art crawl - Kathe Fraga

"The paintings of Kathe Fraga's French Wallpaper Series are inspired by the hand painted, time worn walls of grand old Parisian mansions. Each painting evokes an aged decorative panel adorned with birds, flowers, vines and leaves in the Chinoiserie style. Fraga's modern interpretation of this style is the bright, colorful and full of fanciful imagery that first made this style popular in the 17th and 18th centuries."

I love the discoveries to be made when viewing Kathe's pieces.  There is always a story within a story and a scene peeking beneath the obvious that is waiting for you to notice its presence.  Although influenced by the past and patina of treasured items, there is a nostalgic modernity to her work that is dreamy and softly layered.  Kathe creates her wonderful paintings with acrylic, ink, and fresco on canvas and then finished with lacquer. 

Where do you go or look for inspiration?

My paintings have a dreamy fantasy quality to them. Images are in turn blurry and then clear-colors run into other colors, birds and butterflies flit through pinks, red and turquoise. Sometimes a small rose might peek out from behind a veil of jade green. If you look closely, you might find a french word of love hidden in the paint. My images bubble up from my past based on things that enchant and delight me: Old silky kimonos, worn lacquer boxes, fragile Japanese parasols, old lace, embroidered French linens, vintage porcelain teacups covered in roses, well worn Chinese rugs, little bits of blue and white china shards I find on the beach. I love things that are old, things that have a past and a story. If I'm swooning over and collecting it, you'll find it in my paintings. And I love birds...why else would I put up with a cranky African Grey Parrot who tries to bite me every time I feed her?

What is the thing that you love most about your work?

Color in every hue absolutely enthralls me. Colors are so mysterious and silent yet they say so much without "talking". Think about red. There it is--red. But splash it on a wall or layer it in velvet over an old dark dining room table and you're saying something. That's what thrills me about painting. I love to write but when I'm painting I'm saying something that just speaks for itself. Pink against blue--there's a message. Lime green dripped over a dark red--another message. A blue bird glazed in turqouise sitting on a dark gnarly deep brown branch in a pink garden. Okay. I think you get it. Just writing about it makes me want to go paint that bird!

What keeps you motivated?

My husband. He's my biggest fan and never complains about the paint splats that are everywhere! And of course even though painting is such solitary work, I am always buoyed by people who love my work. It makes me so happy. When I'm painting I drift off into another world and images--leaves, vines, berries, birds--just take on a life of their own. There is abundance. There is joy. There is romance. It all happens somehow in the silence of my studio but then when the work is out there--at the galleries that represent the work--and I meet someone that responds to it--that's wonderful. And then to see it in collectors' homes alongside their cherished family things that make their home a "home"--that is really special.

What is your idea of a perfect day where you live?

Bainbridge Island is one of the most magical places in the world. And I have lived in a lot of places--South America, France, England, Denmark, both coasts of the US. My father was in the Navy so we traveled a lot. So being here on this little island in the Pacific Northwest with its moody grey days and storms and short stints of yellow sun suit me just wonderfully. Perfect day? Waves crashing on the shore, misty rain lingering in the air, coffee with cream in my hand, walking with my family soaking up the salt air and then coming back and painting painting painting. I'd have to start with red to get the perfect day going. That's my favorite color. But I also like pink. Almost as much as red.

What is your most treasured belonging?

My family is my most treasured belonging. So happy to belong with them!! My husband and my three kids. They are wonderful... most of the time.

What famous artist would you like to have lunch with?

We like to have dinner parties in the old beach stone house here on the island. The house was built in 1905 and in the house is a gargantuan old dining room table that came with the house and is probably too big to ever leave through the front door. It seats about 20 with the extra leaves. Who cares if they're a teensy bit paint spattered--oops! Anyway, there's no way I could just have one famous artist come to visit! We'd need a crowd. My husband (an artist in the kitchen!) would make something fabulous like his paella or his coq au vin and we'd sit down with the famous artist crowd for a chat. Currently I am fascinated by Van Gogh since I just had the opportunity to really get close up to his painting "The Night Cafe" at the Yale Art Gallery--I was fascinated by his thick use of paint on parts of the canvas--almost 3D! I'd like to chat with him about his motivation and basically ask him all the questions you've asked me. I am interested in how his art style changed throughout his life--he just kept growing and trying new things. I'd love to meet and talk with Marc Chagall because of his imaginative fantasy images and use of lovely mystical color. I'd invite Pierre Bonnard because he likes soft yellows, red and pinks. I would be honored to serve an appetizer to Mary Cassatt because I adore her sweet intimate soft scenes of women and family. And Hieronymus Bosch simply because his work seems so "weird" in the time when he was working--the late 1400s--everyone else at that time was painting religious and perfectly rendered artwork but not him!!--but he might be sort of scary! His work is so intriguing even now. (A big thick piece of my husband's chocolate caramel salted torte might mellow him out!)

Thanks so much Kathe!  It was such a joy speaking with you and learning a little bit more  about you!

Be sure to check out Kathe's website here!


Carol@TheDesignPages said...

I LOVE Kathe's artwork. And she's such a great person on top of it.

Studio Six Eleven said...

What a wonderful post and so beautifully written. She is an amazing artist. Thank you for sharing!

Amy @MaisonDecor said...

I enjoyed hearing from Kathe in this interview. I think she is quite talented.

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