A short biography of Jonathan Freyer, recorded by Christopher Freyer in 2009:
I remember that I was always drawing when I was a little kid. I knew by the time I was in the 2nd grade that I wanted to be an artist! A funny story from around that time: one day in class, my teacher told us that we could draw anything we wanted. Looking around the room for something to draw, I saw a train on some train tracks. I ended up drawing it in perspective even though I had no idea what I was doing at the time. The teacher kept the drawing all the way up until I graduated from 6th grade, showing her students from year to year. I also remember always being obsessed with staying in between the lines.
I had some art instruction early on but I figured out that I wanted to learn on my own. There is nothing wrong with art teachers and art classes, but I wanted to learn and experiment on my own. I remember teachers saying “you are drawing too small” or “you are drawing like a coloring book.” I didn’t discount what they were saying but it reinforced the feeling of going ahead with developing my own skills.
When I started experimenting with different mediums, I found that I didn’t really like painting so I started out with oil pastel and turpenoid. Using the turpenoid with oil pastel let me develop a process different from how most people use oil pastel. I was able to use more detail and I could put the color on solid and flat. I started gravitating towards color pencil because I thought they were easier to use than oil pastel. I could get even better detail and eventually I learned to use a burnish method. I also started experimenting with air brush so I could produce gradiated skies. All the while it seemed like I was working towards a photographic-type look to my art. I guess you can call most of my work photo-realism.
I figured out early on that I would have to work for a living and that art was going to just be a passion. It was important enough for me to continue art even though I worked and had a family. I also had a lot of rejections early on. Every open juried show that I entered, I got rejected. At one point, I came to a crossroads. I decided that I wasn’t going to let the rejections make me think that I wasn’t good. I decided that I was going to use the rejections as catalyst to stick to it and get better.
As I studied art, I got intrigued by surrealism. I think I use it to a degree in my art, incorporating it into different concepts and themes. I looked up to and was influenced by Edward Hopper, Maggrite, and Alberto Vargas. I also cultivated an interest in nostalgic art; old cars, neon, diners, anything 40s and 50s.
I branched out into constructed sculpture, using different materials like glass, wood, metal, and found objects like different round globes, washing machine agitators, and mannequin parts. Looking back, I think I branched out because I found it stimulating to try different media. It was fun to do a painting then turn around and do a sculpture, for example. Working with sculpture turned into making furniture. I wanted to make one of a kind artistic furniture using found objects that I could see the art in.
I feel very grateful, lucky, and blessed that I have the ability to create art. It is a big part of who I am as a person. I highly recommend utilizing a special skill even though you might not necessarily be able to live off of it.
Currently, I am looking at the possibility of going in a different direction; trying something new and different. I will always have a place in my heart for nostalgic art, but I’m looking into doing something a little more current.