Express Yourself: A Convo with Kate Franklin
“From the time I was a very young child, I was drawing. I collected my father’s shirt cardboards and carried them around with my art box, and I’d do drawings on them. I was three, I think,” Kate Franklin laughed as she told us this story. We imagine a cherubic blonde with a paint splattered smock and a big, wide smile. “And if you can believe it, twenty-three years later, I found those little shirt cardboard drawings and did a giant painting from them. It got into a big show in Boston and won a prize. How cool is that! My painting instructor said, “keep painting like a child, Kate, and I took that to heart.”
A painter, teaching artist, entrepreneur, and mother to three, Franklin moved to Vermont a little over a year ago. Her husband works as a commercial aviator, commuting back and forth from LaGuardia. We met for coffee at Spiral Press to learn more about her cool business, Wine & Painting Classes, and why she picked our favorite town as a place to settle down.
Always an artist?
“I started college as a ballet major. I’d been dancing all my life and I loved ballet, but after a few months, and fierce competition, I realized the rigor wasn’t for me. So I decided to study Art History. I thought maybe I would be a curator. Along the way, I took some art classes and discovered, then, that my true love really was painting. So after I finished at Wheaton (in Norton, MA) I moved up to Boston and went to art school. I’ve been painting ever since.”
A thing for Vermont.
“I grew up in New York, but my family’s originally from Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island. I love New England, and I always had this dream of living in Vermont.” Before relocating, Kate ran a successful Wine & Painting Studio in St. Charles, Missouri, while her husband was based out of St. Louis. “It was busy and lovely, in a pretty part of town. Historic, on a Cobblestone Street, with the river in the distance.” But when St. Louis Airport was faced with a future potential base closure to pilots, Kate suggested they consider moving back East.
“We used to visit Vermont to ski, and stay with friends, and I had fond, fond memories of it. As it turned out, so did my husband. We started looking on the internet, and then we made a trip, and then a few more trips. We felt right away that Manchester could be home.”
Ins and Outs of Wine & Painting.
Once Kate got settled in Manchester, she decided to start the art engine up again, this time partnering with local inns and restaurants to offer ‘on location’ Wine & Painting Workshops. “There’s a formula,” Kate explained, “but I keep it pretty simple.” With her pop-up classes, she travels anywhere, to a home or business, with the components needed (down to the detail) to create the full experience. A minimum of six painters works, but she can handle a group of twenty or more, with additional staff when needed. “I walk every student through the tools, the colors on the palette, how to hold the brush, the basics. It’s a terrific situation for brand new painters. While making a piece, they’re also getting a basic introduction to the art.
For most of the landscapes, I give people chalk, and we start with the basic background. Draw in the horizon. Then a ridgeline. Then the hills. And then we begin to paint together, in layers, from background to foreground. Classes tend to last two to three hours, and everyone goes home with a finished painting, and an evening of food, drink, and good company. We like it.
“For a lot of my classes, it’s more about going out for a fun evening, doing something totally cool. It’s fun to be in an artsy environment, being social, having a glass or two of wine, and snacks. It starts that way. But then by the end, most people are so surprised that they were able to ‘do it,’ that it inspires them to sign up again! And so there becomes a little creative momentum.”
Where do you find your inspiration?
“We travel a lot, and I am always inspired by the country scenes; landscapes, in particular. I take a lot of photographs and paint from them after I’m back at home. In fact, I just added a couple of paintings to the W&P workshops that are from recent trips, one from Florence and one from Provence. They’re dreamy…”
Who’s your favorite?
“Such a hard question! I don’t even have a favorite!” She laughed. After a moment, though, she offered up (William) Turner. “I adore him and find myself returning to his work, particularly his watercolors of Venice. He painted in the early 1800s and his pieces were very modern, almost abstract. So I suppose he’s one of my very favorites; he and John Singer Sargent. And, of course, the Impressionists! I admire the way they all handle light and color.”
Best things about being here?
“We love visiting the different lakes and taking drives to see the sights. We hike a little bit, walk a lot. We love all of the restaurants. My oldest daughter has a baby play group where she lives, in Jersey City, and just the other day one of the moms was asking for getaway recommendations. Two or three chimed in with Manchester! My girls are 28 and 32. They love to come up to shop, and relax. Both of my sons-in-law play golf. For me,” Kate paused and smiled, “there’s this wonderful plein air tradition. And now that I’m here, I’m inspired to paint more on location. To capture some of this beautiful scenery myself!”
Learn More about Painting with Kate
Wine & Painting Classes are totally fun! If you’ve never painted before and want a casual introduction, or if you’re just looking for something inspired to do with a group of friends or colleagues, Kate can bring the lesson to you, or to a convenient location that suits your group. Click through for more photos, local venue options, and a link to her official website. Happy Painting!Wine & Painting Classes
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