Galveston Art League member Paula Freeman is known for her collages and acrylic painting and sometimes combines both in one piece of art.
She moved to Galveston full time in September 2016 but has owned a home on the island since May 2011. She has been a member of the Art League since 2016.
Freeman sells or has sold her often-whimsical pieces at the GAL Gallery, Eibands, and The Marketplace (the old peanut butter factory building). She has been a GAL Featured Artist, competed in the organization’s juried shows, and brought home a couple of honorable mention awards. “It’s still a major victory for me to be accepted,” she says. “Hope springs eternal for a real prize!”
Q: How and when did you get started in collage? Do you work in mixed-media collage, too?
A: I started collaging almost 20 years ago. I was invited to a friend’s card-making party, and I made a card that incorporated a canceled postage stamp. It sparked something in me, and I collected stamps and papers and started making art cards and small 5-by-7 collages like a woman obsessed. I have 600 still waiting for a home.
Life and work intervened when I met my husband (and we started sailing) and I took a fulltime job that demanded all of my time. Both were very positive things in my life ― love and money ― but left little time and energy for artistic endeavors. I did manage to squeeze in classes at the Glassel in Houston – design, drawing, and watercolor.
Once we moved to Galveston, I took an acrylic painting and a mixed-media class from the College of the Mainland’s [COM] 50 Plus Program. About three years ago, I started incorporating collage and acrylic paint, so I’d say most of my pieces now are mixed media, with paper, paint, stamps, and other materials that I have collected over the years.
Q: Have you done other types of artwork?
A: I’ve dabbled with Photoshop, generally (so far) to manipulate my own art rather than photos. I really don’t have an eye for photography so greatly admire those that do. I have worked with 3-D pieces like boxes, blocks, art figures.
Q: What materials do you use in your work?
A: I have collected anything that comes through the door that catches my eye, and have many boxes of images and patterns that I use. I also can’t resist a Michaels sale. I have many books of paper with patterns that are incorporated into the collages or used as underpaintings and texture. I also have a scattering of stamps ―the stamping kind ― and stamps ― the postage kind ― and stencils. I use Yes glue and Liquitex Matte Medium, as well as ModPodge for adhesives. I mostly use canvases, and prefer the gallery wrap size, although I started with the thinner canvases.
Q: Can you step through the process you use to create a collage?
A: I have used different techniques, trying new ideas that I hear or read about. Generally, I don’t pre-plan the final image. At most, I might have a very rough sketch. I like texture, so I often use layers of paint and tissue or other paper as an under painting. For instance, I’ve covered an entire canvas with random pages from The New Yorker Magazine, and then painted and collaged over it so the words are not really readable but are there. Often I slather on paint without a clear idea and let the image come to me, staring at it for days or weeks or months and work around what shows up.
I tend to work in series, such as houses, wine, coffee cups, birds. If I find an image such as a black bird I like or stumble on a composition that seems to click, I use it again. I don’t work realistically. The word that mostly comes up when people try to describe my work is quirky. When I am on a good spurt, I will spend several hours a day and work on three projects at a time. I tend to rush things sometime, so it is best to have another piece to turn to which gives the paint, glue, etc. time to dry.
I don’t generally frame the mixed-media collages. Instead I finish the edges with black or a complementary color.
Q: What's your greatest artistic challenge?
A: Time is one. I need to have a fairly large window of time to work because I am messy. I can’t stand next to an open tube of paint without being covered in it. Discipline is another. I have routines such as walking the beach, taking Zumba classes, swimming, reading the newspaper, stopping at dusk for a glass of wine on the deck which chop up the day. Plus, I have a husband and cats who need some of my attention.
Q: Is there a collage how-to book that you'd recommend?
A: I like the magazine Cloth Paper Scissors. I have several art books and many on collage, but I find that it’s generally what comes to my attention at the moment that tends to inspire. For instance, although I don’t spend a lot of time stalking Pinterest, it seems to stalk me, so every day there are images to scroll through which give me ideas and “looks” to emulate.
Q: What is your art education background and/or collage training?
A: Other than the classes at Glassel and COM, I didn’t have what you’d consider formal art training. However, I was very fortunate to be friends with Polly Hammett and Virginia Cobb, two sisters who taught workshops all over the country for many years. I was able to participate in some of their classes and critique groups, but the better training from them was to be able to spend many hours in their homes and studios, playing and working on art challenges. I’ve also taken a couple of online sessions with Ivy Newport and have tried many of her techniques. Sometimes just copying her more delicate style as far as doing even simple things such as gluing and adding paint makes me feel more painterly.
Q: How do you get ideas for pictures?
A: Sometimes I have an idea from something I saw or I have an idea for a series. For example, in my COM class I did a wine series and everyone started to bring me things relating to wine. Many times, I will let the mess I’ve made on the under painting inspire an image or an idea, and take it from there. It doesn’t always work, of course, so I’m not averse to painting over it and trying again.
Q: Do you have favorite subjects that you explore in collage?
A: See answers above… also, because I live in Galveston, sea life such as turtles, octopus, mermaids, and boats. One can’t live here and not throw in an Elissa or Pleasure Pier image every now and then.
Q: Why is Galveston Art League important to you and other area artists?
A: Since we owned the house in Galveston, we attended every ArtWalk we could make, and we always liked the Galveston Art League because of the friendliness of the people and the variety of the art. Once we moved here full time, it was a fabulous way to put a toe into the Galveston art community. I’d never shown my art to the public, just to friends and fellow artists in the critique group. I volunteered to be part of the hanging crew with Leroy LeFlore, and found that to be a way to get to know some of the members and to feel like a part of the process. It is also an excellent way to become familiar with the artists and their art styles. I believe it is an excellent venue for artists to exhibit.