Kerin Freeman is a Hauraki portrait artist of British heritage,
living in New Zealand for just over thirty years
I was encouraged to be creative as a child by my mother who was artistic herself. Our shared passions were art and books. Art showed me a more exciting, magical world that helped me escape reality.
Over the years I have worked in many spheres with people from all walks of life. I became fascinated with who they were, where they came from, how they lived, their culture, the various languages they spoke, and what shaped them into becoming who they were and what makes us ‘us’.
I am never without a pencil or paper – landscapes, old beat up cars, houses, but I always ended up finding that it was people who fascinated me the most, and trying to capture the essence of them, in a kind, calm inviting, easy going way. I love to travel and experience various cultures and learning new languages, and want to capture the real person underneath the veneer of what they show the world.
I had not been long in New Zealand when my ideal job turned up. An animation company in Auckland was looking for an animator – it said ‘if you can draw you can animate’. I believed I was the person they were looking for. It was a Steven Spielberg production of Tiny Toons. I started out painting cells and ended up in my own office animating various characters, with a mirror by my side to capture the ways our mouth works when speaking. My lunch break was taken up sitting on an upturned waste basket watching John, who was in charge of the art department, and had worked for Walt Disney himself in America. I found the characters he created out of nothing magical. I’ve never forgotten his wise words of wisdom “So what if you have to throw your design, your drawing, in the waste bin – don’t hate it or think you are a failure, take it as a learning curve and strive to do better next time.”
I gave up working for others in jobs that did not inspire me and became a full time portrait artist. I have entered competitions and won awards, sold my work to an art gallery and collectors, and taken a number of commissions. I have given talks in art classes and at the local college, designed children’s T-shirts for a manufacturing company, and billboards for a company selling beauty products. I am self-taught in acrylics, charcoal and graphite and oils, take commissions. After completing a portrait the owner came to collect it and, after being surprised and delighted by it, he said “You could put that painting among hundreds of photos of me and when someone’s asked to pick out the one that resembles me the most, they would pick yours. You’ve captured me.” Those words make what I do so worthwhile.