York Public Library Talk

York Public Library – Kevin S. Freeman Paintings

I like being in my studio, mostly. I like being alone for hours to move paint around on a rectangle. When I look around, at the world in general, I know that I am very privileged. The daily news continuously reminds us of the horrors others endure without end. Humanity has a very dark side. Other than being informed, I have been spared. How could this be?

So, I paint with my heart as much as I can. I paint with my soul. I often wish these were the only two brushes I had. But they are not enough. They cannot express, as a duo, the depth of expression I reach for. Hence I complicate things with intellect, gesture, contrast and ego. Occasionally, I have small breakthroughs but understand I am mostly a singularity. Nonetheless, I am encouraged by the possibility of invention, making something from nothing, in a process that allows me great freedom of spirit.

This show has given me the opportunity to share with others the results of my attempts of expression. Of what it means to be alive, with two hands and a few tubes of paint. It all seems so petty in a way. The world, my small world, is such a miracle laden marvel in spite of the darkness. Nature is far beyond my comprehension. Shifting, shimmering light creates splendid forms as bird calls and breezes drift my spirit into awe.

The following video was recorded by my son, Nathaniel Noton-Freeman at the York Public Library on May 16, 2017. This was at the opening of Kevin Freeman Paintings. You can find the text of the talk below.

Kevin Freeman Paintings will be on view for the rest of June 2017. Find hours here: York Public Library.

Thanks to everyone for coming tonight!

I would especially like to thank Janice Plourde for inviting me to have this show and for her help in putting it all together.

And thank you Anastasia Martens for helping install the work. Your keen eye is much appreciated.

And thank you to my wife Sandra, for helping to get all this work together and helping with the installation and encouraging me in life and my dreams.

And thanks to the art committee and the York Public Library staff for being so helpful and friendly.

I created this slideshow to include drawings and photos and some additional paintings which are a very integral to my process.

I don’t spend much time talking about art. Mostly, I just paint and draw and grab my camera when going out for a walk.

But as my art school friends will attest, back in the day we had plenty to talk about. Art, artists, art history, critics, critiques, instructors motives, fellow students…it all consumed us. One of my favorite quotes, discovered back then and still is was from the art historian Kenneth Clarke, “Modern art is a vast and expensive joke.”

My roommates and I loved how this contradicted the serious assumptions of art which was espoused by our instructors.

Even before the ties of academia had been cut I had no problem dispelling the theories and dogmas that were imposed upon me.

Through it all, I have felt that art is a celebration of the individual, first. Each artist creates according to their own inspiration and necessities.

For me, the most significant aspect of being a painter is that I have an opportunity to express my uniqueness. We don’t come into this world with a manual listing our uniquenesses. As humans, we carry many similarities, physically and behaviorally. As children we mostly try to hide our differences and are terrified at not being like everyone else.

Successfully expressing my being on a two dimensional surface with color can be complicated and on the other hand it can be so simple. And what does success mean anyways? Ego, insecurity and self doubt all coalesce with confidence and audacity, and a desire to portray myself in my truest form.  And through this practice I have arrived exactly here, at the York Public Library.

This is the first time my paintings have been seen in such a public venue for which I am excited and very grateful.

The loftiest idea I have is that I might create something that others recognize as valid to them, and with all humbleness, that my efforts may benefit their lives in a good way. But I am at the mercy of the powers of the universe and my imagination.

The process of painting becomes melded with my spirituality. It occasionally becomes entirely vital to my life and from it, I am left with a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive. Whether pretty or ugly, and whether others desire it or discard it I am making an honest attempt at being me.

The process of painting, for me, means cultivating an open mind, clearing thoughts away and being at one with a pallet full of paint. This process is a practice like mediation. I strive for mindfulness and the grace of irony while completely intrigued at the process and potential.

I often begin a painting by embracing the unknown. I am so compelled by making a new discovery that I will risk everything. The bigger the risk the bigger the gain. But what am I trying to gain? As I stumble along through life I so stumble along in paint. Dreaming of the ultimate combination of form and color. Reaching out with each loaded brush full of paint as if finally, this mark will do the trick.

Confidence and insecurity alternate frequently as I search deeper into my being. I try to find a way in. Into myself and into the painting. I grasp at any hint, relinquishing thoughts, scolding myself for being rational, scraping off something that would otherwise be just right and finally imagining the painting an extension of my existence and painting out everything that is not real to me.

My spiritual appetite has always been significant. I became a lay student of theosophy and developed a strong attraction to Buddhism. Naively, at first I tried to shake away my ego. I imagined living in a remote cell as a hermit or in a monastery, somewhere in Tibet. There I would surely cut to the chase and become enlightened. Well, that hasn’t happened.

I read books of timeless wisdom such as the EChing and the Tao Te Ching.

In Chapter 2, line 6 of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “Therefore the sage keeps to the deed that consists of taking no action and practices the teaching that uses no words.”

NO ACTION how can this be, what does it mean. How can you be alive and take no actions??

I love Loa Tzu… he is such a prankster, yet he gives us insights to the way. He tells us if we search for enlightenment we will never find it. But if we don’t search, it is ours.

I aspired to adopt this philosophy into life and painting. The Tao is packed with ironies.

Here is another great one…

Again by Loa Tzu…

Rid yourself of desires in order to observe their secrets;

But always allow yourself to have desires in order to observe their manifestations.

I interpreted all this to mean that if I could be in harmony with myself, I would be also with the universe. I would have no causal effect but exist in divine ubiquity. Nothing positive, nothing negative, perhaps perfection or enlightenment. I practiced this in the studio and still do.

I am inspired by nature. Actually, awe inspired. Have you ever tried looking at the world as a flat plane? Have you ever gone into the woods and forgot that you are looking at objects? At trees, rocks, foliage, branches, moss? And just look at the light…let your mind go.

Everything will flatten out into a two dimensional plane. Forget about the objects, just let go. Everything becomes colors. It is awesome. And when you use this method of perception in painting everything becomes color relationships. Everything is dependent on everything else.

You need to remember to switch your brain back when you begin walking as this two dimensional vision will provide no depth perception.

This way of looking at things is amazing. Everyplace is a great masterpiece just waiting to be painted. Large and ambitious paintings. Nature and observation is so inspiring and it was pretty much the foundation for painting until Jackson Pollack famously said, “I am nature.”

Until he said this people mostly painted external stimuli. Pollack came along and said, I am changing all that. And he did. In the 20th century painting changed forever.

I love this. A huge door opened for the self and its relevance. At the same time a new technique was born for applying paint. Just throw it.

Some of my paintings are inspired by looking inside, others looking outside. I truly love the landscape. Others by emotional impulses such as tragedy. One of the paintings in this show, called “Friends Forever,” was a meditation on gratitude for the many friends I have. It just kind of created itself, as I watched.

I am so grateful for the many friendships I still have from art school. My friends and I shared an experience and can relate to each other in a very unique way. And through this group, which has grown to include many others I am continuously inspired and encouraged.

Creativity led by the imagination is available to us all. We each have different approaches and different results and I believe that is what makes art, at any level, so compelling.

Again, thank you all for coming and for the wonderful support. If anyone has questions I will try to answer.