Artist Showcase: Gary Kleiner

This artist showcase comes from Gary Kleiner. Hugely influenced by his artist mother, Gary’s uses his own pain to create uniquely expressive work. Read on for more about Gary’s work and his life as an artist. If you’d like to get in touch about an artist showcase, please email 

Got to go, nice eyes

Got to go, nice eyes

When did your interest in art/creating begin?

It began in childhood because my mom is an artist – she is 79 years’ old. In elementary school I realized I was proud of art work I did. I grew up following mom to the galleries in New York – her saying of the minimalist artists that my art was better! I helped set up her art studios in New York. I followed her comic strips and kid books. Van Gogh is my favourite – the story makes the artist. I also like Keith Harring, Basquiat, Bacon, Picasso, Dali, Kahlo etc.

A Graffiti study

A graffiti study

What is your starting point for each piece?

Very interesting question. First I’m empathic and highly intuitive. Originally I just drew for enjoyment. I created a method of drawing in a mental hospital. It consists of listening to emotional music, closing my eyes with paper in front of me. I take my pencil, I think about what I want to draw – I feel the presence of the paper and go. I draw about 20 different lines and open my eyes. If I need more lines I close my eyes again. Now I open them. I have developed this ability to see pictures in my random lines which is one of my techniques. I do this in Starbucks in the States – they must think I’m crazy.
I ask myself what  I see on the paper with lines and connect the lines to form faces and things while thinking of my idea. My pencil drawing is now done, hopefully touching upon my unconscious. It doesn’t always capture my exact idea, but maybe I captured another thing that was bothering me.
My ideal world

My ideal world

Who/what influences your work?
My life, pain, my fathers death four years ago, my divorce four years ago, unemployment, mental illness diagnosis, other artists. My mother taught me to think of vomit when doing my work. It means more than thinking outside of the box; I make the box. I have taught myself to intentionally use pain and other difficult emotions to make my art good.  It’s interesting that all my pain has led me to something I love. I think this is my calling.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work? 
I hope the viewer gets an understanding of what my work is about. This is funny, I was going to hang this pic for a show and mom sees it. She says you’re not going to hang this? She said it looks like it was done by a psychopath. I hung it anyway knowing it is a good piece. I will adjust my works, but I’m not painting fluffy bunnies.  I would like the viewer to see the pain and sadness in the artist.
Get your ass off me

Get your ass off me

What do you think about the term outsider art? Is there a term you think works better?
I don’t mind the title. You really do feel like an outsider approaching a gallery with your work. I’m trying to get inside the art world by asking the mainstream galleries questions like ‘You didn’t like my work because?’ ‘Can you tell me exactly what you are looking for?’ I spoke to this secretary, she seemed taken aback: ‘Um um, I don’t know we just have to like it,’ and hung up. I’m trying to bring legitimacy to outsider art. Outsider art should just be called art.
a self artistic study in keeping boundaries

A self artistic study in keeping boundaries

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on a drawing of a bald man (me) covered with tattoos holding a gun – with my ex’s face on the gun. The fun is pointing at a balloon shaped like a heart with a cross in the middle. Tattoos represent all my thoughts, the gun represents my wife’s desire to keep my kids from loving me. I’m also working on another picture of me covered in tattoos with my kids physically attached to me. This is my desire – to have my kids close to me. I replay people and themes in different ways attempting to compose a nice picture. Lately I have been focusing on the importance of composition.
Where do you see your way taking you in the future?
I would like my art to continue to be seen in galleries around the world. I want to teach others the use of creativity to help them with their problems.


5 thoughts on “Artist Showcase: Gary Kleiner

    • Gary kleiner says:

      Hi Maranda,

      Thanks for checking in. I do intuitive drawings which starts by me closing my eyes to start my drawing and open my eyes to draw what I asked god. Ie. I would ask god to help me draw how I can earn money, I close my eyes, draw like 10 random lines and see the answer in my lines and draw it out.



  1. Gh kleiner says:


    Thank you for doing my story. I hope it gets others who are creative and have issues dealing with strong emotions see from me that a strong desire can lead us away from an unbearable life to a fully expressed creative life. Like pro- athletes I must thank my God for doing a great job making sure I reached my goals. If it wasn’t for his sacrifice there would be not story for me to tell.

    God bless


  2. Gh koeiner says:

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks, I didn’t know you posted this. Thank you for being so supportive with my art, this means a lot to me coming from another talented artist,

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