Raised in a log cabin in the woods, Kim Ferreira now lives in Portsmouth, NH, a lovely little city by the sea. Her winding path as an artist began with a B.F.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Soon after, she opened an art gallery which she owned and operated for ten years. A new mom, she currently works out of her home studio while her daughter sleeps. Kim is also a venturous baker, a soy candle-maker, a dreamer, a brown-eyed girl, a cat lover, a pisces, a not-so-neat freak, and a craigslist addict. She is obsessed with her garden and brakes for squirrels.
Kim’s recent work is inspired by simple pleasures and the exuberant enjoyment of life, what the French refer to as “joie de vivre”. These small-scale oil paintings feature an array of anthropomorphic woodland critters and their pastimes against a backdrop nodding to french rococo landscapes.
How did you get started as an artist?
I’ve always loved to create things and at a very young age would amuse myself with coloring, drawing, sewing, embroidery, knitting (though I still can’t figure out how to make anything but a rectangle). My first experience with oils was an introductory painting class at UNH. I found it so frustrating, I couldn’t make anything look the way I wanted, I struggled with mixing colors and how to get the paint onto the canvas. I eventually worked thru the frustration and fell in love with the medium. My professors encouraged me to pursue my B.F.A.
What are your biggest influences?
My work has always been influenced by my interests. I love history, literature, taking walks in the woods, going to antique shops… I’m always happiest when I’m making something, whether it be a cake, new curtains or planting seeds in my garden. The imagery for my paintings are essentially fragments of my daily life.
Animals first found their way into a few series of self-portraits a few years ago. The tortoise and the hare, lions and lambs, a fox and a bear, served as both universal and personal symbols. Since having my daughter, the critters have taken over! The original inspiration for this series was actually a pair of curtains I sewed for her nursery featuring illustrations of little rabbits, squirrels and owls having a party in the woods.
I also like to make art historical references to other paintings in my work. In this series, the backgrounds are allusions to the landscapes in paintings by French rococo artists such as Fragonard, Watteau, and Boucher, to name a few. In my own way, I am celebrating frivolity and simple pleasures by focusing on little things that spark joy. These paintings bring out my inner child and give me a much needed escape from the real world.
What five words best describe your work?
playful, charming, romantic, sentimental, idyllic
Tell us a bit about your technique.
I love working with oils, building up the layers, working wet into wet and being able to form an object with a single brushstroke. I begin with a very simple drawing to work out the composition. I find myself getting into the finer details with a small brush early on (I just can’t help myself) and getting looser with bigger brushes as I progress.
What is a typical workday like for you?
A typical workday has looked very different from year to year. Right now, I am home with my 9 month old daughter and so I am able to paint while she naps (we’ve been blessed with a great sleeper). My morning ritual includes a feeding, cappuccino and NPR. We usually go for a walk or play then she’s down for a nap. This is when I typically prep panels and sketch, respond to emails, sometimes I’ll begin a painting… She wakes up and we do our thing – read a book, play, eat, spend time in the garden, or another walk, perhaps a trip to the library, etc. and then she’s down for another (longer) nap in the afternoon. I covet this time, typically three hours, to paint without interruption. I am very happy with the balance between family and my art making at the moment. When I am not painting I am often thinking about painting.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
My current work is a celebration of all of the little things that make my world go round. I love being an artist and having the ability to share pieces of myself with others, it’s a wonderful way of connecting with people.