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Photo by Dante Fontana
In his 75 years, Fred Ekman has created more than 4,000 paintings.
However, this strong, kind, vital artist is facing a challenge; the loving husband, father and grandfather has been diagnosed with essential tremor, a neurological condition that causes his hands to shake uncontrollably. But with youthful exuberance and an excellent outlook on life, he is determined to continue creating his art.
American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” What lies within Ekman is a man determined to beat his condition while living life to the fullest, and helping the organization that’s championing education and treatment of the disease – the International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF).
Ekman started his art career doing drafting and rendering for his father, Harold, an accomplished architect and painter in Phoenix, Arizona. He loved his work and decided to pursue art and education for his own career. After teaching and coaching in southern California for a few years, Ekman and wife Lois (also a teacher) decided to accept teaching positions in Micronesia, where the couple and their two children relocated. The two-year commitment turned into 10, and they returned to California with three kids in tow. It was in that tiny island nation where Ekman learned to truly love painting. “I saw the beauty there and I wanted to capture it,” Ekman explains.
Once back in the U.S., he worked in real estate and attended painting classes, which helped him take his craft to extraordinary levels. After retiring, Ekman painted full-time doing commissioned and gallery work. He loves every type of location and method for getting the images on the paper or canvas. “I was concerned that my work would be an assembly line,” Ekman admits, “so I purposely work in all mediums and all subjects.” His pieces reflect a love for all kinds of hobbies, from traveling to drinking wine. His work ranges from lake cabins and French scenes to Arizona vistas, California missions, and even grapes. With the help of a lovely glass of red wine – its particular shade of red – Ekman painted one of his favorite pieces.
Ekman is a very sought after art teacher and continues to teach and work with students at multiple venues, including his home studio, Beverly’s Fabrics in Rocklin, and his most popular class – La Provence Restaurant and Terrace where his work is also available for purchase. “When I teach, I learn as much as my students,” Ekman shares.
Next month, Ekman will support IETF by donating more than 73 pieces of his work to their art auction. While Ekman’s condition is genetic (both his mother and grandmother suffered from it) he doesn’t let it get him down or stop him. “My art is therapeutic,” he shares. “When I am painting I save on psychiatrist bills…and have more fun.”
For more information, visit fredekman.com.