Creative Spotlight | John Klein

Published on 11 November 2020


Tell us a bit about who you are and what kind of creative work you make 
My name is John Klein and I am a contemporary Australian artist. I have been engaged in creative pursuits for my entire career. My love for the visual arts has seen me drawn to the mediums of film, photography and painting.   

I enjoy collecting various objects which often become the subject matter for my unique still life paintings. I am an avid gardener and this is reflected throughout my floral subjects.  


While sometimes appearing decorative in nature, my work has a deeper commentary on significant craftsmanship and tradition. I seek to document and highlight a discussion about both quality design in our everyday utilitarian items, along with the restorative force of the bloom – a life force in nature. 

I also enjoy painting portraits.  

Whereabouts do you look for creative ideas? Who or what inspires you? 
I have been collecting vases and other objet d’art (art objects) for the last 30 years. I am most interested in the designs from the arts and crafts, art nouveau and art deco periods, and these appear regularly in my paintings. Some of the vases I own and others I covet. My interest in gardening, along with art making, was encouraged by my father, who was also an artist and trained under the legendary Rayner Hoff at East Sydney Technical College (now the National Art School) in the 1930s. 


What has been the highlight of your creative career so far?  
Well actually there have been two moments which are inter-related. 

The first time I was first hung in the Mosman Art Prize it was pretty exciting. It was a portrait of my mother Edna on her 86th birthday and the judge was Lucy Culliton. It was lovely for my mother to enjoy this success with me. When legendary Australian artist Charles Blackman visited the exhibition, he wanted to vote for my painting in the People’s Choice Awards, however, he was not able to do this as the voting had closed. His publicist relayed the story to me and sent me a lovely photo of Charles giving ‘Edna’ the thumbs up. 


In 2016 I was thrilled to have the opportunity to paint Charles for the Archibald prize. I remember clearly the day that I went to his house in Woollahra to show him the completed painting for the first time. I had the painting covered with a black cloth and as Charles was wheeled towards the painting his carer told me to brace myself for the worst. I then slide the cloth off in a rather theatrical fashion to reveal the work. He sat and stared at the work for what seemed like an eternity and then turned to me and said: “10 out of 10”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that he liked the picture. He made my day! 

What’s your favourite part of working as an artist / creative? 
I love being in my studio totally immersed in my art making and get a real buzz when someone falls in love with a painting and buys it. It makes me so happy that my art can bring happiness to others.   

What’s the most challenging part of working as an artist / creative? 
Everything that you do is in the public domain and you are constantly leaving yourself open to criticism.    

Do you have any top tips for emerging artists and creatives just starting out? 
Work hard, experiment and have a passion for what you do.  

We always love recommendations! Who are some other local artists we should check out?  
I love the work of Sue Macleod Beere. More information about Sue can be found at  

John-Klein-5.png Where can we find out more about your work and get in touch? 
Facebook: @johnkleinartist


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