Today, we’re shining the spotlight on regional illustrator extrodonaire, Kathryn Freeman! And while Kathryn is taking the seat of honor here at the Coffee & Conversation cafe, I’ll go ahead and let her introduce herself:
- I have been a professional artist for thirty years, painting in traditional mediums-oil on linen primed with glue and titanium white, dozens of preliminary sketches, scaling up drawings, incorporating varnishes, and waxes, also working with egg tempera and gold leaf. I always loved children’s literature and I made attempts at illustrating some stories but my technique and style were so slow and arduous, it almost seemed impossible. I managed to illustrate one book in pastel for the author Jean Heilprin Diehl, published by Sylvan Dell, but the thought of doing more seemed overwhelming. Several illustrator agents I spoke to recommended that I find a style and medium, different from my paintings, that would allow me to work more quickly and directly. I wasn’t sure what that might be…then I received an ipad as a gift! For the past year, I have done illustrations for three digital picture books for the new online ebook company/charity called uTales using Sketchbook Pro for ipad. I haven’t tried translating my digital images into print yet but maybe I will someday. All I know is that I am enjoying my new medium! oh yes- I still spend most of my day with oil paint and canvas, but when I need a break from the fumes I resort to my little ipad.
“The Weather Channel” oil on birch panel 20″ x 24″
“Off the Dock” pastel on sand paper for Loon Chase written by Jean Heilprin Diehl
“The Princess on the Pea” on uTales
“The Baker Dog” on uTales
Beautiful, Kathryn! And now that you’re settled with you favorite coffeehouse beverage, a latte with full fat milk . . .
And her favorite snack, carrot cake . . .
When did you decide to be an illustrator?
I have always been a painter (30 years), but had undercurrents throughout my career of wanting to illustrate children’s books.
How long did your path to your first sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?
I had a friend who was a novelist who was also interested in children’s literature. We had a lot of common childhood experiences, so she wrote a story based on one and I illustrated it. It took us a few years and many submissions before we got a publisher. My biggest hurdle was understanding the difference between a painting and an illustration.
Since hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?
I still feel like a beginner in terms of illustration and I am always looking for advice. In terms of being an artist, I would just say work hard and work everyday as self- discipline is key. Keep producing under all circumstances. And stay the course. Have one or two good critics but not too many or they will throw you off course.
What’s your favorite medium?
Oil on linen, but I also love gouache and pastel.
Where’s your favorite place to work?
My studio which is in the attic of my house.
Which illustrators inspire you?
I love Chris Van Allsburg and Maurice Sendak.
What were your favorite books as a child?
My favorite was The Valentine Cat.
How do you describe your style and has it changed throughout your career?
I have always been heavily influenced by Early Renaissance fresco painters like Piero della Francesco and Fra Angelico. My style has been described as Magic Realism.
How were you inspired to illustrate your current or upcoming release?
I have recently been inspired to do some ebooks for uTales. I have three there now that I illustrated on an ipad. It has been a lot of fun and definitely stretched my personal technology envelope. uTales is an inspiring organization to be involved with because a percentage of their profit is going to charity.
What was one of your favorite assignments?
Illustrating Loon Chase, written by Jean Heilprin Diehl
Time for the lightning round!
Do you . . .
Work from photos or imagination? Imagination and life, supplemented by photos
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? I have a picture book I have been working on for fourteen years that someone needs to take away from me!
Prefer sketching or final art? Both
Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Learning to like it….slowly
Enjoy brainstorming more or researching? Both a lot!
Read Kindle or traditional books? Both
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work? Any time
Music to listen to while drawing? Cello especially Zoe Keating
Traditional media or digital? Both
Pair of shoes? My crummy old boots
Guiltiest pleasure? Dark chocolate
Line from a movie? How about a quote from Winston Churchill “Success is not forever, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
It was great having you stop by today, Kathryn! Being MAC fans (don’t worry-we like PC’s, too), we enjoyed hearing how you use the iPad for illustrating:)