Combining narrative with landscape and classical composition, artist Kathryn Freeman’s dreamlike oil paintings draw the viewer in. See more of her intriguing compositions by visiting her website.
My fascination with storytelling and treading the delicate balance between reality and dream is the foundation for my paintings. I love fairy tales, mythology and magic realist literature, and these are often the inspiration for my work.
I look for the wonder behind everyday existence, and try to interpret the symbolism of ordinary things. I hope to create a harmony in which form and content merge to convey a convincing world and a believable narrative.
I started my career as a landscape painter when I lived and studied with my uncle, the painter Robert Jordan. I love nature and the outdoors and felt that expressing that was a very honest reason to paint. Then, when I was a graduate student, I went to Italy for the first time and fell in love with the frescoes as well as the tiny storytelling predellas that are at the bottom of altarpieces depicting the lives of saints.
I came back from Italy, adding more figures and animals to my paintings and allowing myself to embrace narrative, which was not a popular concept at that time. I was also enchanted by the interior spaces in the Italian predellas and I started working on a series of narrative interiors that I am still engaged with today.
Interior Dreams are the latest incarnation of that concept and I feel that in this work my landscape background and fascination for the storytelling potential of an interior space are melding together. The human figure and their companion dogs or cats are part of the composition and play a role in conveying meaning.
My intention is to evoke a mood and invite the viewer to enter the painting, bringing their own stories with them.
My process for painting starts with a tiny sketch on grid paper of the space I wish to compose. I overlay that with sheets of tracing paper, moving figures and objects around in the space. When I am satisfied with the arrangement, I do a color study in watercolor or gouache.
Once I am on the large canvas, I put a reddish tone (usually transparent gold ochre and alizarin crimson) over the whole surface and when that is dry. I grid the canvas. Every painting has an underlying geometric scheme and perspective system. I draw with charcoal first and then make a tonal underpainting in oil using raw umber and titanium zinc white. When that is dry, I glaze the underpainting with a layer of transparent color that becomes the base for more layers which I keep building until the painting is complete.
I am currently working on paintings that have an underlying environmental meaning. The first of these is “Lake House, After the Storm.” I just finished “Mending the Tigers” and “Lullabye for Lions” is in process.
I would say that my main intention is to create an image that is both meditative and intriguing to the viewer, and I love to hear how others interpret my paintings.