A veteran of more than 40 solo exhibits around the country, Austin painter Will Klemm enchants with his luminous skyscapes and ethereal, glowing landscapes — paintings that stand as artistic forums on the play of light. His current exhibit at Wally Workman Gallery reveals the latest from this prolific artist.
American-Statesman: The paintings in your current exhibit represent a wide variety of landscapes — desert, meadow, seaside. From where do you source your landscapes, and do you paint from photos you take?
Will Klemm: My paintings come from both my travels and from my imagination. Lots of people asked me about this at the opening of this show. It seems to be about half and half. And yes, I do work from photographs of places I've visited. But even in that case, I often, though not always, depart quite radically from the captured image. As an artist you are free to literally move mountains, and I often do.
There are more than 100 paintings in the current show. Do you work fast or just a lot?
One of my best paintings this year — a man being thrown off of a rodeo bull — was done with a few strokes in less than a minute. I amazed even myself. But I've also labored over works for years, painting and repainting. The funny thing is that the art-viewing public seems to want to hear that I have put long hours into a piece, but I've found that my most successful work happens quickly, effortlessly and is the result of simply being in the flow. I took a workshop with artist Michael Workman a couple of years ago, and at the end of it he advised me, 'I think you work best when you work fast, but with thought.' Underlying all questions of speed, though, is the whole issue of constancy and work ethic, and I'll confess to having a pretty good work ethic and the ability to work through years of very disappointing results without giving up.
When you visit the Blanton Museum of Art, are there any works you always go see?
When I go to the Blanton — which I do often — I'm particularly drawn to the holdings of the Suida-Manning Collection, also (realist painter) Robert Henri's and (impressionist) William Merritt Chase's portraits and especially Raphael Soyer's painting of a room full of down-and-out men during the Depression. You would think I'd know the title of the Soyer piece since I've loved and visited it now for 20 years, but I always look at the painting and not the label.
Which brings me to a pet peeve: When I went to (the Blanton) to see the Petrobelli Altarpiece exhibit a couple of weeks ago, there were about 20 people in the room and yet every single one of them was reading the informational panels. Not a single person looked at the painting!
'Will Klemm: New Work'
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday
Where: Wally Workman Gallery, 1202 W. Sixth St.
Information: 472-7428, www.wallyworkmangallery.com