Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"The Collector", oil on panel, 26" x 32"

This is a portrait I just completed for the New York collector Neale Albert and his lovely wife Margaret. He asked to be painted in his library with some of his favorite pieces. He has an astounding collection of paintings, porcelain, English brass, miniature Shakespeare books, and a beautiful replica of the new Globe Theater made by Tim Gosling. He is also known for commissioning unusual  (and challenging) projects from artists, cabinet makers, and book binders. His collection will eventually go to Yale University and there will be an exhibition at Yale next spring of his miniature Shakespeare collection called  "The poet of them all": William Shakespeare and miniature designer bindings from the collection of Neale and Margaret Albert.  They have decided to show this portrait as part of the exhibition. 
A few interesting things about the painting: There are paintings by George Deem, Robert Kulicke and Nell Blaine among others. Neale and Margaret own another small apartment two floors above their  apartment on Park Avenue, which opens on to a roof garden, that overlooks the city. They call this apartment and garden "The Morgan Cottage" and refer to it as their summer home. So to include it in the painting we brought it down to the 6th floor and opened the library to it (in the painting). Neale and Margaret are also represented in the garden, enjoying a peaceful glass of wine above the chaos of the city.  Also included in the painting are many objects they cherish from their personal life histories. I have known Neale for a long time and I did another painting for him years ago of his favorite London pub. It was an honor to do this portrait for them and it gave me a deep appreciation for their lives and the kind of focus, passion and perseverance it takes to form a collection over a lifetime. And I admire their generosity in giving the collection to Yale where it will be appreciated by many-forever.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"The Sunday Paper" and homage to "La Grande Jatte"

I finished this painting, "The Sunday Paper", just in time to frame it and put it on a truck to Dog and Horse Fine Art, in Charleston, South Carolina. My show there opens on Friday night and I am very excited about it. http://www.dogandhorsefineart.com/index.php/exhibits/item/kathryn-freeman-a-perfect-reality  Come to the opening if you are going to be in Charleston! There will be jazz music and cupcakes! Along with wine, of course. Charleston is known for its Friday night art openings.

"The Sunday Paper", oil on linen, 36" x 48"

 As you can see the interior of the painting is a typical Sunday morning in some houses-guy on the sofa, dozing off while reading the Sunday paper. His faithful dogs would love to go to the park, but their owner won't wake up and take them. So the park is coming to them.

Georges Seurat's incredible painting, "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte", has had a huge role in my development as a painter over a period of 30 (at least) years. I fell in love with it when I was in graduate school, -for its formality, compositional brilliance, such as the use of the golden section and diagonals, use of the silhouette, shape repetition, shape symbolism, and about a million other reasons. Seurat was a genius and so much more than the "pointillism" technique he used for awhile, which tends to be his big claim to fame in art history books. He died at age 32 and I always wonder what he would have produced if he had lived longer. He was a skilled draftsman as well as an auspicious colorist, so he was capable of anything.

Whenever I feel confused about painting (frequently) I return to La Grande Jatte along with going back to look at Vermeer's "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter". Those two paintings clear my head, reinforce what painting is about, and restore my faith.  I had seen lots of studies and reproductions of La Grande Jatte but I had never seen the big finished painting until last year when I finally got to Chicago. The painting took my breath away and I felt dizzy standing in front of something I had studied and admired for so long. I spent the entire day there.

It was time to pay homage. So I decided to make the park in "The Sunday Paper", La Grande Jatte.

I had to expand Seurat's landscape a little bit so that it was visible out the door and the side window, and I borrowed a few figures from some of his other paintings and studies. As you can see, a few elements of the painting have already seeped into the room. The monkey on a leash being held by the woman with the black parasol has sneaked into the picture along with her hat, as have some of the vertical elements and diagonals. I do realize that there are a lot of people who are not reading a hard copy of the newspaper anymore, so there is a tablet (maybe a kindle?) on the coffee table on top of the red book. So that is me tipping my top hat to new technology, while also tipping it to one of the greatest paintings of the 19th century. Thank you Georges. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer, Water, Mermaids- Limited Edition, Signed Prints

Hot and sultry days, heirloom tomatoes and corn, diving into the waves, going fishing, sailing, looking for mermaids...

Since summer is upon us my printmaker in Charleston is doing a limited print edition of two of my mermaid paintings- "The Attraction of Fishing" and "Water Music".  There is more about these two paintings in the archives of my blog, so just scroll down.

I received the proofs yesterday and I am excited to say that they are perfect. They are printed on beautiful archival paper, signed and numbered. Let me know if you would like to order one or both!

The Attraction of Fishing

                                                                   Water Music

Price and size options:
The Attraction of Fishing-  15" x 20"   $275
                                                20" x 28"  $375

Water Music                       16" x 20"   $275
                                              24" x 30"   $395
10% discount for two prints

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sometimes Magic Happens -"The Queen of Hearts"

The Queen of Hearts, egg tempera, oil & gold leaf on panel, 48" x 60"

     Many years ago I was asked to do a painting for a fundraiser in New York City that was being held for the Big Apple Circus's Clown Care Unit. http://www.bigapplecircus.org/clown-care which was started by a legendary man and legendary clown Michael Christensen- also known as Dr. Stubs.
The Clown Care Unit is a group of specially trained clowns who visit the hospital rooms of sick children. Michael/Dr. Stubs believed deeply in the healing power of humor and felt that "clown rounds" could do great things for sick kids and their families.  I was  honored to be asked  because I believed in the idea, and I am always searching to make my work meaningful to humanity.
 I did a painting called "The Queen of Hearts". The painting is of a mother by the bedside of a sick child. She hears a sound at the door to the room and sees The Queen entering the room carrying a heart on a pillow.
     I attended the Clown Care Benefit Auction at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in Soho. It was a magical night with both benefactors and clowns chatting and mingling. One clown kept walking by me and sneaking things out of my purse then handing them back to me with a twinkle in his eye. The clowns were so funny and colorful, they lightened up what might have been a typical stuffy black tie art evening. I could imagine how cheerful, comforting and entertaining they must be for a child who feels miserable and frightened in a sterile hospital room.
     In the middle of the evening someone came up to me and told me that "The Queen of Hearts" had been taken out of the auction. I wasn't sure what had happened at the time, but I later found out that the organizer  of the benefit had actually purchased "The Queen" for Michael.  Here is the story from Michael, in his words, which he wrote to me earlier this spring in an email.

March 3, 2015

For Kathryn,

I am standing in the basement of an art gallery in Soho watching pieces of art arrive that are going to be auctioned off to benefit the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit.  The Queen of Hearts, a painting by artist... Kathryn Freeman, just arrived.  When I see it, I start to cry and don’t know why; it doesn’t matter; this painting touches my soul. I immediately turn to the gallery owner and make a bid for the painting, $1,000.  Fat chance. The painter is very well known and since it is a benefit, my bid will not even cover her minimum.

Rick Segal, the man who organized the benefit stands next to me and says: “You will never get it.” Thanks, Rick. Thanks for your positive attitude.

The evening of the auction arrives and I, dressed as a clown, am the auctioneer.  I do my best to run the fine line between entertaining the audience and selling the art.  Right in the middle of selling a piece, Rick whispers: “The Queen of Hearts is gone.” Ok. I loved it. It touched my soul and it is gone. Ok. I accept that; many things and people I love leave. It’s ok. Let’s continue with the job at hand; let’s sell as many pieces of art that we can at the highest prices possible to benefit our program.

I am in the dressing room after the show taking off my makeup. Rick comes in and says: “Michael, follow me; I have something to show you.” He stands me in front of the Queen of Hearts and says: “Wendy and I bought this for you. You deserve it.”

The Queen of Hearts hangs on the wall in our living room.  I don’t remember when I first noticed it. I was standing on the landing.  I looked at the painting and felt that there was something different. As I looked more closely, I noticed that the sunlight that was streaming into the living room of my home lined up perfectly with the “painted” light that was streaming into the living room of the piece. I stopped. It was perfect. There was no difference between what I was experiencing in life and what I was experiencing in the painting; they were the same. This time, I didn’t cry; I wondered.

More. Maybe it happened every year and I just didn’t notice; maybe it happened only this year, only now, only in this moment. I am sitting in the living room with my wife, Karyn.  She says: “Look at the painting.” I look up to see the child’s face illuminated by golden light, warm, soft golden light only on the child, perfectly aligned; the line separating painted life from breathing life is dissolved; there is no difference.

Thank you.


Michael also sent me some photos of the painting lit by the natural sunlight in the room in the way he had described it...  I am so happy that Michael and his wife have "The Queen of Hearts" and I am honored that my work and life have touched theirs. 

Art and life, life and art. Sometimes magic happens. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Armchair Blues"

This is my most recent painting. The inspiration for it came from multiple sources as is the case with most of my paintings. As you all know by now, I am a big advocate for adopting shelter dogs. The before and after photos are among the things I like best about the dog rescue world. So in the first photo you see a skinny, sad, mangy dog on a concrete floor or tied to an outdoor dog house in a dirt yard. Then the second photo shows the same dog looking well fed, happy and relaxed on a comfy couch in someone's living room. A few months ago I discovered there is a little company that produces piano music especially to calm the nerves of stressed dogs. I downloaded some for my two, and oddly they did seem to enjoy it. One of my favorite Italian Renaissance painters is Fra Angelico. Lately I have been looking at his interesting and often dissonant color palettes, which influenced the yellow and blues in this painting. And lastly the title... there is a great tune that Ray Charles performed called the "Rockin Chair Blues".  It is the perfect music for this painting but since the dogs are in armchairs, not rocking chairs, (that would be tricky), I changed the title a little.
And I also need to thank Ellie, of Two Blockheads fame, for letting me use her photo for the dog in the striped chair.

                                "Armchair Blues, oil on linen, 36" x 48"

Here are some links you might like:

Music to calm dogs:  http://throughadogsear.com/
Two Blockheads:  https://www.facebook.com/TwoBlockheads
Rockin' Chair Blues:
Remdog and Loulou enjoying some tunes:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"Rabbit Summer" Limited Edition Prints Available

"Rabbit Summer"
limited edition, signed, giclee prints
on beautiful archival paper
24"x 24"

The prints are $375 plus $20 shipping unless I can deliver it to you.
If you would like to order a print of "Rabbit Summer" or have questions,
please email me.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Lake House, After the Storm"

I just recently completed a painting titled "Lake House, After the Storm".
It is a long canvas, 30 x 66 inches, oil on linen. I love working on this format as it lends itself to narrative and enables me to create a sequence of  events that tells what the beginning of the story is, (even if the catalyst for the narrative is outside the picture plane), what is happening in the picture plane, and what is likely to happen outside the picture plane on the other side.  The idea for this painting grew out of other images that I have been working on in the past few years - the floating room paintings like "Water Music" and "The Attraction of Fishing" as well as "Moon River" where the water is slowly wending its way into the interior.

"Water Music" 
"The Attraction of Fishing"
"Moon River"

I composed "Lakehouse"  using a series of arches to emphasize the right to left movement as well as to isolate the series of vignettes and images. I liked the idea of painting a room and then "flooding" it by glazing color over the floor plane.  I have always been fascinated by images of flooded rooms after natural disasters and how a room seems familiar but at the same time is rather disorienting.

The kernel of the idea for "Lake House" came to me one day when I was walking my dogs in a fundraiser for Best Friends Animal Society with Lucky Dog Rescue. For part of the walk I strolled beside a young man who told me that he first got into animal rescue after Hurricane Katrina. He was working for a company in the south, so he went to New Orleans to help. His job was to paddle around the flooded homes and pick up animals that were stranded. He said it was a very moving experience and he has been involved in animal rescue ever since. The image stayed in my head and even though I know his experience didn't look anything like this painting, the image was inspired by his story.

I tried to make the interior in this painting some what timeless with the classical columns and arches, and the fresco on the exterior wall. I wanted it to create an association for the viewer of ruins or a once beautiful place that is being threatened or destroyed, so the title "Lake House, After the Storm" is meant to evoke an association of the threat of global warming on our environment.

Here are some images of the process:

Graphite study for composition and light

Underpainting in grisaille on gessoed linen

First glaze or "imprimatura"  over the underpainting

Image where some of the interior and the floor plane are in

The finished painting
 (click on it to enlarge the image)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Remains of the Day

In "The Remains of the Day" the hero returns from a very long day at work, to find that he has been away so long, a large tree has grown in his living room. His little terrier looks at  him as if to say "Sorry, but there was nothing I could do to prevent this".  He decides to make  the best of the remains of his day, so he strips down to his boxers, makes himself a scotch, and climbs up to the roof terrace to relax.  It is the story of the "everyman". In literature  and drama, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily, and who is often placed in  extraordinary circumstances. The three panels that make up the triptych are each 18" high by 24" wide.

Here is the preliminary sketch for the panels-graphite on paper