Sara Freeman – Artist

Sara Freeman lives in Canberra Australia and is currently represented by Anita Traverso in Albert St Richmond, and was represented by Charles Hewitt in Sydney until they closed just recently. Her website is www.sarafreeman.cc

Veil Series VIII

What interests do you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I work as a Paper Conservator, which is interesting, and involves looking at things in great detail, and examining the backs of things as well as the front. Some very inspiring accidental marks are found. Looking through a microscope can make something ordinary into something totally amazing. Somehow this all correlates with a meditation practice. Slowing down, looking deeper into the present moment…

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I paint on board, first priming with traditional rabbit skin glue gesso, and use paints I make from bees wax, pigments and egg tempera.

How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?
I guess it is abstract. I build up layers of colour to make big immersive fields, with transparent layers that can create a sense of depth. I then spend many hours carving back into the surface to create webs of fine lines or patterns that shimmer over the surface. I like the meditative nature of repetition in mark making, and am interested to see if the space I get into while making the work is transmitted to the viewer. And it seems that it does come across. People find the work very peaceful. It’s hard to see it on the computer screen, as the subtleties of the surface are lost.

What fascinates you?
I am not sure why, but webs of white lines, as fine as spider webs, rippling and shimmering, have fascinated me for the last 15 years. It’s been interesting finding different ways to make a white line.

Veil series IV

Why are you an artist?
I always made things and enjoyed drawing and painting. My father is a painter and the smell of turpentine is a smell of home to me. I think in colours and feelings easily, and painting is more expressive than words.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
That it needs no words, or can reach beyond words, straight into the heart of the viewer – if it’s good.

Your art education was…?
Art was my favourite subject all through high school, but it took till my late thirties to feel courageous enough to go to Art School and lay my work out for critique. It’s always been very close to my heart, which makes it tender to criticism. I am lucky to have a family that encourages me to be an artist. We have writers and painters in the family so it’s normal to live an erratic creative life.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Before I went to art school I painted in oils a lot, and lived and painted in the same large room. I think I overdosed in Damar varnish and solvent fumes, as I became quite intolerant of the smells and ill for a couple of years. It did however lead me to find less toxic paints and eventually I fell in love with egg tempera. It has a lovely subtley luminous quality unlike any other paint – hovering somewhere between oils and watercolours. It is interesting how different the nature is of different paints. I don’t think many artists really think about this. They just reach for the most convenient paint type perhaps. But the quality of each is slightly different, and I think it changes the way you paint.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
Personally I am attracted to work that shows craftsmanship. Even if the work has a ‘slapped together’ aesthetic, this can be done with a certain quality that somehow makes the work have more strength, more reason to give it time looking. I am interested in the skilful use of materials. It may be out of fashion at the moment, but I think art is as much about skill as it is about concepts and ideas.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?
I went on a kind of pilgrimage to the Morandi Museum in Bologna in 2008. He is an artist who painted still life and landscapes, often the same scene from the window of the house he lived in most of his life, or the same bottles, jugs and vases, over and over. Turning them into beautiful serene pictures, using creamy paint made from earth pigments. His drawings are amazing. The museum has a room made out like his studio, very plain, with an easel and with all the bottles and vases that he collected and painted white, so he could study the shapes without being distracted by reflection. I think I admire his monastic devotion to painting, in its simplest, purified form. My studio and my life, by contrast, are filled with all the things I keep saying yes to.