The Portland, Oregon, native’s acrylic landscapes capture the vast beauty of her natural surroundings, rendering expansive sunsets that blanket plains in luminous color or endless open roads accompanied only by drifting clouds ahead.
“They’re never really extraordinary or remarkable scenes. I just feel like I have to document them. I think I’ve always felt a really strong connection to place and to land,” she said.
While attending Tulane, Freshley felt that same drive to preserve places but worked in a different medium—creative writing.
As a double major in economics and English, Freshley centered her creative writing thesis on how the concept of home is represented in literature.
“My thesis was about this place that’s really important to me—this tiny, idyllic town on the Washington coast, where my dad grew up and where my sister and I spent our summers,” she said. “I was always gripped with this fear that it would go away and that these natural places that were formative in my life would be consumed by new development or cease to exist. I just had to save it in my writing.”
After graduating, Freshley began her career working in digital advertising and brand strategy at Peter A. Mayer Advertising in New Orleans. In her spare time, she explored her lifelong interest in art, utilizing canvases as time capsules to conserve austere yet exquisite spaces.
“Advertising was a great way to combine my creative and artistic interests with a business mindset,” she said. “That experience taught me everything I needed to know about how to market and make sales as an artist.”
After working with the agency for seven years, she departed in March 2016 to fully devote her time to painting.
“For me, painting and making art are not really negotiable. I have to do it,” said Freshley. “I also want to dispel the ‘starving artist’ idea and help other artists understand that it is possible to make a living.”
Freshley compiles helpful advice and tips about her experiences on her website (catherinefreshleyart.com) in a series of blog posts for fellow artists.
Now living in Wichita, Kansas, Freshley steadily sells paintings and prints. She has also undertaken some notable commissions, including artwork (“Oklahoma Sunset,” above) for the NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder.
As part of its 10th-anniversary celebration, the team commissioned several artists to create original works for the Founders’ Lounge Hallway in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Freshley stretched a sprawling late-fall sunset across a large triptych. Dappled with the team’s colors of blue and orange, the striking sky illuminates the three canvases.
“The Thunder is not just Oklahoma City’s team; it’s really the state’s team. Much of the state is rural and driven by agriculture and ranching, so my art seemed like an appropriate way to speak to the state’s heritage and the current life of so many residents,” said Freshley.