In this episode of the Arts to Hearts Podcast, Charuka Arora has a fascinating conversation with Katherine Fraser, a figurative oil painter. Throughout the interview, Katherine shares insights into her artistic process and the inspiration behind her captivating large-scale paintings, which often feature women as her subjects.
Drawing from her intuition and a diverse range of references, Katherine brings her artworks to life, exploring thought-provoking themes in her recent show called “All Fun and Games.” In this exhibition, she delves into the complexities of consumerism and reflects on the transient nature of joy.
Inspired by the theatricality of Edward Hopper’s work, Katherine is currently embarking on a creative journey centered around female empowerment and harnessing the vibrant energy within women. Her ambition is to create emotionally engaging characters that allow viewers to connect and project their own narratives onto the canvases.
Above all, Katherine finds immense fulfillment in using her artwork as a means of communication, fostering meaningful connections with others. For aspiring artists, she offers wise advice: stay focused on what brings you joy and avoid the trap of comparison.
Tune in to the Arts to Hearts Podcast to explore the captivating world of Katherine Fraser and gain a deeper appreciation for her captivating work.
Watch & Listen to this podcast Episode.
|00:00.00||Introduction to the podcast and getting to know the guest|
|01:03.22||Discussing the body of work and the show “All Fun and Games”|
|05:00.10||Exploring the process of creating characters in the paintings|
|08:07.60||Discussing the cinematic and theatrical elements in the artwork|
|09:06.91||Reflecting on the progress and challenges in the artist’s career|
|11:13.91||Exploring the themes of the artwork and the use of cats|
|15:29.25||Discussing the influence of being a woman on the artwork|
|18:51.18||Exploring the intuitive process of creating the artwork|
|21:05.56||Reflecting on the aftermath of a solo show and taking a break|
|25:33.11||Discussing the guilt and challenges of being an artist|
|28:46.96||Sharing the joy of communicating with others through the artwork|
|29:45.70||Exploring the artist’s upcoming plans and goals|
|34:06.11||Sharing advice for other artists and creatives|
|36:19.40||Rapid fire questions|
|40:41.21||Discussing upcoming events and where to find the artwork|
About Katherine Fraser
My paintings depict moments of quiet reflection and insight, of wonder, vulnerability, yearning, determination, humility, strength, and growth. I see a duality in every moment, and beauty in the tension of opposing emotions existing in a single facial expression. As every person and every experience is multifaceted, every painting is meant to express a dimensional idea.
I am fascinated by the mutability of memory, the way emotions can shape perception, and the way we unconsciously create narratives to understand our experiences and explain our identities.
I paint out of my sincere desire to respect, express, and share the tender qualities that unite us. Compassionately and with a generous heart, I seek to portray our continual need to reckon expectations with truth, and the struggles we endure to feel satisfaction with our choices. My goal is not just to make aesthetically beautiful paintings, but to create works that touch and resonate with the complexity of real-world experience.
Key Highlights From The Episode
Charuka Arora: Let’s start with knowing you better. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, what you do?
Katherine Fraser: Thank you! I’m great. I am a figurative oil painter living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been working my entire career with narrative figure paintings, creating large-scale paintings, largely of women. I don’t use real models but rather create characters that I hope will be emotionally engaging for the viewer. I aim to create an open-ended narrative around the character so that people can project their own story onto it.
Charuka Arora: I loved your show “All Fun and Games.” Can you talk a little bit about that body of work and the show?
Katherine Fraser: The show “All Fun and Games” was my most thematically linked show to date. It started from a feeling I had during the pandemic when it seemed like our values were shifting. We were all focused on things other than consumerism. But as restrictions lifted, it felt like we went back to the way things were without learning anything. This feeling inspired a painting of a girl surrounded by confetti, questioning what we were celebrating. The show explored themes of disillusionment with consumer culture and the idea of creativity as performative.
Charuka: How do you create your characters and make them look like real people?
Katherine: I start with a feeling for a face that I want to express, an emotion. I use bits and pieces of magazine photos as references and have a lot of understanding of facial anatomy. I also look at my own face for reference. As I paint the character, I feel the emotions and translate them onto the canvas.
Charuka: Your work has a cinematic and theatrical quality. Is that intentional?
Katherine: I’ve often thought of my work as more theatrical than cinematic. I use lighting that is almost like stage lighting, creating high contrast and directional lighting. I also tend to create paintings that take place on a stage-like setting rather than expansive vistas. The painter Edward Hopper has been an influence, especially his use of lighting in office interiors.
Charuka: After 25 years as an artist, what has been the hardest thing for you?
Katherine: The hardest thing has been the business side of being an artist. I have no desire to be on social media or do the marketing and sales aspect. I feel guilty about not putting more effort into the business side, but I’ve learned to redefine success as having a life that supports a daily art practice and doing something that brings me joy.
Charuka: What has been your area of interest over the years?
Katherine: I’ve been interested in exploring universal human feelings of alienation, personal struggles, and the tension of opposites. I aim to create moments that feel tender and touching, allowing people to connect with their own struggles and vulnerabilities.
Charuka: Do you think being a woman has influenced your work?
Katherine: My work is autobiographical and comes from my own experiences and feelings. Being a woman definitely influences the themes and narratives in my work. I’m currently exploring themes of female empowerment and the energy within women that can’t be suppressed.
Charuka: How do you connect with your own work and bring it to life?
Katherine: I approach each painting as a puzzle to solve. I add layers and narrative elements to the painting until it feels visually interesting and emotionally engaging. The title of the painting is the last opportunity to add another layer of narrative. I let the painting guide me and tell me what it needs.
Charuka: What is the aftermath of a solo show like for you?
Katherine: After a solo show, I need to take a significant break. I rest, travel, and do other things to give myself a chance to live life and feel inspired again. It takes time to integrate what I might want to paint next. I also need social interaction and balance between being in the studio and seeing friends.
Charuka: What do you love most about being an artist?
Katherine: The most rewarding part is being able to communicate with other people through my work. The process is not complete until the paintings go out into the world and people can interact with them. I love hearing why people connect with my work and what stories they see in it.
Charuka: What advice would you give to other artists and creatives?
Katherine: Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what makes you happy and don’t do it for sales or social media. Make what you need to make and what brings you joy.