I was born in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, Australia’s island state and still reside here after 23 house moves, most of which were during my 35 years as an Art teacher. I retired in 2005 from full-time teaching to pursue my “dream” to become an established artist. In the past three and a half years I pushed myself to produce as much “good” work as I could. Forty hours a week in my studio has been the norm for me particularly of late. As well as being a practising artist I have managed to conduct adult art classes and have been a part-time art curator. in Launceston( which is in the north of the state). My wife Val and I are currently living in Port Macquarie, NSW, following an 8 month stay in Cairns, Queensland.

 As you can gather my surname (pronounced “Klek – och – ek) is not Australian, it’s Polish. My late father (a Rat of Tobruk) came to Tasmania in 1947 after World War 2 and married my mother, a Tasmanian. I have a brother, Andrew and a sister, Helen

 Tasmania is truly a wonderful place in which to live. The scenery is simply stunning and its population of 495,000 is well scattered throughout the island except for the southwest which is a wilderness area, most of which is listed in the national heritage register.

 You may have heard of “Taz” the Tasmanian devil. Well, he’s ours! He doesn’t spin around as in the cartoons, but he/she does make a lot of noise! We have lost about half of our devil population over the past 5 years to a facial tumour disease and it is hoped that a cure will be found soon.

 I can remember sitting on my father’s knee when I was eight watching him draw “Matchbox” trucks for me on paper with a greylead pencil. My father was a brilliant draughtsman and this instilled in me a love for drawing that is still with me today. In fact it is true to say that I have never been keener or “hungrier” when it comes to working with pencils, coloured or greylead than I am now.

 When I was in year nine at high school I was taught Art by Geoff Page who was such an inspiration to me that all I wanted to do was to become an Art teacher like him, and I did! I graduated from the Tasmanian School of Art in 1971 and taught in numerous schools before my retirement and loved the job!

I have  my own web site www.artkleko.com and  a blog, https://artkleko.wordpress.com  My representative gallery is, http://www.gallerypejean.com.au/artists/richardklekociuk

This has been an exciting time for me as I have involved myself deeper in the world of coloured pencils. I am a member of the Launceston Art Society and the Australian Coloured Pencil Artists’ Group. I have recently joined the Colored Pencil Society of America and the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society. The work I have been looking at from overseas is amazing! I have learnt so much in such a short time from reading what other artists have said and seeing their work. There is little coloured pencil work done in Australia and especially here in Tasmania as compared to the United States and United Kingdom for example. I must admit though, that my work is usually well-received in the Tasmanian Art market. I have been fortunate to win two art prizes in the past two months and have had regular success in Art Awards since 1998. I used to feel a little daunted when I entered awards that are often dominated by painters. Watercolour and acrylic are still very popular in Tasmania and acrylics are becoming more “fashionable”.

 I am determined to celebrate the qualities of coloured pencils in all their glory, regardless of “fashion” and public opinion.

 There is something very special when you put a pencil in your hand and push it over a responsive surface such as heavyweight watercolour paper or pastel board. The response is instant: a line, a mass of colour – a shape. Colours can be laid down side-by-side or overlaid. Talk about colours! What a variety there is on the market today! I use both Polychromos and Prismacolor pencils, often together in the same drawing. They blend well but their main value is in the variety of colours they offer.

 After years of trial and error I have found Canson Pastel Board to be the best surface for my work. Occasionally I use Stonehenge, Canson  and Arches paper, but the pastel board is strong and heavy, so I can push the pencil and not damage the surface.

 At Art School it became apparent that I would become a hard-edged painter. I loved working with large areas of colour and heaps of masking tape for the crisp edges! My first years of teaching realised very little work and it wasn’t until 1976 that I produced any serious work The hard-edged qualities were still evident, but the subject matter varied from strong organic abstracts to bold landscapes. Within ten years my work had become more refined and drawing re-appeared in the form of oil pastels. My first major exhibition in 1982 was quite successful and set me off on a journey where drawing would eventually dominate.

 Today my drawings are still influenced by the Tasmanian landscape but I now include a symbolist element where appropriate. Symbols have always fascinated me, whether modern or ancient. I am particularly interested in religious symbols and have been able to put that into practice by painting a series of banners for the church I attended while in Tasmania (Trinity Uniting Church, Launceston)

 There is still a hard-edged element in a lot of my work. I love using shadows and strong light. I am intrigued by the patterns that appear on rocks, reflections in water, tumbling, spraying waves and “transparent” surfaces such as rock pools and backwaters.

 I often “build” what I want to draw. I collect lots of objects, both man-made and natural which I arrange, usually outside, on clear, sunny, windless days that I photograph. It’s then back inside to upload the images on to my computer. I print the images I wish to draw on matte photo paper and grid them up to a 16 tile composition. I grid my pastel board accordingly and away I go! I use a 10% warm Polychromos grey to draw up my image. I block in the main colours/shapes first and then build these areas up where required. I usually work from dark to light.

Before adding colour to my drawing I decide on my colour palette. I lay all of my pencils out in a way very similar to a major surgical operation. I have a test strip of pastel board or paper handy for experimenting. I often have two drawings on the go as I find that this gives me a break from concentrating on one drawing for long periods.

 How long does a drawing take? How long is a piece of string? Time isn’t the issue, what is most important is knowing when to stop! Depending on its size, I like to finish one drawing each week, although that is governed by the size of each work. My drawings have decreased in size over the past three years. I prefer 15 x 23 and 12 x 15 inch-sized drawings although I will occasionally draw as large as 40 x 25 inches. A few years ago I had an exhibition of 6 x 4 drawings. What a challenge to draw so small! Despite the size restriction I quite enjoyed the experience of working in miniature.

I prefer to work in themes. I don’t stick to an idea for too long as I tend to grow tired of working on the same thing for too long. This year I have sought inspiration from sticks, stones, leaves, a rat trap, fishing lures, a chess board and my latest, bread. Next March I am having an exhibition on a “bread” theme. I have attracted the interest of a local bakery and they have donated bread products  for me to photograph and draw. I have completed six drawings to date but have had a break from this theme for a month, but I’ll get back into it in November. I’m trying to take a light-hearted approach using bread. I have included some examples in this profile but I have a long list of quite whacky interpretations to draw in the coming months.

 Never under-estimate the importance of a sketchbook or a visual diary. I have several and I’m always writing down ideas and often follow these up with sketches. I write first, and draw second. If you don’t write an idea as soon as it comes to you, it can be lost!

 My aim is to keep improving my technique as long as I can hold a pencil. One is never too old to learn new tricks! I want to sell my work overseas and take full advantage of my website and blog. I have yet to travel overseas and hope to get the opportunity one day. I enjoy teaching adults and participating in demonstrating pencil drawing at Art exhibitions when invited.

Happy drawing everyone!


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  18. jmnowak says:

    Hi Richard! I enjoy seeing your Art on IG and follow you there, @jmndotme. I too used to collect nature’s little gifts, such as stones, seaweed and other beach finds, and now the leaf branches that land on my balcony from my native garden. I like doing series work too. Look forward to reading your posts as well. Cheers, Janina 🙋

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