The students in Asia Freeman’s fall painting class at Kachemak Bay Campus range in age and background from teenagers just starting college to retired teachers, but there’s one constant in their art. Freeman’s Saturday afternoon class included beginning to advanced painting students, and yet all of them show a clear grasp of the fundamentals of painting.
Last month at an opening on Nov. 20, about a dozen students showed up to talk about their art. They also broadened their education by displaying their art and, like any professional artist at a gallery opening, greeting people who came to see their work.
The executive director of Bunnell Street Arts Center, Freeman carries on the tradition of her mother, Karla Freeman, also a painter and KBC instructor.
Students worked in the studio and en plein air — in the outdoors — and did still lifes, interior scenes, human portraits and landscapes. Landscapes dominate the show, though. Usually students start with studio painting to refine techniques like perspective, light, shadows and brush strokes, but that got switched around.
“This was a little different because it was an incredible fall,” said student Nell Gustafson. “We went straight into the landscape. It was mind boggling.”
That students embraced the autumn landscape can be seen by the dominance of an orange, yellow and red palette, like Oceana Wills’ “Slough Grass.” Some artists followed a different drummer, though, like Carol Beverly.
“Turning it real, turning it bright,” Beverly said of the choice of colors she faced. “I surrendered to turning it bright … I never used the ‘right’ colors. I just picked colors I liked.”
Beverly’s husband, Chris Jon Beverly, who also studies photography, said he looked for the abstract in landscapes.
“I’m leery of realistic painting,” he said. “I can use a camera for that.”
Freeman also teaches beginning drawing, a class that some painting students took and a skill some showed in their painting.
“I decided to let my drawing come through more, let my brush do the drawing,” said student Rita Pfeniger.
One of Gustafson’s works is titled “WIP,” for “work in progress,” her admission that the painting might not quite be done — or maybe it is.
That was a question student artists kept asking her, Freeman said: “Do you think it’s maybe time to stop?”
Students won’t have to stop learning. For the spring 2015 semester, Homer artist Jim Buncak teaches Beginning Painting, starting Jan. 13 and meeting on Tuesdays. For more information on KBC classes, visit www.kpc.alaska.edu. The show of Freeman’s students remains on exhibit through the end of January.