Artist Interview - Kathe Fraga

We live on Bainbridge Island, Washington and love it. It’s a half-hour ferry ride from Seattle and filled with everything we love—forests, beaches, wild blackberries, a thriving arts community, great friends and neighbors and the best small town 4th of July Parade down our one Main Street that you could ever wish for. I grew up on the move—we lived on both coasts of the US, in South America and Europe, and the colors, patterns and cultures of those places have certainly influenced my art.

Our home on Bainbridge Island is also my studio. I live and work in a 1905 beach stone and grey shingled house built by Col. Warren Gazzam, who established one of the first ferry boat fleets on the Island. It’s dark, moody and filled with all sorts of stories from the past-a huge influence on my work that draws from the romance of time gone by, layers of patterns, colors and motifs.

We start the day with morning walks with the pups, rain or shine. through the dark mossy forests or along the grey sandy shoreline. It’s always a thrill to collect small shards of blue and white Chinoiserie pieces, hidden amongst the grey rock and pebbles—a lovely reminder of our Island’s history and the generations who came before. It sets the mood for the rest of the day to come—painting and thinking about history, stories of the past, old garden blooms and vintage china patterns, colors of the woods and the sea.

There hasn’t been a time in my life when I wasn’t drawing, painting, creating. I come from a long line of women who knit, crocheted, embroidered, quilted and sewed. They had a love and eye for color. That’s what I enjoy the most about painting—the reaction of color to color, the unexpected pairings, the surprise patterns.

Slow and steady wins the race, every paintings that “feels good”, every time someone mentions how much they like your work—those are the successes. Years ago, I received an email that moves me so much: my work was purchased by Swedish Hospital in Seattle for public display. A woman wrote to me that she had been in a waiting area, dreading an upcoming procedure and how much sitting there and immersing herself in the colors and patterns and imagery of my painting had calmed her…I count that as one of my biggest successes.

I’m inspired by the romance of vintage French wallpapers and patterns and Chinoiserie Ancienne. I’m in awe of Marc Chagall for his romantic images and colors, Paule Marrot for her use of pink, Hokusai’s wood block prints, Pierre Bonnard for again, colors and Mary Cassatt for her stories.

My earliest memory of creating art is the thrill of a new box of Crayolas and getting to work! Now I love acrylics, gold ink and watercolors.

When I first stared creating art, I started off madly in love with the soft pale colors of pink, blue, green and yellow. While I still love these colors, my paintings, over time, have taken on a decidedly bolder look with reds, greens, oranges and lime greens joining the party. There are more combining geometrics, there are more patterns that I like to include with softer images. This year, I’m introducing a brand new series that I’m so excited about: The Kimono Series, with a variety of vintage-inspired Asian woman and kimono prints-debuting at Museo Gallery, Langley, Washington, Sept. 2016.

I love all of my cards published by Calypso! I couldn’t be more thrilled with the collection of my Chinoserie inspired art, the quotes that Calypso selected, the colored envelopes and the paper stock

Click here to see Kathe Fraga's entire collection!