JANE FREEMAN

      

Miniaturist/Artist

Links to more information:    

Online NewsHour

Jane’s book: The Art of the Miniature

Sarah Lawrence College Alumni interview

The Jane Files: Monthly Articles in DollHouse Miniatures Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

Who are you?

 

 Tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests in general.


I earn my living by editing books as a freelancer, and sometimes illustrating books. I have returned to painting (oil on masonite) after making miniatures for 15 years. I spend a lot of time in solitude, doing yoga, meditation, etc. I have 2 shelties and 2 rescue cats.
 
 What drew you to the Beauty and the Beast TV series, and why did you feel
 the need to express yourself in making B&B Miniature's?
 Had you worked with Miniatures before being involved with Beauty and the
 Beast or did it develop from it?

 

My first exposure to the show was one night when I turned on the TV and accidentally caught the episode about the deaf girl. I'd never before heard of B&B. I was instantly thrilled by everything about it--the photography, the characters, and the story. Many weeks later, I found out that there was something called fandom. Sam Goody was sponsoring Ron Perlman's recording. I went there to meet him and was surprised to see the line wrapped around the entire block. I think it was on Sixth Ave (Ave. of the Americas) somewhere midtown. While waiting in line to get Ron's autograph, I met some fans who told me the story--how Vincent met Catherine. I had no idea! 

Meanwhile, I'd just begun making miniatures--my first, in 1986, was a replica of Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre. When I finally saw the B&B pilot, I fell madly in love with Vincent's Chamber and made a replica of it in one of my bookshelves. Father's Study followed, and after that, the subway station... I've made all the sets, including 2 of the D.A.'s office, the drainage culvert, etc.

 
 How did B&B affect your life?

 

It made me even more inward than I already was; increased my affinity for solitude and reflection. I had a boyfriend at the time, who really was a great guy, but not very chivalrous or unconditional (well, neither was I). In fact, we were well matched in our solipsism. I remember once during a fight, I yelled, "You're certainly no Vincent!" And he yelled right back, "And you're no Catherine, either!" He couldn't stand the show--thought it sentimental, predictable, lowbrow & trite. But being an architect, he was useful--he helped me with the layout of Catherine's apartment, which was not easy. I'm happy to say that once we split up we became excellent friends. His current girlfriend, come to think of it, bears a slight resemblance to Linda Hamilton. You know; the elegant corporate look, the straight, chin-length, swingin, honey-blond hair... Maybe the show rubbed off on him after all.
 
  Which of your B&B works do you like best, and why? If you were forced to
 pick one of your works as a favorite, what would it be?

 
 That's like asking a mother of 15 who her favorite child is. I guess I'd have to say Vincent's Chamber, because it was my first, and is one of the most mysterious.
 
 How long have you been making miniatures? If you started when you were a
 child/teenager, do you still have some of your work from that time? Did you
 share it with your friends then?


 Like most children, I always made constructions. I never owned a dollhouse, nor was I interested in the commercial kind, but I did make one for a school project. Instead of looking at it, you looked down into it. It was like a 3-dimensional layout, a replica of my room. Since I had no friends even then, and I stayed alone as much as possible even then, I didn't share my art with anyone. I even avoided the company of my 3 younger sisters. Now that the 4 of us are in middle age, we're as close as can be. They are my 3 favorite women in the world.
 
  Who most influenced and/or encouraged your talent? What training have you
 had for techniques you use, and where, if it was formal training - or are
 you self-taught, working from instinct?

 
 I'm one of those over-educated artistes who was lucky enough to be encouraged from infancy. When I was 3, one day my dad got me quiet by doodling on a placemat in a restaurant. He passed the squiggly line to me and said, "Finish it." What fun! That was my first drawing. From then on I wanted to be an artist. As a child I won scholarships and contests all the time, and in senior year of high school, was voted the most outstanding art student in the county (which had hundreds of schools). That was the Silver Knight Award). In college I majored in literature, but I did some printmaking and painting. After that I went to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and focused on painting. Then I moved to New York. In a tiny studio apartment I made wall-size oil paintings. When I moved downtown, to Tribeca, 2 years later, I had a large loft but made very small paintings. Go figure.
 
 How do you choose the subject of your work? What. What do you imagine
 first - the content of the work or the emotion you want it to convey?
 
 
 That's as hard question. I think the feeling or emotion must come first, otherwise it is merely an exercise in illustrative materialism. My fascination with B&B compelled me to recreate it for myself. I did the same thing with the novel Jane Eyre. So taken was I by that masterpiece that I simply had to re-invent it. I tried many ways before coming upon the idea of the miniature. First I painted enormous oil paintings as mock book illustrations. Then I rendered small watercolors. Nope. Then I wrote a long essay, a subjective appreciation, which later was published in the Bronte Society Newsletter. None of these satisfied me. Then one day, as I sat at my desk, I found myslf gazing into a semi-empty bookshelf. Without thinking, I took some fancy gift-wrapping paper and made it into wallpaper. Then I made a little fireplace. I somehow rigged a wingback chair and a desk and a tiny box of cigars--and that was the beginning of Thornfield Hall. 
 
 Did you create your Miniatures from scratch, or find inspiration in
 photographs, video scans and such? Or both?

 
 I built them from scratch, based on watching the episodes over and over, sometimes taking notes, listing as many details as I could find in each episode that contained a certain scene. When I showed "Catherine's Place" at a convention in NYC, some of the scriptwriters were present. They asked me how I got the apartment so perfectly, down to the last detail. I said "by watching the episode [I think it was "The Watcher"] over and over.] They said, "We wish we could have had it as we were writing that story. It would have made logistics so much easier."
 
 Have you or do you presently produce work for any other fandoms besides B&B?
 Are you or have you been involved with any other fandoms in the same way?

 
 No, never, to any degree.  
 
 Do you use your artistic talents professionally or wish to? Do you have any
 current projects you'd like to share with us?

 
 I've had shows and commissions over the years. My ambition in having a viable career, which is a fulltime job in itself, has diminished, for I want to spend my time more richly--that is, I'm not willing to fight for recognition anymore. I feel absolutely free in disassociating myself from "the art scene." Sometimes I get invited to participate in a show; sometimes someone by word of mouth will buy a piece; but usually I stay alone and work. Now I'm painting again. As I get quieter and more inward, the subject matter becomes less obvious. They're about color, primarily. My paintings are about paint, though they may ride on the vehicles of landscape, still-life, figure, face....
 


Note:  Jane Freeman’s Beauty and the Beast miniatures have been featured as recently as

Winterfest Online 2005
 
 
Lesley’s Tribute to Jane Freeman:  Visit the World of BATB in Miniature

 

I asked Jane what inspired her to create these wonderful works of art. Here is her reply:

What inspired me to construct the sets in the first place was my complete ADORATION and OBSESSION with the themes and characters in Beauty and the Beast. Also, the sets themselves were unlike any I'd ever seen on television--beautiful, complex, symbolic, poetic, imaginative, rich, archetypal. I started with Vincent's Chamber, naturally--and went on from there, until all the sets were made.

I NEVER CEASE TO BE AMAZED BY THE MANY TALENTED PEOPLE IN OUR I NEVER CEASED TO BE AMAZED AT THE MANY TALENTED PEOPLE IN OUR FANDOM. HERE YOU CAN SEE AND EVEN PURCHASE, THE WONDERFUL WORK OF JANE FREEMAN. THE SCENE YOU SEE ABOVE IS A SET FROM THE SHOW, BUT WITH A DIFFERENCE! IT HAS BEEN LOVINGLY AND PAINSTAKINGLY CONSTRUCTED IN MINIATURE. THE ATTENTION TO DETAIL IN THIS WORK OF ART IS TRULEY AMAZING


These miniatures are mostly 1" (doll house) scale. Some scenes are small and intimate, some quite large. "Catherine's Place" is a tv studio in the round, including various film departments: carpentry, craft service, matte painting, props. It is based on the episode "The Watcher" where Catherine is stalked in her apartment. This diorama is about 36" square and 13" high. I took it to a B&B convention years ago, and the writers of that episode happened to be there. They were amazed by how perfect it was and said they wished they could have used it to work from as they were writing "The Watcher"! I've made miniatures of all the sets from B&B and sell colour postcards of 15 of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post cards available are:

  1. Vincent's Chamber
  2. Catherine's Balcony & Vincent's Chamber (2 images)
  3. Catherine's Place (2 images-balcony & livingroom)
  4. Father's Study
  5. Below the City (subway with B&B posters on wall)
  6. Gizmos (Mouse's chamber)
  7. Night Prowl (desolate NY street at night)
  8. The Children's Chamber
  9. The Pipe Chamber
  10. Diana's Loft
  11. Central Park, Winter ( "Art Deco Apartment Building."with the San Remo, the twin-towered Deco on the skyline, often seen from Catherine's apartment)
  12. Kristopher's Haunt
  13. Cloak and Candles
  14. Breakfast Below
  15. The D.A.'s Office (Joe's office)

A set of 15 cards includes the story behind the making of each scene. If you are wondering where the dioramas are, I still have most of them here in my studio. Below the City, Father's Study and Vincent's Chamber are built into bookshelves. The others arebuilt into discrete boxes. Breakfast Below is now part of the collection of the Museum of the City of New York. Kristopher's Haunt was bought by a collector from Florida, and Central Park, Winter by a collector from New York. The children's chamber was so big I had to take it apart eventually for lack of space. The DA's office, Catherine's Place, and Gizmos, as well as some others, are for sale. I also have the following scenes that are not available as post cards, but they are available as color laser photocopies. They are: