KAREN RECZUCH Illustration

At work in Africa

It simply amazes me just how far I have traveled from my humble beginnings as a paste-up artist and advertising illustrator, both figuratively and literally. Starting with travels in West Africa to complete drawings for literacy publications, criss-crossing the nation of Canada to research and promote children’s books and continuing on to archaeological explorations on the plains of southernmost Turkey and Israel, a career in art has led me in unforeseen and delightful directions.

I’m told that as a child I was seldom found without a pencil in hand - the other usually had a book firmly grasped. Despite this, at college I shunned the notion of becoming a children’s illustrator. I spent a few years in advertising before signing up for two years with a literacy mission to Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. On returning to Canada, it was a logical step into the educational publishing market; from there I happily made the transition to picture book illustration.  I greatly enjoy the marriage of picture to text and researching the details needed to construct a believable world on the page, whether depicting a past era in history, a drive home across the night-time city or a still morning on a northern lake.

My most recent explorations in illustration have taken me much farther back than Canadian history. Since 2008 I have been the artifact illustrator for an archaeological expedition: the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli, Turkey.  In consultation with the archaeologists, my role is to accurately document the ‘small finds’ from the dig and then carefully create accurate, scientific drawings of each object for study. Although these drawings are far more technical than my children’s work, the background of research and observation has served as preparation.
Whether spending an afternoon sketching in a nearby woods or absorbed at my desk drawing an ancient artifact, I enjoy examining and recording the intricate world around me. Time spent drawing and painting is an opportunity to truly “see” and often an exercise in personal discovery and connection, not unlike meditation. My hope is that my work allows others to make similar discoveries and to share the delight of visually exploring our shared environment.

In Turkey