’tis the season – Red inspires

We love the holidaze here–the old house has plenty of nooks and crannies to decorate with hand cut snowflakes, vintage ornaments, and lots and lots of old Santa mugs.

And Christmas plates. Love old Christmas plates-each one different, each one so special–it’s how we decorate the dinner table Christmas Eve.

In the middle of the ribbons and the wrapping paper and the glitter and the glue and bows and tags, I’m painting. It’s chaos of course but the season is so kindred to my paintings and what I want to express with my work: when I clomp up the old dark stairs to the attic and look around the cobwebs and squint in the half light to see faded labels from last year letting us know where all the treasures are–Santa photos, ribbons, the family ornament collection, Nana’s hand-crocheted little Christmas doll dresses–I’m reminded once again of what inspires my work. It’s this: the old stories, the generations, the love of many families in a home, many colors, many wallpapers, much love. My work is about old walls and discovery and layers of love and time.

Inspired by red, one of my latest paintings – “I Always Knew,” 36×24″ – available at Roby King Gallery on Bainbridge Island.

Wishing you a wonderful and warm holiday!

High Point Market and more news!

It’s been a busy time in the studio! I’m working on three new 12×12″ paintings for Roby King Gallery’s December “Small Works” group show–two are finished, so here’s a sneak peek!

My cards will be carried for the first time by Museo Gallery in Langley on Whidbey Island. They will be part of Museo’s December gift show. Here is the collection…I now have two sets of 8 images each. Thank you to Sandra at Museo! (The cards are also available at a variety of locations and can be ordered directly, please click here for more details.)


And this week I discovered that my work was shown at High Point Market in North Carolina, one of the largest design shows in the country. “Song of Celebration” is 36×48, so it’s a biggie! It was an honor that it was included from one of my art publishers, Artaissance.

Last but not least, the full size fabric samples based on my paintings are due to arrive next week–stay tuned! Here come the pillows!

Thanks for reading my blog–I really appreciate it! Hope you’re enjoying Fall!

Inspirations, Colors, Green Doors, Ireland and Fabric

Sorry I’ve been gone so long–the studio is a funny thing. You can enter in the morning, paint and paint and then stand back and paint some more and all of a sudden, it’s night outside. Where does the time go? Reds and blues and purples, oranges and greens, they’ve all swirled and whirled around on one canvas and then another and then poof! It’s another day.

I leave the studio to take long breaks with my pups. I love getting them all ready to go and out we head, rain or shine–mostly rain these days–up the steep hills, through the Island’s dark green forest paths. Fall is showing its colors and it is amazing to see the changes. I wish I could save each and every brilliantly hued leaf–how each leaf slowly fades is so beautiful. The hydrangeas too, at first bright vibrant blue, then soft pink and lastly a faded sepia toned lace form–so delicate, so breathtaking.

But I recently left the studio and canvases behind and traveled to a magical land: Ireland. I did not know what to expect going there but it was wondrous in every way. The people, the colors, the misty weather, the aged and crusted old buildings. The visit inspired so much!

There’s news now to share… I’ve launched a new set of the cards, based on my paintings…a second set of a collection of eight. Thank you for your kind comments! And the new fabric samples have arrived! Pillows, table linens and more are in the works.

Hope this post finds you well and happy and enjoying fall!

Studio Sneak Peeks

It’s been day after day of storms here on the island–grey misty mornings interrupted with wind gusts and hail, power outages (typical!) and the occasional breathtaking rainbow. Good painting weather! The fire is lit, the scented candle works its magic in the dark front hall and I work, glancing up every now and then to watch the fat splat of the rain spatter against the house’s old windows. They’ve seen stormy times or two in their over 100 years.

There are tiny bits of color attempting to remind Mother Nature that it’s Spring, hello! The big old camellia hedge started off with a good effort–a pretty little grouping of pink blooms at the tippy top where the first sun warms the beginning buds–but the roar of the brittle cold sea wind and pelting of hard icy snow have beaten them back…pink turned to brown and now sadly, one giant has bent and toppled to the ground. Not sure if we can save it but we’re trying!

The bulbs that we planted in the old blue clawfoot tub (the one that we found hidden and upside down in the woods last year and moved to the little garden in the back of the house) are all starting to pop up, nice and green and straight and tall. That’s the good news! And so I continue to paint, orange and pink and red, grateful for color inside the house at least!

Two smaller canvases are  just finished with something new. Each has a bit of  floral paper from a vintage Chinese lantern. One bloom pink, the other bloom purple. Like the delicate paper parasols we cherish, Chinese lanterns,romantic and joyous, have a special spot in the studio. I try to imagine their stories, their parties, their celebrations, all hung in a row on a pretty ribbon somewhere over a table in a yard, softly glowing in the darkness of the evening, shining down on people below, gathered, laughing, dancing. (And there would be no rain in this scenario.)

The lanterns’ patterns now peek out from the background of these small paintings, hidden a bit by layers of blue and green paint. They share the space with plump small birds, vines and wee speckles of gold. They will be part of the group garden-themed April show at Museo in Langley.

Another item new in the studio: the March issue of Seattle magazine. It’s an honor to have “Love Song,” 60×48, botanical and red, featured in John Stevens’ column Classic Finds + Design. Page 6, Northwest Home section.

And lastly, I’m painting every day getting ready for my show in June at Pacini Lubel Gallery in Seattle. Orange has made itself very much at home on the canvases lately, and of course birds and berries, colors of all hues and new for me–more patterns.

Collecting beach glass and blue and white Asian porcelain from the island’s rocky beaches is a favorite activity (rain or shine!) and their colors and designs have inspired a new direction: their sea-washed faded patterns have begun to show up on the canvases, hidden among the nestling birds and blooms.

Here’s a sneak peek! Thanks for visiting.

What I saw in the City: stepping outside the studio to pattern, color and glorious chaos.

Bainbridge Island is a quiet little spot–all green and blue and mostly grey, given the misty rain and fog that seems to hug us all near year round. There’s a bright lime green spot on my car…happy moss. I love the dark foresty ways of the place, with evergreens all mixed in with bronzy madronas and pine coney firs. The whitecaps, egged on by the sudden wild wind, can seem so fierce till you squint in a bit and see a flock of fat happy ducks riding the waves, up and down, like a carnival ride. I light a fire in the old beach stone fireplace and watch the fat drip drip of clear sweet scented rain splatter against the old mottled windows–it sets the mood as I paint, color, pattern, texture on frescoed bright canvases filled with birds and flowers, vines and abundance.

But sometimes I want to see more than the soft greens and blues of the island…I take a ferry, like I did today with friends, and wander into the city streets of Seattle where there is so much happening, so much going on. Soaking it all in: a huge demonstration with voices and flags and signs; skateboarders popping in up and around the curbs, the fabrics, colors, combinations of fashion on the streets, boarded up old windows, faded brick, taxis, just stuff, colorful stuff everywhere, everyone doing something, going somewhere somehow. Inspiring!

It was a fun chat on Twitter today during @abcddesigns and @jonathanlegate  #DesignTV conversation about how travel–around the block or by plane/train/ferry/bus can introduce such new impressions and ideas. I think that is so true.

This new series of paintings reflect the cities: the patterns, the colors, the secret courtyards, the gardens, the cathedrals, the outdoor markets, the fabrics, the tiles, and the passion of the places I have loved.

If you’d like to see them in person, they’re in Seattle’s old and historic cobblestoned Pioneer Square at Pacini Lubel Gallery.

Kathe Fraga - Dream Garden
Kathe Fraga - Morning Light
Kathe Fraga - When Love Blooms
Kathe Fraga - Joyful Garden

Setting the Table: Apple Blossoms and Chocolate

Metal sculpture by Garth Edwards

Eeek! Three days before Thanksgiving–my favorite holiday in the world for entertaining and putting on a big  grand dinner party for friends and family–the power goes out. Not just a blip, not for a few hours. The electricity vanished, gone, kaput for almost 48 hours. The old stone house shivered as the temperatures outside plummeted…even the heavy dark velvet drapes we put up over the west-facing windows a few years ago (to keep out the summer heat!) could not capture and share any warmth. Cold hurts and it bites and it’s the oddest feeling to be “inside” and feel as though you’re “outside.”

A few gas burners on the range kept the kitchen warm, a chandelier with candles gave us light in the the wintery darkness. But Thanksgiving dinner? It had to be postponed, but not forgotten. A day after the Big Day, (two days after the power came on), Thanksgiving Dinner was on.

Rumor has it that a traveling monk built the big dark dining room table that has sat here in the the dining room since 1905. It’s wide and thick and massive and not for the soft spoken or the shy. You’ve got to basically yell your stories out and share your toasts loudly to be part of the fun.  It’s the Turkey Day (and every other day) Gathering Spot– a giant canvas, a constant inspiration for a special time of gathering loved ones all together.

This year, the storm, with its ferocious winds and fury, set the theme. How could we resist collecting bundles of giant sappy sweet smelling pine cones knocked to the ground by the fury of Mother N?

We piled them high, added a fallen and twisty, mossy Japanese Maple branch, invited a few of the original art pieces by island artists to join in and then of course, somehow, big pouty deep red roses had to make an appearance in front of each guest’s plate. (Oh, and there was a milk chocolate turkey from our local and fabulous candy/fudge maker “Bon Bon” on each plate–vintage Franciscan Apple Blossom pattern from the San Francisco side of the family.)

Shout outs to artists we love: Garth Edwards, steel sculpturist–his Chatty Man sits in the middle of the table, chatting. Susan Croy Roth’s miniature pastel of a Autumn Japanese Maple. Jennifer Phillips‘ teeny tiny oil of a Fall Tree. Jeweler extraordinaire Jane Martin’s wee beautifully crafted metal birdhouse. A found “paint by the numbers’ winterscape. Vintage sake cups from Langley, Whidbey Island hold dark blooms.

We are so thankful for beauty, design, nature, friends, family, electricity, home.

Chandelier by Swedish glass artist Erik Hoglund (1932-1998)

Sneak Peek: “Midnight Blossoms” 2 new small paintings

The new dark of the winter season always inspires me–the garden seems barren and still but its not, really. There’s a sleepy quiet growth happening…red tulip bulbs, all planted and silent, are settling in, getting ready for Spring. The ancient camellia hedge in the back of the house that blooms red, pink, and white, one giant shrub after another has already set out tiny buds. And the gnarly 70-year-old red Japanese Maple Sisters (twins! One on each side of the old stone house) now naked after dropping what seems like a fluorescent frock of orange and ruby red to the foresty floor around their feet, are just resting for the moment. They remind me of two Lovely Ladies after a dance, happy and content, tired after all the excitement of showing off for Fall and ready now for a wee nap…it won’t take long before they burst with new frilly lacy leaves.

And remember the old blue clawfoot tub we found about a month ago behind the camellias after we cleaned up the thicket of brambles? It took two very strong guys (who probably will never do anything for me ever again) to move it  into the teeny tiny French inspired garden “Le Potager.” I look out at the tub now from our rain spattered old window, loving the thought that it is filled to the brim with beautiful rich and nurturing soil. Yellow, orange and white daffodil bulbs sleep soundly there “in the bath” dreaming of sun to come.

The life and the beauty of the darkened garden…so peaceful and mysterious, so romantic. How could I not paint it?

Please visit Roby King Galleries or email me for more information.

Midnight Blossoms I & II, 12 x 12 inches each, acrylic on frescoed canvas with lacquered finish.

One of the Top Ten: My Video for the Design Sherpa Contest

A few months ago, I entered a contest sponsored by a social media company from Atlanta named “Design Sherpa.” It sounded like fun: Submit a picture and write 100 words about “What Inspires You.” Although the challenge was directed primarily to interior designers and other home-related professionals, I checked the box “Other” (as an artist) and wrote about the beach glass I find here on the shore and how the patterns and worn soft patina influence my paintings. Here’s what I wrote.

A little bit later, I was notified that my little entry had made it to the Top 100. And the next challenge was to write a 350 word essay again on Inspiration. I love to write so I had to jump in. And the fact the the Grand Prize was a 10-day trip to Paris plus $10,000 was also a wee bit motivating.

The old stone fireplace in our home was my muse. Here’s that essay.

Recently, I got the news that I was in the Top Ten. Yikes! The next challenge was to do a 3-minute video about Design Inspiration. It’s one thing to sit at a laptop and compose a paragraph or two sitting in your pajamas. Quite another to have to walk and talk on a video. Eek! I ran for the makeup bag and got rid of my paint-splattered Converses! Grab your popcorn and settle in. (P.S. My patient son shot the whole thing on his iPhone!)