When did you first become interested in art?
I clearly remember at a very young age my mother returning home from a community art class. When she showed me her completed project, I was intensely intrigued with what she had made. While examining it I felt very alive with a new sense of excitement. It was undoubtedly a watershed moment.
I instinctively knew that I too wanted to create and work with my hands. As a child sitting in the classroom, I remember wishing I could work with my hands rather then sitting at a desk. It took decades before that dream was realized.
What style of art do you use most?
I refer to myself as a 3D Sculptural Painter. I have innovated my own medium. In 2008 the greeting card company Pierre Belvedere selected me as Canadian Artist for their Canadian Collection. This is how they described my artwork on the greeting cards that were marketed: Anne Klar’s Vibrant Imagination Coupled With The Ingenuity Of Her Two Hands Come Together To Create 3D Works Of Art That Reach Out Off The Canvas And Touch The Heart. Working Primarily In Clay, Anne Klar Magically Breathes Life Into Her Creations. Creating Texture Upon Texture, Her Innovative Medium Creates a Fine Art Print That Is Truly Unique. I think that describes my style quite well.
Has your style changed from when you first began as an artist?
Yes my style has certainly evolved. Every time I begin a new piece I am always striving to do something different from the piece before. The determination to try new things is what helps an artist’s style to evolve.
That is one of the wonderful things about being involved in an artistic process, you never stand still. You also never know where It will take you.
What medium do you use?
I work primarily in Clay. My artwork it is a combination of clay & painting which I refer to as 3D Sculptural Painting. I find the medium very exciting and I very much want to communicate that to the viewer. People often remark on how they feel the 3D medium draws them in and allows them to get lost. I often hear, “I feel as though I am there”, or “I feel as though I am in the print”. As an artist it is very satisfying to hear that because I then know I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do.
Clay allows me to give the illusion of so many different textures. It is a very forgiving medium. I like its flexibility and the sheer wonder of seeing a ball of clay turn into something that feels almost alive. With every new piece, I continue to discover more about what I can do with clay.
Many of my pieces have laundry hanging on clothes lines. I very much enjoy creating the illusion of cloth and the sensation of wind blowing. In “Laundry” I have embossed on top of the clay to create different patterns and add another layer of texture.
Clay allows you to create something from nothing. It all rests on one’s imagination and the ingenuity of your two hands. I will study a ball of clay and often will see the form before I’ve created it, as though it is talking to me. I’m still dazzled by the wonder of it all.
What made you choose this medium?
I think it chose me. When my daughter Lyn was eight years-old I would work with her on various art projects. We soon began exploring plasticine and it was then that I realized I could sculpt. That was a big surprise to me as I had never known that before, or had ever considered that medium. I was actively involved in Photography from the age of sixteen and that was my sole passion.
At the time we were experimenting in plasticine, I was exploring papier mache on my own. I was constructing these large bowls; my template was a beach ball. Instead of just painting them, I decided to try and sculpt around the bowl as though it was a circular canvas. As the bowl would rotate, the story would unfold. I ultimately changed to the format you see now, and this is a perfect example how an artist’s work evolves.
Do your ideas come from life or imagination?
My ideas come from how I often imagine I would like life to be. My artwork reflects a world less frenetic and more innocent then the one I find myself living in. I try and evoke a sense of stillness and calm.
My imagination is constantly working on how to transfer the visual images that catch my attention into my 3D medium. Ideas originate from all aspects of life. Ideas often can dance around in my head for months before I even attempt to execute them. The mystery of it all is infinite.
How do you choose your images and colors?
My mind is constantly filled with images. I don’t think that is uncommon for a visual artist. I’m always looking for new concepts to explore artistically. I may see an ad in a magazine or on TV, and perhaps just a small part of that image will trigger a completely different image. I then work on how that image would transfer to my medium. I spend a lot of time with images in front of me just studying them from hours to months. Color has always felt very natural to me, almost like a seventh sense. It is part of the creative process that comes to me the easiest. I want my pieces to have a sense of harmony and that often dictates what colors I’ll use.
Do you work in a Studio?
After many years of working in the furnace room in the basement of our home, then graduating to the kitchen and then the laundry room, six years ago I made a dramatic change. I decided to convert our detached two-car garage which sits at the back of our house into a working studio.
It is a wonderful space with lots of skylights and a big bay window which looks into the garden. I designed it myself and spent quite a bit of time envisioning what it would look like. I wanted to have the feeling of working outside and the many windows create that exact effect. I love to see the four seasons pass as I’m working in my studio. During a winter storm I feel as though I’m inside a huge snowball. In fall I watch the trees over time lose their leaves, many landing on the skylights. It’s truly a magical feeling.
Russain painter Marie Bashkirtseff said about the studio: “In the studio all distinctions disappear. One has neither name nor family; one is no longer the daughter of one’s mother, one is oneself and individual, and one is before one’s art, and nothing else. One feels happy, so free, so proud!”
Who is your favorite artist?
Canadian icon Alex Colville is certainly one of my favorite artists. I became extremely interested in art when I was first introduced to his work. He has a unique vision. His artwork concentrates on the “ordinary” in life. His work taught about the beauty, elegance and importance of the moment.
What is your favorite piece of work by yourself?
I would have to say “Subway – Lonely Travelers”. The concept took many many months to execute. It is my only multi-media piece. It was also technically quite challenging. But fore most it is the feeling that this piece evokes. It seems to resonate strongly with people. The piece speaks to a certain alienation we all experience living in an urban environment. I think everyone sees themselves in this piece, at least that is what I’ve been told. I feel my objectives were met with this piece and it has generated the reaction I had hoped for.
How much time does it take to complete a work?
Oh that is something I often don’t like to think about. This medium is very slow as it is so detailed and layered. Two hands can only work so fast, there is no wiggle room for short-cuts. Depending on the piece it can run from three months to nine months. I try and work on a minimum of three pieces at a time.
How well do you take criticism?
I think one has to be open to criticism in order to improve. The work is so solitary that it is vital to have feedback. I will usually turn to my husband and children for constructive criticism. They have seen the progression of the work which is helpful in regard to criticism.
What do you do to overcome a “block”?
Blocks used to terrify me, but then overtime I learnt that they are inevitable. I try and mentally relax. I put faith in the creative process and understand this is part of the territory. It is not uncommon for me to put a piece aside when I may have a “block” and return to it several months later. I may start something new, or it may just mean washing brushes and cleaning my studio. It could as well be a time to look at other artist’s work or visit galleries. It’s important to stay involved and not flee.
Trust in yourself. Exercise patience. Knowing that the “block” will ultimately cease is important. I know now after many years, that when I do come out of the “block”, there is something really wonderful waiting for me on the other side. I’ve learnt that inspiration will come to those who work even when not inspired. That is the great challenge. Time is the best teacher.
How do you know something is finished? Is it easy to walk away?
I start off with an initial concept so I have a strong idea of where I am going. Having said that, one can be surprised and land up in a completely different direction as well. It is very important to be flexible and to be able to change tracks. But I generally have a strong sense of what I want to see in my finished piece. I’ve often been referred to as a “story teller”, so when my story is told, then my piece is completed. Many authors say that the book writes itself, to a certain extent I can say the same for a painting.
I’m so eager to try my hand at a new concept that it is not hard to walk away.
Have you had exhibits in galleries?
I have not exhibited in an art gallery, but I was selected as one of eight Toronto artists for a city-wide tour. People were bussed to my studio to view my artwork.
Have you any exhibits in galleries planned for the future?
I don’t have anything at the present.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on three new pieces. A snow scene, a beach scene and a piece that expresses my love of music. Although all obviously different in subject matter, each piece has something new that I’ve yet to do before. This is what creates the excitement for me.
What are your plans for the future?
I intend to continue designing, creating and exploring new concepts. I have several marketing strategies which I intend to implement in 2012.
As well, I’d like to partner with a Fine Art Publisher in the distribution of my fine-art prints.
Since 2010 Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto has been raising money through my artwork. I would like to continue seeing my artwork generate money for a worthwhile cause. This has always been a very strong goal of mine.
What advice did you get from an artist that was helpful?
The best advice I received was being told what can be imagined, can be achieved. I actually now have these words taped to my desk as they hold much meaning for me. It is all about believing that you can make things happen.
I was advised to put doubt aside as it truly inhibits creativity.
There are so many rough patches that it is critical to have this strong foundation of belief to fall back on. I was told to believe in myself and not get distracted by all that can negatively impact on your ability to create. Exercising self-discipline, having a vision, being determined and having the “will”, will ultimately take you were where you are supposed to be.
What advice would you give to new artist?
Push fear aside and replace it with courage. Risk failure as that it really how so many surprisingly wonderful things happen. Trust your intuition, it will guide you. Play as you did when you were a child.
I always remember the quote from Robert Schuller that said, “Build a dream and the dream will build you”. This is a journey and if you stay the course it will be a magical one. You will grow as a person in ways you could never have imagined. If you love what you do and persist, over time a confidence will grow within you that will not only help your development as an artist, but as a person.
On a more academic level, it is very important to continually look at other’s artist’s work. Go to shows, galleries, or just spend time surfing the net viewing artwork. Don’t be afraid to approach an artist whom you admire. I’ve found artists to be very willing to help.
How do you market?
Most of my marketing is done on the net.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
No I don’t.
Have you done any courses to help you?
No I’m completely self-taught.
Are you available for work (commissions)?
No as that is not the way I work. I can’t create according to someone else’s plans.
Have you any hobbies?
I’m a passionate gardener and grow water lilies. I fell in love with the camera at the age of sixteen. I’ve worked in the industry prior to becoming a full-time artist and the camera remains an art form that I’m still engaged in. I love to sail, hike, cycle, play tennis take long walks, read good books, cook, snowshoe in the winter and see good theater. And lastly, play my tenor saxophone.
Where do you reside?
I live in Toronto, Canada.