Bainbridge Island-based artist Kathe Fraga has been on our
radar for years. Her gorgeous Chinoiserie-inspired paintings can be found in a
number of art galleries here in the Pacific Northwest, as well as in public and
private collections all over the US. Recently we have added Kathe’s new collection
of decorative pillows to our showroom in Langley, Washington, as well as to our
website. These handcrafted silk or linen pillows are inspired by Kathe’s original paintings
in Chinoiserie style that combines the visual appeal of Asian hand-painted silk
art with the look of vintage frescoes from grand old Parisian mansions.
Today we are excited to interview Kathe about her creative
process, her inspirations, and her new KF Home Pillow Collection.
Tell us about your background as an artist. Have you tried your hand at
any other mediums besides painting?
I come from a long line of creative women. My great
grandmother knit, crocheted, quilted, tatted; my grandmother had a keen eye for
color and design, as did my mother and aunt. Painting, drawing and creating is
something I’ve always loved. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed making quite a
diverse collection of art - everything from beaded doll jewelry to custom ordered
fabric mache dog sculptures to brightly colored cat paintings! My husband Jeff
and I owned Gallery Fraga on Bainbridge Island for many years. It was an absolute delight to work with so
many different artists and be surrounded by paintings and sculptures, artists
and collectors on a daily basis! It was here that I first introduced my
Chinoiserie-inspired paintings, the series born out of, again, my color DNA,
love of pattern and all things pretty.
did you develop your interest in Chinoiserie-style painting?
Growing up, I had the opportunity to live in a variety of
places that have influenced my inspiration and the direction of my art. From a
young age, I have lived in South America, both coasts of the U.S. and in
Europe. The stained glass and gilded interiors of old world Quito, the pinks
and golds and pastels of Paris, the bright reds of Copenhagen, the easygoing
style of beach towns in California and the buttoned up vibe of New York have
all been a part of my direction. But there was one moment that had an enormous
impact - when my father returned from an overseas trip to Japan. He surprised
my mother with the most beautiful dark green silk kimono jacket with the most
exquisite Chinoiserie patterns in bright orange, red, pink, blue - an unexpected
pairing of hues and motifs and I was in love! It opened the door to the joy of
combining lovely dense patterns and blocks of colors, which you’ll see in
many of my paintings.
Original paintings by Kathe Fraga on display at Museo Art Gallery in Langley, WA
Tell us about your creative process. How do you draw inspiration for
your paintings? Does your home base in the Pacific Northwest influence your
Color reacting to color is a big influence for me. It’s
exciting, for example, to paint a bold wide swath of red and then layer it with
bright orange and then add a subdued branch of soft little pink blossoms to
create a surprising mix of modern and sweet small detail. Nature inspires me.
From the overwhelming beauty of the blooming Yoshino cherry trees at the
University of Washington, to the multi-colored little forest mushrooms that
spring up along our wooded trails in the fall, the colors of the Pacific
Northwest are wonderful inspirations. (That green moss in our Island forests is
the most spectacular green ever!) Our Island beaches, rich with oyster and clam
and mussel shells, also hold hidden treasures. Soft and gently sea-washed china
shards reflecting our history and the many generations that have come before:
we find blue and white Chinoiserie patterned pieces, pastel glass in light
blue, purple and pink, white china with little blooms. I bring these pieces
back to the studio, study their pattern, think of their history. And then I
paint, layer upon layer of color, story, wee little florals.
Why did you decide to create pillows with your painting designs?
I love to share my art in a variety of ways, and the new
pillow collection is just the beginning. Greeting cards, based on my paintings,
are available at a variety of locations. Calypso cards, Papyrus cards, Trader
Joes and Graphique de France also offer my card designs. We’re looking forward
to wallpapers, bedding, fabrics - stay tuned!
What's next for you - any upcoming art shows, new product designs, etc.?
2017 will be exciting! I’ve been working on a major
collaboration with an international cosmetic firm, developing their holiday
packaging/color palette featuring my paintings. I’m also looking forward to my
solo show with Roby King Galleries (Bainbridge Island), in July 2017. And I’m
especially excited to have the new pillow collection at Artisan Crafted Home!
It’s an honor to have my work featured with so many incredibly talented
In addition to Kathe Fraga’s pillow collection we feature at
ArtisanCraftedHome.com, her Chinoiserie-inspired paintings can be seen in a
number of private and public collections including Swedish Hospital, Island
Hospital and Group Health. Museo Gallery (Langley, WA) Roby King Galleries
(Bainbridge Island, WA) and Ann Connelly Fine Art (Baton Rouge, LA) currently
represent Kathe’s art. The Inn at Langley recently commissioned Kathe to design
fine wine list books for their world renowned dining room.
Find out more about Kathe’s art on her website, and connect
with her on Twitter and Facebook.