A Personal Update & 2 Paintings for Sale

Freeman Art Studio

I don’t talk a ton about my personal life here or use this blog much to sell my art, but today will be an exception. I’ll try to keep it interesting for you.

Seventeen(ish) years ago my wife and I moved our 5 kids to Loveland, Colorado to pursue our dream of making a living as fine artists. It has been like a screaming roller coaster ride in an intermittent hailstorm. I gave it a good 15 years, full time, with mixed results due to a less-than-great economy. Finally, a couple of years ago, due to some hospital bills and other debt and some significant deaths in our families, I had to put the brakes on the art career and start working full time. Sorta.

Well, my sorta full time gig went away last December, so I am now back in the saddle as a full time artist, but with a couple of changes:

  • This time, I’ve promised my wife I’m only going to do this as long as it is working financially. We are enjoying the relief of being out of credit card debt and being on a cash-only basis. We are not going back.

 

  • My career emphasis will be different this time around. This time I will not be focusing on showing my work in art galleries, or competing in plein air painting events. (A big part of my debt accumulation had to do with constantly having to frame new work for my galleries, while sales were rarely guaranteed.)
    This time around my focus will be on public art, hopefully with an emphasis on community-building projects.

 

  • I am also trying to keep my children’s storybook business on the front burner, but people keep coming in and turning off the stove. I remain very excited about continuing to create storybooks designed to reinforce a biblical worldview in kids, it’s just going slower then I would like.

What is Public Art?
The public art arena entails competing against lots of artists and, hopefully, winning and being awarded art commissions for public spaces. I have a pretty good public art portfolio now, so I’m optimistic. But there is a lot of waiting involved.

While I wait I’ve almost accidentally had the opportunity to produce a few new paintings. Below are the first two. I’ll tell you the story behind them because I think it’s kind of amazing, and has been personally meaningful to me. I will cover this 35 year story in 2 paragraphs. (They might be long paragraphs. Names have been changed.)

The Story in Part
In 1982, my first job out of art school was as an uncertified elementary school teacher teaching 1st and 2nd grade in one small classroom, for $1000 a month, (summers off with no pay.) One of my students was a well-behaved little blue-eyed girl named Amanda. The school closed after 2 years, life happened, people moved away, and I completely lost touch with all of my students until decades later when I caught up with now-mother-of-three Amanda on Facebook. Shortly after we re-connected, Amanda tragically lost her youngest son to a prolonged illness. Her heartbroken 9 year old daughter, Zoe, wrote a story about her little brother’s life and his faith in God. Amanda and her husband commissioned me to illustrate Zoe’s book in the hope that it might encourage other kids who have experienced loss. But I never actually got meet Zoe.

Ten more years went by. Several months ago I was horrified to learn that Zoe, then 18 years old, had been struck with a related illness, during which time she lost a lot of her physical and mental capability. Eventually doctors were able to figure out a way to manage Zoe’s condition, and she has been in recovery for the past several months and is mostly back to her former sweet self. Amanda called me and Mollie to see if we would tutor Zoe for a couple of weeks of art lessons in our studio in Colorado, as Zoe had been focused mostly on dance throughout her life and it was looking unlikely that she would be able to return to dance in earnest.

Of course we agreed. So I finally got to meet Zoe, now a beautiful young woman who has walked through more than her share of tragedy. Mollie and I got to know her for a couple of lovely weeks, making art and listening music, and hanging out.

The Paintings…
These 2 paintings came out of those 2 weeks. When I teach I usually work on a painting from the same still life as the students, mostly to keep me from bugging the students too much. Zoe chose the colors and set up the still life, and did a great job on her first two oil paintings, which went home with her.

Scott Freeman, painter

“Still Life with Three Pears,” 8×10″, oil on panel.

 

I think these would make a nice set, but I’m happy to sell them separately as well. When I left off of exhibiting in art galleries, my framed 8×10 paintings, (generally the smallest size oils paintings I would sell,) started at $700 – $800. These are unframed, and since I’m currently not in a gallery I can knock off the gallery commission. If someone wants to give me $300 per painting, I would include shipping with that if shipped within the continental US. If you’re local I can deliver.

Scott Freeman, fine artist

“Still Life with Three Apples,” 8×10″, oil on panel.

Please call or email me if you’d like to respond at 970.685.2144, or scottnmollie@yahoo.com.

I do have some copies of Zoe’s hardcover storybook on which I collaborated years ago. Perhaps you know of someone for whom such a book might be helpful. The book is entitled, “Grant and His Great God.” I will send you one for $15, shipping included.

For my thoughts on still life painting, here’s a LINK to an article I posted on here a few years ago. There are lots of new folks here that may not have seen it. Thanks for signing up!

Thank you for your support!

Scott Freeman

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…And What’s the Deal with Still Life Painting Anyway?

"Still Life with Red Pears" - oil painting by Scott Freeman, 24 x 30"Of course there are many approaches to still life painting out there, many of which seek to make the genre more interesting by choosing objects that are more engaging.

“Still Life with Red Pears” – oil painting by Scott Freeman, 24 x 30″
Of course there are many approaches to still life painting out there. Non-traditional approaches seek to make the genre more interesting by choosing objects that are more engaging, or even disturbing.

I once had a high school student come through my studio when I was working on a commissioned still life. He said, “What’s the deal? Why do artists like fruit so much?” It’s actually an interesting question. In art history there is a long tradition of still life painting, just as there is a long tradition of painting nudes, and landscapes. I’ll give you my take on it. But I’ll just say up front that it’s not because we artists get turned on by fruit. I’m pretty sure that none of my artist friends are up alone, late at night, secretly gratifying their lusts over pictures of fruit on the internet. However, I will make the minor point that on some very slight level, fruit is…kind of…sexy.

As a painter, I will admit that the still life is probably my least favorite of subjects to paint. Mostly I’ve painted them because my galleries have requested them. Here’s another observation: I’ve noticed that of the still lifes I’ve sold, the buyers of which I’m aware have all been in creative or design fields, or artists in some capacity. My understanding of still life painting will suggest a reason for this.

Regarding representational painters who paint from observation, my opinion is that the still life may be as close as we come to composing with pure form and color. Fruit shows up repeatedly because fruits are simple, sumptuous forms that carry saturated color, but carry little narrative or emotional content. In other words this genre of still life painting is not about the subject matter, but about form and color. I see parallels between music and painting. Still life painting could be compared to instrumental classical music in the sense that neither contains lyrics or narrative – both simply celebrate the orchestration of raw elements, either sound or color, into a unified composition. Still life objects – fruit, fabric, and vessels – are so timeless and elemental that they are essentially inconspicuous, allowing the composition to be about the harmonization of color and form.

This could explain why still life collectors may tend to be artists or art-sensitized people – they may be more appreciative of the art of a composition for its own sake, not necessarily needing an attention-grabbing subject to draw them in.

As for fruit being sexy, it is an interesting coincidence that both fruit and flowers, (flowers being another natural element that shows up in the still life tradition,) are the most visually alluring stages of the reproductive cycle of seed bearing plants. Both are short lived, fragile, and beautiful to look at; existing to attract for the purpose of propagating life. I wouldn’t make too much of this, as I think few people actually make the connection, but it is interesting. For example, it’s interesting that there is an enormous commercial industry built around the fact that lovers give each other flowers on Valentine’s Day. We also give them to our moms who bore us, on Mother’s Day. Hmmm.

On an even more arcane and quintessential level, I wonder about the three elemental still life objects mentioned above: fruit, fabric, and vessels. Could they represent the basic stuff of human civilization: food, clothing, and human industry? Beats me. This only occurs to me as I write. I’m curious to know if that thought resonates with anyone else reading this. However, when I realize that I should add a fourth essential element which happens to be non-material – namely, light – which I’ll assert represents Spiritual life, illuminating and enlivening the physical life, I begin to think I see a pretty cool metaphor in the still life. Maybe still life painting’s enduring appeal encompasses all of these things.


“Still Life with Metal Pitcher”- oil painting by the author.
The often nondescript names of paintings of this genre underscore the idea that the painting is not about uniqueness of subject matter. Rather it is about color, form and paint handling.