye first, but it was the landscape that ‘lured’ me into a more thorough investigation. Several trips to the location followed by a walk (with permission) on the land itself, realized a substantial amount of photos and a greater understanding of what I’d been looking at from a passing car for near on 60 years.

I have begun a series of coloured pencil drawings that will not only feature the trees from a broad range of angles, but will look at the surrounding landscape minus any detail that impairs on the viewing of a ‘pure’ landscape. I call this ‘landscape cleansing’ and it’s been part of my landscape approach for about 12 years. Come to think of it, it’s another reason why I love ‘those trees’ with their manicured look. My first series has a similar palette, but that will change in due course. Next year I will spend time on location at different times of the day and in different seasons to note the change of light and colours of the landscape. I aim to draw more trees from other stands along the highway in coming years.

For my first series I have adopted a horizontal ‘panorama-style’ composition where the trees dominate the composition. Some drawings are devoid of surrounding detail while others reveal the surrounding mountains. It’s late Summer and it’s dry, very dry, but still the trees remain defiantly green and strong. I also aim to produce a series of ‘vertical’ panorama-style drawings that will present me with challenges in structuring the composition as my subject is very ‘horizontal’. Very few will feature the entire group of 8 trees, the emphasis being a ‘slice-like-look’ at certain aspects of the landscape in question. The good thing about thematic work is that it can ‘take-off’ in a variety of directions. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can produce.

Richard

I am extremely grateful to Tasmanian Historian, Dr. Marian Walker from the University of Tasmania for her assistance and especially for her publication, ‘The Road to Eden: the Pioneer Avenue between Launceston and Hobart.’

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TROPICAL FLOW


“Tropical Flow”

60 x 80 cms

Luminance, Prismalo & Museum Aquarelle pencils on Canson Pastel Board.

Own reference.

Despite having lived in Cairns for 2 extended periods, having to battle the high humidity in the Wet season was bad enough, but add a good dose of heat and you have can experience some uncomfortable moments. ‘’Air conditioning is the answer!’’ I hear you cry and yes, you are correct, provided you are inside a cool building but what if you’re outside in a rainforest? Even in a well-canopied rain forest there’s little respite from the heat. Mossman Gorge is both one of my favourite forests but the most physically challenging as it’s hot, wet and sticky but oh, the wonderful drawing subjects that exist there make each visit worthwhile!

The Flecker Botanic Gardens is one of my go-to places that I visit each time I return to Cairns. It’s simply wonderful and contains so much ‘grist for my creative mill.’ The plants, flowers (especially the orchids), trees and the variety of leaves are amazing!

I wanted to end the year with a large drawing that tells of my love for this place but at the same time the impact that colour in the Tropics has on me. It’s not all bright and intense colour, there is a lot of decay on the forest floor but on this occasion I wanted to focus on something that was cheerful and uplifting.

I chose a part of a small creek that (usually) flows in the gardens and took numerous photos during a visit there last year. I did some ‘playing’ on my computer and came up with a stylised composition that featured whole and parts of leaves and other small pieces of vegetation that were moving past on, or just below the surface. I chose a ‘hot’ palette and for contrast I used Prussian Blue in the background; flickers of light and sky can be seen as well. If you look long enough at this drawing you will see traces of realism, hence the semi-abstract label. This isn’t an attempt to reproduce what I saw, it’s more to do with how I feel about the subject and its environment.

Being quite abstract, this drawing will not go down well with the majority of CP artists. Realism is by far the most important feature of coloured pencil art subjects and I believe to a certain extent is its Achilles Heel. There is much potential for the medium to feature in other directions, not just photo-realism. I suspect that the majority of positive responses will be about the colours in this drawing, not the composition or shapes but I don’t mind. If an art piece gleans no response, good or bad, it has failed to do its job! All my abstracts are based on observations of Nature. I want each drawing to make ‘visual sense’, so I work hard to make sure I create drawings that have a balanced composition something I believe is essential to every artwork.

If you’ve been watching the progress of this drawing on Facebook or Instagram you would have noticed that I used a grid to draw in the required detail. I use a large grid, dividing my pastel board into 12 equal areas. I don’t trace, in fact I don’t approve of the practice unless it’s of one of your own drawings. Tracing won’t teach you how to draw, it teaches copying.  I draw what I choose to see, not what I have to. By using a large grid I can make changes as I go and there are times when I get a different result than I expected. I like the freedom that the ‘unknown’ brings when drawing this way. I always want a drawing that reflects my inner thoughts, not a replication of a photo. I do though accept that we all work differently for a variety of reasons.

Vive La Difference!

An earlier example:                          “A Tropical Moment.”

I only sold one abstract drawing this year, which only goes to prove that the art market doesn’t favour coloured pencil abstracts. Despite this I’m determined to continue this direction in my work along with my landscape work. Who knows, maybe I’ll attract the attention of some keen buyers next year?

Another example:                           “Floating in Silence.”

I have a second drawing planned and this will feature some semi-submerged leaves, partly covered by rippling water. These drawings take me about a week to complete but I’ll no doubt slow down for the festive season.

Whether you’re a subscriber or a casual reader of this blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you for your support throughout 2018 and wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Richard

 

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THE REAL ‘YOU’.


What’s your favourite art subject/s? Why? Have you ever stopped to evaluate what you like to draw and paint? Are you a person who loves to work outdoors (plein-air) or do you confine yourself to a studio or a similar workspace?

“Tasmanian Icon”.

A series of 4 panorama-shaped coloured pencil drawings of conifers planted in the 1930s at Hyland’s Flat in the central Midlands region of Tasmania.

Each drawing measures 20 x 58 cms.

I have been doing some reflecting lately on the type of work I do, in particular, what I really like doing and what is ‘commercially viable’, while pondering on how to obtain ‘a balance’. The work I really enjoy creating isn’t popular with those who buy art. Lots of people like my work, but few ever want to live with it. I haven’t sold much this year probably because I’ve enjoyed a ‘personal’ journey too much, discovering a bit more about who I am. Art has to be enjoyed by both the creator and the viewer. At least I’ve got one part right!

My Achilles heel is no doubt the medium I work in. Coloured pencil doesn’t enjoy a big wrap in the art world despite huge gains in archival quality in the past 2 decades. I fear it’s also perceived as rather a conservative medium. I wish art curators would be ‘brave’ and promote CP art more in their galleries.

Moving away from Tasmania for a ‘working holiday’ hasn’t been the economic success that I had hoped for art-wise but it has certainly opened my eyes to understanding what art means to me and what subjects interest me.

In just over 12 months my wife Val and I will head back to Tasmania and I’ll re-acquaint myself with my studio. Things won’t be the same (nor should they after nearly 4 years away) when we return and I expect that my art will reflect that.

Having had the opportunity to explore the Australian mainland has introduced me to a variety of landscapes and weather conditions but behind all these experiences I have seen, are the things I always look for; reflected light and shadow, pattern, decay, weathering, transparent surfaces, strong colour, mood and design, all seen in ever-decreasing detail, a ‘cleansed view’ that tries to say a lot with as little information as possible (when applicable). That’s who I am, that’s what interests me.

Despite all that I’ve seen and explored lately, three subjects stand out and continue to give me great motivation and satisfaction: 1. The Flecker Botanical Gardens in Cairns, where I immerse myself in the feast of subject matter that’s available. 2. The Midlands region of Tasmania, because of its (at times) harsh landscape and 3. The tree markings of the Scribbly Gum moth in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. All three subjects are influenced by my ‘abstract’, ‘colour’ and ‘simplification’ interests. Out of the three, my tropical semi-abstract drawings would rate as my best work, but sadly, only one has been sold. I have a substantial collection of examples and hope that one day I’ll exhibit them.

“Tropical Leaves.” 60 x 80 cms.


A few days ago one of my tropical drawings was featured on Redbubble. I was very pleased but a little taken back as I’d posted the image about 12 months ago. Still, it’s nice to have one of my favourite drawings acknowledged.

“9 Journeys.” (Scribbly Gum moth) 80 x 60 cms.

It’s not what you see in your art that is important, but it’s how you see it. Our personality defines our art.

Richard

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GREEN GOLD


I recently travelled from Launceston to Hobart during an 8-day stay in Tasmania, Australia’s island state. On this occasion I was a passenger and I used the opportunity to take about 90 photos with my iPhone as we passed by some of the parts of the Midlands area that I have been drawing for over a decade. Many people think that because Tasmania has a cool, temperate climate it’s always cold and wet. Well it’s not. Rain often fails to fall where it’s needed and drought is some parts of the state isn’t uncommon. Irrigation has helped to some extent, but the impact of climate change is evident.

The colour of the Midlands’ landscape is more often than not, that of straw, due to an insufficient yearly rainfall. I call this type of landscape and its people ‘stoic’. This is at times, tough farming in a landscape that so often has a dry, thirsty look about it. For visitors to Tasmania it must be a strange sight-seeing such large areas of dry land between Launceston (north) and Hobart (south). Irrigation has helped certain parts, but a glance towards most of the hillsides paints a very different picture. Imagine my reaction when all I saw was GREEN. Everywhere I looked I saw more shades of green than one would ever see in an art shop! It was a magnificent sight, more so for the resident farmers than me I must admit, but nevertheless, it was a sight that sparked my imagination. The Midlands rarely receives decent amounts of rain, but when it does the landscape responds almost immediately with new growth and new hope for those who make their living from the land.

Upon my return to Port Macquarie I reviewed all the photos that I had taken and I’ve set about working on a ‘Green Midlands Landscape Series’ over the coming year. I was quite surprised at the amount of green shades I collected from my pencil stocks. I won’t mix greens, as I prefer clean, even colour in my hard-edged style of work.

I’m pleased with my first 2 drawings and I’ll be interested to see how many come from this series. One drawing that I intend creating will be a 50/50 split of a scene one side wet the other dry. I rarely draw a landscape once, preferring to (physically) visit it a number of times to note any changes and any fresh ideas that may arise. On this occasion it was the extreme change of colour that has promoted a new, personal response. Have you ‘re-visited’ subjects that you’ve drawn in the past? I recommend you try this approach if you haven’t done so already.

Our landscape is constantly changing and as artists, so should our response be to it.

To illustrate the contrast in the Midlands landscape I have included some work from  much ‘drier’ times. Note the occasional examples of irrigation.

Richard

 

 

 

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THE CHANGE IS MADE


Recent Landscapes. (each 30 x 40 cms)

When I was a student at Art School in Tasmania (last century) I was strongly drawn to simplified, hard-edged abstract art, particularly in painting. Maybe I ‘peaked’ too soon, as 10 years later I was deep into landscape realism, a more ‘commercial’ form of art that saw red dots appear from time to time.

Nothing has changed in that the commercial worth of abstraction is close to nil in this country, unless you show in a prestigious gallery that thrives on highly intellectual artists’ statements and artwork that leaves many patrons either in awe or aghast. It’s truly a fickle market where art (I consider) that varies from brilliant to total rubbish can be lauded to the hilt, while other artists slowly starve. Where has the honesty and sincerity in art gone? Since when does an artist’s statement carry more weight than the artwork itself?

Recent Landscapes. (each 30 x 40 cms)

I’m in the third year of working on the Australian mainland after leaving my home state of Tasmania in 2016. I have produced a body of work using coloured pencils that I consider the best collection of ‘contemporary’ drawings that I have ever done. Nobody wants to buy any of them. Is my work crap or do people hate anything in coloured pencil, considering it to be an inferior art medium? I have been a finalist in a couple of national art awards lately and a judges’ commendation, but red dots have all but eluded me. I now have a second website: http://www.richardklekociuk.com  but I’ve yet to sell any of the work listed.

My last show (February) in my represented gallery in Tasmania (Gallery Pejean) was a flop with only 2 being sold. I can’t go on producing art that will spend the rest of its life in a folder. This chapter has now closed.

After a good deal of thought that included either retiring from art altogether and taking up photography, ceasing coloured pencil drawing and a return to painting, or renew my love for sculpture, draw exclusively in pen (something I really enjoy, but have yet to ‘test’ commercially) or simply letting go of almost 50 years of art and ‘retiring’, I decided to continue with coloured pencils while I was still residing in New South Wales ( my wife and I intend to return to Tasmania in Jan 2020). This was not an easy decision to make and even though I’ve made my choice, it’s not ‘locked in’.Some of my contemporary drawings. (each approx 60 x 80 cms)

There comes a time when an artist needs to ask themselves ‘why am I doing art?’ Is it for pleasure?, for money?, something to do?, relaxation? Whatever the reason, one thing is glaringly obvious; how do you pay for your art materials? I simply can’t go on funding my obsession for art without some form of financial return; simple, but true for so many artists. The answer?

‘Scribbly Gum’ theme. (80 x 60, 40 x 60 & 60 x 80 cms)

I have decided to return to the simplified, hard-edged landscapes that I was producing from 2014 – 2016. Not only did I enjoy this style of drawing, but I enjoyed an excellent return sales-wise. Maybe this is where I need to be.

Examples of my pen drawings. (each A4 in size)

I have 2 major exhibitions next year at Port Macquarie and (hopefully) 2 group shows at Gallery Pejean in Launceston. I simply can’t afford to keep funding exhibitions that don’t reward me financially in some way. Time will tell whether this change in direction has been the right one to make.

Some may consider that I have ‘sold my soul’, but I’m being realistic. One can be constantly praised for their art, but praise has never and will never pay for art materials.

Richard

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ADULT COLOURING BOOK 2.


Following the success of my first adult colouring book I decided to produce a second, this time an online version, but one that is different in that you get to choose 18 drawings from a collection of 40. The drawings come with a folder and 2 practice sheets of paper. From time to time I intend to add more drawings to the collection.

Visit You Add Colour on Facebook or email me at artkleko@gmail.com for more information.

It wasn’t that long ago that Adult Colouring books were ‘trendy’ worldwide. Their popularity (as predicted) has waned, but one can still see many copies in stores here in Australia and I suspect in other countries. Many of the books (not all) are cheap in price and cheap in production. As with my first book I wanted something of quality and challenging to colour, not obvious/easy as with so many of the books available.

One of the consistent comments I received was the quality of the paper that I use for my publications. My drawings are only printed on one side and the acid free paper I use looks great when framed.


Are you still interested in adult colouring? If so, I invite you the check out my Facebook page or email me.

Richard

 

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SINISTER BEAUTY


“Landscape Warming Deconstructed”

60 x 80 cms

Luminance, Supracolor & Museum Aquarelle pencils on Canson pastel board.

Own reference & imagination.

‘The visual and performing arts aren’t just about what you see, it’s also about your emotional response to an image, a performance or a sound. What we are confronted with can often be layered with meanings and innuendos. We can interpret something in a completely different way than its original intention. Examples of visual art are guilty on all counts. Art is an illusion, a journey into one’s imagination that often triggers memories, both good and bad. Art is a wonderful escape from the harsh realities of the world we live in. It’s also a reminder of who we are, where we live and what’s happening around us.

I’m interested in the environment, particularly the changes that have been happening lately at an all-too-increasing rate. Here in Australia, particularly where I live, it’s getting hotter and drier. Almost all of the state of New South Wales is in drought. The landscape is suffering and the people (particularly the farmers and their families) are also suffering. When will this drought end? Why is it occurring? I don’t have the answer, but I’m convinced that climate change has a lot to do with it.

For several years I have been working on the impact of climate change as one of the themes in my artwork. You can see my latest work on my newly developed second website: www.richardklekociuk.com

My featured work, “Landscape Warming Deconstructed”, takes a very different look at our sunbaked landscape. This drawing is both a puzzle, a variation on jigsaws, in this case it can be arranged a several ways. On this occasion it’s arranged in such a way as to give a reverse impact to the agony of a suffering landscape. I’ve taken an image that in its original form would be stark, barren and ‘dry’ and made it look ‘more engaging’. This drawing is a deliberate attempt to hide the pain of a scorched landscape. The colour palette is ‘warm’, but at the same time easy on the eye. I want people to enjoy the drawing then reflect on the impact that our climate is having on our landscape. This will be very pertinent to people living in Australia. Are we too complacent about the impact of climate change? Our politicians are struggling to provide us with any real answers and it’s time they seriously addressed this issue.

I have just finished the plan for my next drawing, “New South Wales Dry”. This will have a very different colour palette and will resonate with those living in Western New South Wales. It’s time to show what’s really happening out there!

It’s time we had some rain!

Richard

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