Monday, February 7, 2011

in the atelier…with Kathe Fraga

In the ate­lier this week is the lovely Kathe Fraga. I 'met' her on Twit­ter and was stuck by the rich col­ors and Old World feel of her amaz­ing paint­ings. To me, each one evokes a small piece of a big­ger pic­ture, as if a larger story is loom­ing in the back­ground. And because art is so per­sonal, every per­son who sees (or is lucky enough to own) one of these paint­ings can imag­ine their own story. Kathe leaves room for a per­sonal expe­ri­ence — what more can you ask from an artist?

"Love Song" will be fea­tured in the March 2011 issue of Seat­tle Magazine

In her own words, I present Kathe Fraga:

1)   What path led you to your life as an artist?

There were two paths in my life…I love to write and I love to draw. I was doing both at a very young age—little illus­trated books, jour­nals with draw­ings, art projects with poetry.  I thought I would be an author as a “grown up” but as time went on, I became enchanted with the wild and very col­or­ful world of adver­tis­ing. That was my career path for a long time—I worked in Seat­tle, Hon­olulu and L.A., and I think that being able to write while being a visual per­son helped me enor­mously. I really got back into my art side when my chil­dren were born—homemade Valen­tines (never store bought), papier mache projects, vol­un­teer­ing in the class­room for any­thing arty—I real­ized how much I missed cre­at­ing art. I’ve never given up writing—mostly “humor writ­ing” (I need to send you my very help­ful arti­cle enti­tled “Kathe Fraga’s Top Ten or Eleven House Clean­ing Tips That Work For Her”) but paint­ing is a pas­sion and my fam­ily puts up with the splat­ters and spills all over the house—mostly pink hues.

"Sakura Kisses" is part of the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion at Seattle's Swedish Hospital

2)   Please describe three sources of inspi­ra­tion for your art.

I spent “grow­ing up” years in South Amer­ica, Europe and both coasts—my father was in the Navy. I think the absolute over-the-top grandeur of the gilded and stained glass win­dows of the churches of Quito made a huge impres­sion.  Liv­ing in France and expe­ri­enc­ing  Europe and its beauty—old, decay­ing, historic—this mem­ory guides me every day in my color choices and how I like my paint­ings to appear worn and with a story—like they were plas­tered pan­els in an old French man­sion and had been cut away and pre­served just before the wreck­ing ball hit. My pinks, oranges and pur­ples, these are the pig­ments of the ancient times and sto­ries. Not just for princesses and fairy tales—although there’s noth­ing wrong with that. Lastly, I grew up with par­ents who just embraced color in their lives, from the way they dressed to the way they dec­o­rated their home. (Even though Dad’s lime green and bright yel­low sports coats could be embarrassing.)

"Paris Sun­set"

3)   What was the last item you brought home from a trip? Where did you go, and why that item?

Whid­bey Island, Wash­ing­ton is one of our favorite “close-by” des­ti­na­tions that we love. A cou­ple of fer­ries from Bain­bridge Island and there’s the tiny sea­side town of Lan­g­ley. I’ll tell you a secret—one of the best thrift shops is in Lan­g­ley! “Good Cheer” is a trea­sure trove of won­drous fab­u­lous­ness. One of the last lucky finds we just had to have is a clock that is held on both sides by two white and light blue cir­cus ele­phants. Pink shades are also involved. It works! We have it above our bed and we call it “Remem­ber the Happy Times.” (We also have a taxi­dermy cat named “Mort” from Dey­rolle in Paris, but that’s another story.)

"Chez Nous"

4)   Please fill in the blank: If I was not an artist, I’d be:

A writer—trying to get pub­lished in the “Shouts and Mur­murs” sec­tion of The New Yorker. I sub­mit­ted a piece called “Fly Strips and Cham­pagne” recently and they  rejected it  “despite its obvi­ous merit”.

"La Belle Saison

5)   What advice do you have for peo­ple who are afraid to buy art?

If you love it, buy it. You’ll never regret it—and the couch you were try­ing to match it to will be headed for the Good­will in a few years anyway.

brand new — "When Love Blooms"

I hope you enjoyed learn­ing more about Kathe and her work. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @kathefraga or see more at

Kathe will also be hav­ing a solo show at Pacini Lubel Gallery in Seat­tle in June, a great oppor­tu­nity to meet this tal­ented artist!

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  1. […] This post was men­tioned on Twit­ter by Judy Moore, Artist Joyce Goden, Kathe Fraga, LeeAnne Michay­luk, Kathe Fraga and oth­ers. Kathe Fraga said: Wow Cyn­thia! TYSM!! RT @exuberanthome: New blog fea­ture "In the atelier"…with @kathefraga #art #design #in […]

  2. kathe fraga says:

    Thank you so much Cyn­thia for fea­tur­ing my work! Your ques­tions were just ter­rific and I had a great time answer­ing them. I love your blog!

  3. Cynthia says:

    Thanks Kathe! I think it's impor­tant for peo­ple to under­stand more about art and the cre­ative process. And your work is so beau­ti­ful, it is my plea­sure to fea­ture it.

  4. […] is such an honor to be included on Cynthia’s beau­ti­ful blog. I just loved the ques­tions Cyn­thia asked me! Hope you enjoy the interview. : […]