Kerin Freeman is a Hauraki portrait artist of British heritage, having lived in New Zealand for just over thirty years. Here, she discusses her love of art, travel aspirations, the importance of family and friends, and of being an artist
How many years has it taken for you to develop your career? The beginning of my career started many years ago when I was a child. My mother was very artistic and encouraged myself and my sister to read and draw from an early age. Nothing beat sitting at the dining table with my paper or colouring in books and coloured pencils, or just a pencil in my hand – time flew by and I was totally engrossed. Seeing pictures come alive on the paper was exciting, reality disappeared and a new world began. That feeling has never left me over the years when I pick up a pencil, mix colours, buy brushes or paints or canvases. The years have not always been affluent for me but whatever I was going through I made sure I had enough paint, paper or canvas and pencils. And books. I am obsessed with books. I’ve designed children’s T-shirts for a clothing manufacturer, and large billboards for a beauty company I worked for, entered art competitions and won awards. I even worked as an animator for an animation company in New Zealand on Tiny Toons. The man who ran the art department once worked for Walt Disney himself – so I thought who better to learn from and spent many a lunch break sitting in his office watching him as he worked
Who are your biggest influences?
Van Gogh - his vibrant landscapes, the way he used paint on canvas
Rembrandt - his paintings tell stories, shows people in various moods, great detail towards the world, and used great details in his work
Vermeer - The Girl With The Pearl Earring – his attention to detail and light
Pieter Brugel - great composition, I get a sense of the historic period of the time and of people, what they wore, working the fields, the surrounding countryside, the seasons
Claude Monet – his amazing use of colour and light, how he captured nature in its glory
Edward Hopper - his iconic Nighthawks - I love the realism of his work and use of light, the emotions of people
Andy Warhol - he said that art shouldn’t be for the select few but for the mass of American people. Art should be available for everyone. Love the use of colour and design
Rene Magritte – The surrealism of his art, taking ordinary objects and people and adding fantasy
Someone has just given you the perfect gift. What is it?
A trip to France. I am British born and was very lucky to live in Belgium for 4yrs when I was in my 20s. I immediately fell in love with the country and, being so near other countries, we traveled all over. I loved the aromatic smells, Belgium’s history, the people, the French language – the food and chocolate, especially the chocolate, my downfall. Visiting Paris I became captivated by the beauty of the city – especially its history and the beautiful architecture and bridges – apart from loving art and books, I am mad keen on history. Underneath the Eiffel Tower I made a promise to myself – I will return – I am still waiting for a chance to do that. I think I must have been French in another life
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Follow your heart and do what you love. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up and there was no time to indulge in my attending art college. I was sent to an all girls secretarial college and have spent many years working in various offices, and apart from about three companies, I hated it. The time I did get to myself I painted, allowing me to tune out from everyday life. Now, I just paint. So yes, do what you love, whatever it is, and you’ll be happy