This story was featured in the December 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
“The road to success as an artist is seldom smooth,” says Will Klemm, reflecting on his painting career. Though he began studying art in high school, Klemm worked for a decade in a variety of occupations, including restaurant worker and mechanic in the Air Force. Eventually he decided to rededicate himself to art, enrolled in the bachelor of fine arts program at the University of Texas at Austin, and never looked back. “I started showing [at galleries] during my second semester, and within a year I was supporting myself exclusively through my artwork,” he says. This month the artist presents his latest body of work in a solo show at Wally Workman Gallery. The show opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, and continues through December 24.
While Klemm first became known for his surrealistic pastel landscapes, the works in this show were all created in oil and feature both landscapes and still lifes. In addition to the shifts in medium and subject matter, the artist has recently been painting on a larger scale than in the past. But perhaps the most noticeable new development in his work is in regard to texture—a change that grew out of a statement by renowned artist Sherrie McGraw: “Painting is a very different language than drawing.” When Klemm heard McGraw say this in one of her videos, he says, “The idea lodged in my psyche like a Zen koan. Though I understood perfectly well what Sherrie meant, I was perversely drawn to start using drawing solutions for my painting problems. Stacks of lines emerged as stand-ins for flat plains of color. In this way my work became more textural, and in some cases pixilated.”
These recent shifts in Klemm’s work, combined with his long-standing ability to capture the essence and beauty of the natural world, have led to an interesting and compelling new body of work. “The paintings for this show are both peaceful and energetic, and are meant to convey my sense of wonder, pleasure, and gratitude for the many sights I’ve been privileged to observe,” Klemm says, adding, “I hope viewers will be warmed by them, and made to feel less alone.”
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