Freeman White graduated from The Learning Connexion in 2001 with the Diploma of Art and Creativity (Honours). He has been painting and sustaining his creative lifestyle whilst renovating a house in the Hawkes Bay.
What have you been doing since graduating from the Learning Connexion?
I have been working as a full-time artist as well as renovating my house in Napier. I taught part-time at TLC for a while and then in 2006 I won the Adam Portrait Award.
How would you describe your lifestyle?
I have an enjoyable lifestyle, but if you want to be a full-time artist you have to work hard and be good at budgeting!
How does creativity relate to the house you have renovated in Hawkes Bay?
I look at the house as an evolving work of art in its own right. It is also where I work from and I have just recently finished renovating the back of the house and converting that space into a painting studio.
How do you sustain yourself as an artist?
I paint landscapes and portraits and also do some film jobs. I have at least one solo show per year and have to paint commissions.
Can you talk about your success in the portrait award?
Winning the Adam Portrait Award in 2006 was the most definitive point in my early artistic career! This legitimised my work and allowed me to get my name recognised. It also opened up a number of opportunities such as my painting residency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
What other competitions have you participated in and what results did you get?
I haven’t entered any other comps other than the Adam Portrait Award. But I have had work in every show since I won…it’s probably about time I entered the Wallace Art Award. But before I won the Adam Portrait Award I entered quite a few competitions like the Norsewear Art Award, the Hawkes Bay Art Review and had a crack at the Wallace with mixed success. Sometimes I would get in; others I would have my work rejected!
Have you had the experience of exporting and exhibiting work overseas? Can you talk about that?
I have had several exhibitions abroad; I have shown in Germany, the USA and Scotland. It’s a real hassle getting work overseas and expensive! Most times I have rolled the paintings up and taken them myself or had someone overseas re-stretch them for me. This is really not ideal, however I could not afford to send work any other way.
Have you done any residencies?
I have done several artist residences in Edinburgh Scotland, Key West Florida, USA and in the Mosel Valley in Germany. I have always found these experiences inspiring and they always produce definitive work. There is no better way to travel really. I love doing residencies, in fact this year I’m off to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to paint portraits for two months. It’s like a dream come true.
Can you talk about having a gallery represent you? How does that work for you?
No comment...ha! Well I think at the end of the day, if a gallery is going to take such a high commission from the sale of paintings then they should really be working hard to promote the artist and their work. Showing with a top dealer gallery is very difficult as they hardly ever take on new artists so if you can get into a good gallery then it is also very important that you hold up your end of the bargain as well! You really need to show with galleries in order to build a professional profile. It’s great if you can find a dealer that you can build a strong respectful relationship with.
How do you make decisions about your creative path. Do you plan ahead much?
Yes, I have to plan ahead as painting a series of works for a show always involves a lot of time management.
What creative plans have you got for the future?
I plan to stay alive for as long as I can! I plan to keep painting and progressing as an artist. That’s really important for me, to feel as though there is still improvement. I never want to become complacent.