A self-taught artist, Julie Freeman has always loved art as a hobby. When she moved overseas after marriage in 1980, she was able to pursue her art while her husband Michael was completing a Masters in Product Design at the University of Illinois. She began doing animal portraits and some figurative work, which gradually progressed from black and white to colour. After living in the USA for eight years they transferred to the UK. Life was pretty busy with two young children but she persevered, mainly doing commissioned animal portraits, which became popular through word of mouth. Julie tells us of her journey from then through to winning the 2016 Unison Colour Cup at the PANZ ‘Purely Pastel’ National Awards in Mapua.
We returned to New Zealand at the end of 1993, and my primary focus was on the children, the home and part-time work in a local art shop. As the children got older I had a little more free time and started to focus on pastel as my preferred medium. My first exhibition was with two other professional artists, Merle Bishop and Joan Taylor, at A Fine Line Gallery in Matakana in December 2009 which was a turning point for me as an artist. My work for this exhibition covered a range of subjects, focusing on what I thought would be popular with the local residents and I successfully sold the majority of my work.