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:  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.


About artkleko

artist, art curator, art teacher, art judge, art critic
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12 Responses to THE CHANGE IS MADE

  1. Eyballs says:

    We do what we have to do to be able to keep creating. Good luck with your exhibition. I still use techniques I learned at your course, so keep passing on your knowledge as well.

  2. ridgecookearts says:

    I find these thoughts so interesting Richard as just of late I’ve noticed that some artists work is given so much praise and recognition yet there are other works which I feel are of greater quality which go past unnoticed because the artist is not in your face daily convincing you they are of great substance. All art is individual and has it place and it’s created for so many different reasons. I’m constantly asking myself, do I focus on doing commissions to make the bucks or do I focus on my own work and try hard to convince everyone I’m a fantastic artist and sell my own prints. Then I read your blog and feel better knowing I’m not alone in these thoughts. On a side note, I really loved your bread series. How did that fare commercially?

  3. Maxine Donald says:

    I TOTALLY agree with all you have said re your changes in style Richard as I too went through Art School (albeit in SA) last century when the era of hard edge and pop art was ‘in fashion’. I am a watercolourist (self-taught in that medium as it was CERTAINLY not in vogue at the time of my art school education). Like coloured pencil it suffers from a bad rap a lot of the time as not being ‘permanent’ or whatever. Sadly, art suffers from many misconceptions as regards media, leaning heavily on the whims of what is said/made to be in vogue by publicity etc at any given time, rather than what is skilled, thoughtful, etc. – the elements that really are the difference between fine creative art rather than ‘happy accidents’ or ‘trendy’ art.
    I enjoy your ‘changes’ in style, form, media BECAUSE it has the an obvious underlying skill of the elements of composition, line and form, colour, incredible in-depth observation, etc etc, the things that are lacking in so much of the art being presented at this time.
    If you have to sell your soul to make a living then do what you have to do, but please don’t compromise your integrity and incredible skill ENTIRELY. Perhaps you can keep both happening? There will always be those who appreciate SKILLED art!

  4. Bev Lewis says:

    Richard, it is very much the same here in the UK, I started out doing wildlife, mostly African, in a detailed realistic style, 30 years later, and a change to landscape, I am still struggling to sell, Oh I have sold the occasional elephant and a few landscapes, these from local shows, nothing grand, I don’t have the readies to spend on fancy framing to gallery standard, and have been on the point of giving up completely, but then what what I do, I love art, drawing painting, coloured pencils, pen, graphite, whatever. So you have my sympathies completely. I too need to earn (just a bit, never wanted to be famous) to be able to buy art supplies, but the costs keep rising and so it is becoming less feasible to carry on. But the desire to produce art is not going to go away….the garage becomes ever crowded with unwanted pictures. By the way I LOVE your landscapes, they epitomise, to me, all that is Australian.

    • artkleko says:

      Thanks for your comments and your support, Bev. Passion is the greatest motivator artists crave for and once they have it, it needs to be fed and nurtured. Keep up the good work. I enjoy seeing your work!

  5. Charlee Hyde says:

    I agree with all the previous comments both in their praise and encouragement for you and your work and in the need to keep on “arting” even despite the personal expense. I did my degree as a very mature aged student in Perth just recently where the emphasis was on seeking out the previously undone. There are a lot of things undone for a good reason. The need for originality eclipsed the need for skill in quite a few cases. . I use pencil partly because of its affordability and I rarely frame. I don’t think I ever expected to make any money. I am not into the marketing side of art.

  6. Ingrid says:

    I love your contemporary works Richard. I’m surprised they don’t sell.
    I have come to the conclusion that selling art is an art in itself. It requires a different set of skills. I don’t rely on real galleries, but I have made some sales online through Bluethumb. Facebook and Instagram self-marketing is a real thing these days too. And there’s also Etsy and similar online platforms to market your work. Or just go into fine art reproductions of your work. I also hold market stalls a few times a year and am just now becoming known in my area. I have had to add other handmade items and cards to my stall which are affordable, they bring the audience and enough cash to buy more materials for my art making.

    • artkleko says:

      Yes Ingrid, marketing certainly is an art in itself!
      I’m very unsettled here in NSW, away from my studio back in Tasmania and I’m looking forward to our return in Jan 2020. The market here is very hard to crack! Good luck with the journey you’re on! 😀

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