Valerie Freeman – American Artist


Al di La: Surge of Expressions, Ventura Star, March 20, 2015

Bella Rosa Gallery Exhibit 2012, Ojai Valley News


Artistic Touch: Energy and movement ignite paintings and sculpture

Valerie Freeman

Contributed photo Valerie Freeman

In her artist’s statement, Freeman describes her work as “unbound, unlimited expressions via 2D and 3D works that have an organic fluidity and a life of their own.”

She received two awards at the “Ojai Celebrates Art IV” exhibit running through the end of December at the Ojai Valley Museum: first place in sculpture and an honorable mention in painting. She also is in the “Small Works” exhibit through Jan. 15 at the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts and will be in a show opening Jan. 5 at the Bella Rosa Gallery in Santa Barbara.

Sculpture is a fairly new medium for Freeman. A year ago, she took a four-day workshop with Allison Newsome, who teaches at Harvard.

“Her approach was how I like to paint: fast and no rules,” Freeman said. “She was teaching us plein-air painting with clay.”

When the workshop ended, Freeman had a little ball of clay. She said she thought about a 3-day-old colt at a Malibu ranch where she sometimes paints.

“I had this memory of Ember in 1999 and the position she got into, bending over like a tripod and biting her butt,” she said. That was the first piece from the “Gotta Itch” series and the first sculpture she sold.

“For me, that was like a volcano of creativity erupting,” she said. “The sculpture and painting started exploding, and it’s been basically equine since then.”

The pieces are roughly sculpted.

“My fingerprints are everywhere,” she said. “People have said it’s like I am doing painting with sculpture. … I am putting energy and movement into the piece rather than thinking about a smooth finish.”

Freeman puts the same energy into her painting. She creates her large expressionist-style paintings in her backyard studio using latex house paint in shades of yellow, blue, raw umber and burnt sienna with touches of red.

“I have three or four big ones going at the same time, and I paint mostly with rags,” she said, demonstrating how she gets her whole body into the process and uses both hands.

“I start with washes, knowing a horse is going to emerge but having no idea of the composition, the gesture,” she said. “The painting paints itself.”

The horse is actually the background of the painting, she added.

“I am pulling the horse out by painting the negative space,” Freeman said. “The goal for me is less is more and having each mark, brush stroke, be its own unique gesture.”

She compares painting to playing chess.

“I am figuring out what my next move will be,” Freeman said. “I will stand back and make my move and study it.”

Freeman also has done Chinese brush painting, trying to capture an image in five strokes. That led to a “Drama” series after 9/11 about finding the balance between light and dark.

In addition, she experiments with photography, describing a series of close-ups of agave plants as “very minimal, fluid, graceful landscapes of light.”

Freeman grew up on Long Island in New York in a family that loved arts and crafts.

“My mom used to paint in the kitchen, and my sister and I would slide back and forth on the linoleum under her easel,” she said. “In high school, my art teachers gave me the key to the classroom and art supply closet. I had full rein to do whatever I wanted with art supplies and canvas.”

She got a scholarship to attend Pratt Institute.

After earning a bachelor of fine arts with honors, she did experimental art balanced with work in visual merchandising, creating window displays for the Henri Bendel store in New York City.

“It was a lot of fun — like doing art installations,” she said.

She visited California and was inspired by the landscape.

“I went back to East Hampton and was doing California landscape paintings,” she said.

Freeman moved to California in 1990 and lived in Topanga for 11 years, then bought a ranch in the Antelope Valley, where she became active in the art community, serving as a gallery director and curator.

She also taught art classes on about a dozen Crystal Cruise trips in the mid 1990s, including a 103-day around- the-world journey.

“I felt like Cinderella, Vincent Van Gogh and Christopher Columbus all wrapped up into one,” Freeman said. “I got to hang out on the front of the ship, and when we came into different ports I would be up there sketching.”

She came to Ojai for a girls’ weekend in 2009 and four days later found a house. She applied to and was accepted by Ojai Studio Artists.

She has exhibited her work around the world and won awards and grants.

She also is directing a fundraiser for the Equine Sanctuary in Ojai in February that is open to all artists in all media. Sylvia White is the judge.Freeman donates a percentage of sales of all her equine work to the Equine Sanctuary.

Her Web site is:

To recommend an artist to be profiled in this section, or for more information, contact Nicole D’Amore at 405-0364 or


.Ventura County Star, February 16, 2012

"White Fury," an oil painting by Donna Weil of the Lakes and Valleys Artists Guild in the Antelope Valley, is part of the "Equine Exhibition" at the Ojai Center for the Arts.

Contributed photo

“White Fury,” an oil painting by Donna Weil of the Lakes and Valleys Artists Guild in the Antelope Valley, is part of the “Equine Exhibition” at the Ojai Center for the Arts.

Herds of horse paintings have been released in the “Equine Exhibition” through Feb. 29 at the Ojai Center for the Arts. Contributing artists were given free rein to create their interpretations of horses.

Besides enriching the community with visual art, the show supports Ojai’s Equine Sanctuary. A portion of proceeds from art sales benefits the nonprofit organization, which rescues and rehabilitates injured sport and performance horses. Through sponsorships, donations and volunteers, the group offers therapeutic and educational experiences to children, the disabled and veterans. For more information on the sanctuary, visit or call 453-4567.

Valerie Freeman, an Ojai Studio Artists member, directed the exhibit. More than 30 artists from Southern California and New Mexico contributed equine art in a variety of mediums. The 73 entries were judged by Sylvia White, an equine art collector as well as art adviser and owner of Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura.

Kate Hoffman of Ojai was awarded first place for her oil painting “Red Horse.” Freeman won second place for “Aulun,” a ceramic sculpture, and third place for “Anyst,” a mixed-media piece; she donated her prize money to the Equine Sanctuary.

Exhibit hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at the art center, 113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai. For more information, call 646-0117, email or visit




Ojai Valley Museum Announces Winning Artists for Ojai Celebrates Art IV

by Myrna Cambianica on November 17, 2011

Writer: Letitia Grimes

The Ojai Valley Museum’s final exhibit of the year, “Ojai Celebrates Art IV,” features three award winners offering visitors an experience in three different media – clay, luminous oil paint, and the world’s heaviest wood. Museum Director Michele Pracy announced the prizes on Ojai Day in October. The exhibit continues through December 31, 2011. A panel of distinguished art professionals judged and selected the winners: Anca Colbert, art dealer and appraiser; Theodore Gall, international sculptor; and William Hendricks, photographer and professor.

Valerie Freeman, First Place Winner and “Blue Bolt” – Clay Sculpture

Valerie Freeman of Ojai won the first place award for her ceramic sculpture, “Blue Bolt.” This wonderfully alive baby horse is executed in the one fire clay technique Freeman learned in a workshop with Harvard ceramicist Allison Newsome at the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts. The sculptor has to work very rapidly, shaping the clay both inside and outside simultaneously, then firing it while still wet. The viewer can feel the horse emerging out of a lump of clay into the horse form. You can virtually see the push and pull of her fingers in the clay. Newborn from the sculptor’s hands, the little foal stands on splayed legs, and in a moment of sudden energy, turns its head to bit and itching back. The dynamic surge of the modeling, the cobalt blue glaze, and the artist’s lightning fast inspiration, all add up to the title’s bolt from the blue.

The winning artworks in “Ojai Celebrates Art IV” were selected from among 60 entries.  The artists themselves graciously provided interviews describing their creative process for this article. We hope that their passion for art will inspire anyone in town during the remainder of the year to enjoy the exhibit.

The museum is located at 130 W. Ojai Avenue, Ojai, CA. Admission:  free for current 2011 members, adults – $4.00, students – 18 and under – $1.00, children 6–18 – $1.00 and children 5 and under – free. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday, 1 to 4 pm; Saturday, 10 to 4 pm; Sunday, noon to 4 pm. The museum will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Tours are available by appointment.

For more information, call the museum at (805) 640-1390, ext. 203, e-mail or visit the museum website at Ojai Valley


Ojai Valley Post, April 8, 2011


Palisades Post,  March 12, 2009

“Aloe Fan Trio,” digital photograph by Valerie Freeman

Valerie Freeman’s Multimedia Work at BranchLibrary through April

Chamber of Commerce and Pacific Palisades Art Association member Valerie Freeman will be exhibiting a variety of her multimedia artworks from Saturday, March 14 through April 26 at the Palisades Branch Library, 861 Alma Real. The exhibition is open to the public during library hours, with an artist’s reception planned for this Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

On exhibit will be a glimpse of the various series Freeman has created over the past decade. The artist, inspired by nature and life experiences, experiments with various plein-air painting and photography techniques. The exhibit will include several of her Chinese brush paintings of animals that are studies for her pond paintings.

Coming from a photo-realistic painting style that she’s used since the age of 14, Freeman has since simplified her approach. Included in the exhibition will be prints of her new series of experimental digital photography, in which she fuses spirituality and nature.

A Long Island transplant, Freeman earned her BFA from Pratt Institute and is a recipient of several awards and commissions, including the Municipal Arts Society of NYC and the Ford Foundation. She has also taught art aboard a Crystal Cruise line.

Freeman has balanced her career as an artist with private and corporate painting commissions, teaching, decorative painting/murals and faux finishes, and printmaking and marketing her fine art. She recently served as gallery director and curator in the Antelope Valley, and she curated an exhibit of local artist George Kalmar’s work at the Antelope Valley College Art Gallery. She has also created a Pacific Palisades Art Association Web site (which includes a blog, calendar of events, and members’ links):

Freeman will begin a series of private group art classes for youths and adults. These classes include Chinese Brush Painting, and Catalyst for Spiritual & Emotional Healing.

On Thursday, April 16, from 4 to 5 p.m., Freeman will teach a free class at the Library dubbed ‘An Introduction to Chinese Brush Painting.’ For more information, call 310-200-3027; email