Artist Interview: Klara Jones


What do you do when one of your good friends is also an incredibly inspirational and dedicated multi-media artist? Well, you interview them of course! 🙂

The Interview

Who are you and what do you do? 

I can call myself an artist after 20 years of self doubt. I do painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, but first and foremost, I draw.

Why do you do what you do? 

Because I cannot stop. I get tetchy and irritated if I don’t draw for a while.
Ideas also swirl through my head and, like winding up a clock, sooner or later it is fully wound up and ready to come out as a sketch, drawing, painting, etc.

How do you work? 

I get passionate about my project, read and research as much as I can, talk to friends/artists, sketch ideas as I go. I need to be alone once I start working. People distract me then. I’m currently working on the kitchen table as the studio room I have is too small and cluttered, and cold in the winter. I start the studio day doing household chores so I can then focus on my art without distraction. It would be a dream to have a studio away from the house. It is also helpful to have a few projects on the go, or an exhibition date to work to. Otherwise work (my other job), life, family, friends call me away.

 

What’s your background? 

I’m from a Central European background, Hungary and Romania. I have been told my subject matter and style is quite dark.

I’ve studied only through TAFE (Adult Education College), first with a certificate in art and design, then working towards a diploma in visual arts. Something I never completed, however it gave me skills in film photography and darkroom process, as well as painting, drawing and printmaking.

I found the more teachers one has over time, the more one learns.

I had to leave study to work and picked up a job as a graphic designer based on a folio of drawings.

 

 

What’s integral to the work of an artist? 

The freedom to explore. Supportive friends and family who respect my art as work. Being part of an artist community to share ideas and solidarity.

Permission to allow myself to go into the studio even if it’s not a productive day.

Discipline to stay in there when it’s a beautiful day outside or my art isn’t working out.

What role does the artist have in society? 

In good times, the artist can feed the soul with beauty or thought-provoking work. In bad times, the artist can feed the soul and create a temporary escape. Without artists, there would be no movies, fashion, aesthetics in architecture or cars, furniture, watches, clothing. It is all around us.

 

What has been a seminal experience? 

That moment for me was in 1986 at the Brisbane Art Gallery, QLD. I went to see the 20thCentury Masters exhibition of works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. I walked around a corner and saw Picasso’s ‘Woman in White’. The sight of it knocked the air out of me and staring at it was the moment I thought I must learn to create work as beautiful.

Explain what you do in 100 words 

I draw mostly, sometimes whimsical pen and inks, sometimes more serious portraits and nudes. I love the face, the body, the person. It is an endless exploration – from describing the curves and lines that create a figure, to the folly of human character.

I prefer black and white as so much can be described with tone, line and texture. Colour can sometimes confuse the message, although it has its uses for emotion and interest.

 

How has your practice changed over time 

I think I’ve grown more skilled and confident. I used to worry that I wasn’t selling work and making a living from it. For me now, it’s not about earning money, it’s about having something to say and sharing it. Also, I don’t need to worry about what will sell and making it ‘commercially appealing’.

It has always been about making people smile, feel an emotion or to think.

What art do you most identify with? 

The line. Whether it is drawing, etching or big calligraphic brush strokes.

What work do you most enjoying doing? 

Drawing. Whether it’s the feint spidery tickle of pencil on cartridge, the dark, thick smudge of charcoal or the danger of nib pen and with Indian ink (danger being the potential to splat on the page if I am not concentrating).

Or, I could say, whatever I am doing when the flow hits me.
When I paint, I fall in and out of love with the painting depending on what stage it is at.
I love the technical side as well, so printmaking or working in the darkroom developing photos is great.

 

What themes do you pursue? 

Human nature and story telling. I’m currently reading Grimm’s tales. It works on so many levels: love, escape, morals, adventure, the protagonist ending with success, good guys, bad guys, tragedy, sometimes magic or a gift, evil, fragility, resistance, honesty, bravery, perseverance.

What’s your favourite art work? 

That is tough. It’s like asking what is my favourite song.

Probably depending on my mood at the time.

Many artworks.
Woman in White remains one of my favourite paintings. It is serene, multi-layered but with simple, muted colour. William Dobell’s portrait of Helena Rubenstein in the NGV Australia. A wood bas relief of Salome from the 14thC in the NGV International. Eastern European religious icons. Otherwise, anything by Caravaggio or several Australian and local Gippsland artists.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you? 

Warsaw National Museum, a student, Erik, from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, was painting a 1:1 scale of Jan Matejko’s ‘Battle of Grunwald’. Size of the original is 10 metres wide x 4metres deep. Erik was painting it in twelve panels over two years. His dedication to the project made me think to lift my game.

I also know two art teachers, who are partners. They both work fulltime and raise a child. They each take a turn in the studio after work whilst the other sorts out the family, dinner and housework. This is discipline. And it works.

Why art? 

Art is important to life. My life. Also to everyone. To live without it would make life dull.

What is an artistic outlook on life? 

Seeing beauty in small things or trying to draw attention to the everyday.

Problem solving by not always thinking logically.

What memorable responses have you had to your work? 

My first solo exhibition. I had no idea if anyone would turn up. It was crowded and I sold 2/3 of the work on opening night. As much as selling the work wasn’t so important, it was validation that it was worthwhile and people connected with it.

A few people said they had cried when they saw pieces I had made.

 

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it? 

It can be lonely. When I’m busy or have limited time I don’t notice it.

I might take a little break or an evening off. Spend time with my partner or call family or a friend.

When people come to visit I cannot work and have to pack up and pay attention to them. I must be careful not to spend too much time alone.

What do you dislike about the art world? 

One comment about me once, “but she only draws.” No he hadn’t seen anything else I have done over the years but the comment was still insulting.

I see drawing as a means in itself, not a means to an end.

Art investment that follows trends, rather than talent.

Pretentiousness with only mediocre work.

Snobbishness – when one must have the right CV to become short-listed for an art prize and come from the ‘right’ art school. It should be judged on how accomplished and imaginative the artist is and the artwork should speak for itself.

 

What do you dislike about your work? 

That I only draw.

Sorry, no, that’s not true.

That I don’t draw enough.

That I don’t do anything enough.

That I can get distracted.

That I thought after 20 years I would be more accomplished. I see art and skill as levels. Always chasing the next level and hoping not to go backwards.

What do you like about your work? 

I like when I get it right and cannot criticise it. I enjoy looking at some pieces even years later.

Should art be funded? 

Well, YES!

What role does arts funding have? 

It allows artists the chance to explore their ideas without compromise, pays for art material, allows communities to have projects when they couldn’t otherwise realise their ideas. There is a cultural aspect to a society and part of the government’s job is to promote the culture within the society.

 

What research do you do? 

Internet, reading books on topics, techniques, visiting galleries, talking with fellow artists, or non-artists, on topics I might need to learn.

What is your dream project? 

The one I am doing – Grimm’s tales.

Then the next one…

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. 

Sue Fraser, local Gippsland artist.

Kathe Kollwitz, German expressionist artist.

Aubrey Beardsley

Favourite or most inspirational place 

NGV International and NGV Australia in Melbourne. After his death in 1904, Alfred Felton left money to the National Gallery of Victoria, which has been used to invest in artwork, making it one of the best galleries in the world. I always have a little thrill when I see ‘Felton Bequest’ next to an artwork.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 

Don’t start the details too early in a drawing. Keep it general for a while until you know it is correct.

Also, if the eye is in the wrong place (for example), even if it’s the best eye you have ever drawn, rub it out and correct it.

Professionally, what’s your goal? 

To be professional in my art and its presentation. To not settle for a lesser work if I can re-do it better.

What wouldn’t you do without? 

Staedler Mars Lumograph pencils. They’re not top-of-the-range, but are still smooth to draw with. I can carry them anywhere. Plus a sketchbook for sketching people, taking notes in galleries or thrashing out ideas anywhere, anytime. These two are the most basic things. Everything else is fluff.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and processes with us Klara.

To see more of Klara’s work visit her Instagram page below:

Klara Jones, Instagram

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Top-Down Drawing Technique


Drawing can be a frustrating experience if we don’t have a fail proof technique. This is one of my favourites, known by many names including the top-down or ‘figure in the stone’ technique. In order to accurately capture the dimensions as well as plot the composition on the page one begins with quick broad strokes to capture the largest general shape first (demonstrated below in orange.) Once we’re satisfied that we have the overall shape as accurately as we can (taking note of angles in relation to one another) we ‘carve out’ negative spaces and angles in a generalised manner too, demonstrated in black pen below. Obviously this is all done lightly in pencil in a typical drawing.

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If we’ve done this correctly, adjusting as we go along until we’re satisfied with the angles, ensuring that our relationships / proportions are accurate, attention can be given to drawing in the details as demonstrated in the image below.

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This technique works with any subject matter, be it still life, landscape or portraiture. For demonstration purposes I drew a simple tea cup on the iPad which I coloured with digital watercolour and shaded with hatching.

If you’re frustrated by drawing give this method a go, and let me know if it works for you. Remember you can improvise as you wish once you have an accurate drawing on paper, allowing your personal style and creativity to flow freely. I deliberately wanted a loose style of drawing as can be seen by my pen strokes.

Cuppa anyone?

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Daily Prompt: Witness


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Behind Lace


A few weeks ago I was working on an art project that involved subverting an architectural structure in a way that changes its original meaning. The building I focussed on was an old Victorian theatre (built in 1876) which I decided to conceal behind lace. The concept and how I came to deciding on my idea of subversion is drawn-out, so I won’t go into detail, but I took clues from the Victorian era (hence the lace) as well as from the original purpose of the building (to entertain) which I turned around into something hidden from view rather than exposed. This idea was informed by the decayed and neglected condition that the building is in now.

Whilst on site I took many photographs and spent hours absorbing the frayed and forgotten energies of the place; I discovered and observed cracks and holes in walls floors and other surfaces that became ‘peep holes’ through which I could see glimpses of its history. This eventually developed into a theme of concealment through which to subvert the historical meaning of the building.

I might write more in a later post on the different stages of my process, but for now here is one of the outcomes; homage to what was once a vibrant architectural structure built to entertain thousands of people in an age gone by. An old theatre that now echoes silence; forgotten and hidden from view amongst the dust and debris.

 

Waiting for the Postie


Daily Prompt: A Tale of Two Cities
If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, 
which would these be?

We’re scattered across the globe, my siblings and I. Keeping in touch as most people do with electronic media. Yet, the authenticity of a handwritten letter, as rare as it is these days, is what makes our connection real. Laboriously written, decorated with lipstick kisses and doodles, coffee splatters and expletives; nothing compares to receiving a letter in my mailbox from the other end of the world in the handwriting of my beloved sister.

Facial Features – quick study


Facial Features – quick study, 2015. Graphite in sketchbook. Size: A5.

Scrunched Paper


Scrunched Paper, 2015. Graphite on paper. Size: A4.

Dining Room


Dining Room, 2015. Sepia Ink-wash. Size: A4.

Black-on-black still life


Black-on-black Sill life, 2015. Charcoal, chalk & turpentine on watercolour paper. Size: A2.

This was a uni project for my drawing unit earlier in the year.

Left Hand


Left Hand, 2015. Graphite on paper. A5

There’s always something to sketch. 🙂 This is one of my ‘evening’ sketches done a few months ago. Materials: Graphite in sketchbook. Size: A5

Addiction


Addiction, 2015. Graphite, charcoal & turpentine. A1

This is something I sketched during my first drawing unit earlier on in the year. I wanted to depict the despair and desperation that addicts as well as their loved ones go through. Some of the figures inside the pill seem to have given up while others still have some fight left in them. On the outside I drew figures trying to work out a way to rescue their loved ones who are utterly trapped by addiction. A painful journey for addicts and those who love them.

White on White – Still Life


White-on-white, 2015. Graphite on paper. A3

I sketched this white-on-white still life a few months ago during my 1st year Drawing unit.

One happy smile deserves another


In between uni studies I managed to do a quick doodle in my sketchbook of this little character who seems to be really happy today. 🙂

He needs a name I think, what shall I call him?

Sketchbook


I find keeping a sketchbook is a valuable habit that assist me with my artistic abilities. Like many things practicing one’s art is one of the cornerstones to becoming a great artist. For me it is key to remind myself that it is only a sketchbook, a place where I can make rough sketches, practice my shading or any other aspect of drawing, without worrying about the outcome. With this attitude I try to do at least one little sketch every night – no matter how silly my subject – and it is definitely paying off.

I try to remember to take my sketchbook with me whenever I go out, but truth be told I usually forget to do that. Fortunately there is always something to be sketched in my immediate vicinity, even if it is only a mug of tea!