This Artsy Life

Fall. Thankfulness.

Fall has been my favorite season since I can remember.  Maybe it started with the excitement this little nerd felt for going back to school.  Fall marked the beginning, a time for new friends, new teachers, new books and pencils!


Last Fall was bittersweet.  I was in Florida helping care for my mom, not much in the way of excitement or autumnal color.  Instead of a new beginning, it was the slow, languorous middle of what we now know would be her last days.  Cherished moments and memories amid so much frustration and sadness.


This morning we had our first snow of the coming winter season in Ashland.  Fall is coming to an end and I can’t help but think back, not just on where I was last year, but on what life has been like since.


As blue sky peeks out among the clouds after this morning’s rain and snow, so Fall has felt like the return of joyfulness after the sadness of this summer.  Watching the color change among the beauty of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons refreshed and renewed my heart.


My studio practice also felt the magic of the advent of Fall.  Influenced and inspired by the beauty surrounding me, my paintings have felt more and more like my own unique voice.  I am filled with gratitude to be able to begin to call myself an artist, to focus on finding my way, to have time to paint every day– a dream held close to my heart but buried deep for such a long time.


This week, my heart bursts with thankfulness.  For Mr. F, his unfailing love and support, for my friends and family who have shared tears and laughter, for those who have encouraged and bolstered my painting practice.  And you, dear friends, for continuing to share in this journey with me.

Thank you.  I wish for you beauty and blessings!

All images by Lesley Frenz.

My Paintings

Update. New Work!

I’m trying really hard not to be one of those artists who never has their latest work on the website.  So, new work has been added to my artist site!

Above Us Only Sky I & II ( diptych ) by Lesley Frenz | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings #abstractart

above us only sky I & II ( diptych ), 2015, acrylic on masonite panel, 12×24 overall

As I prepare for my solo show, LATITUDE, at Art & Light Gallery in March and waiting for my Ashland studio to be ready for me to use, I’ve been working on small works on panel at the kitchen table.  Not ideal, but creating these smaller pieces helps me work out composition ideas and palettes.  Some I love, some I don’t.  OK, there’s only one I don’t love.  I’ll leave you to guess which one.

You can see my latest work in the Recent Work section of More to come soon!

Artwork by Lesley Frenz.


Listening.  My Studio Soundtrack.

Being an artist, especially a painter, requires a lot of alone time in the studio.  Solitude can be blissfully peaceful and lovely but it can also be a bit lonely.  To stave off that feeling ( and to get the creative juices flowing ), I like to choose a studio soundtrack that fits the mood of my work for the day.

My work often begins with the inspiring wild places Mr. F and I visit.  Eddie Vedder‘s Into the Wild soundtrack captures the haunting majesty of big mountains and vast landscapes.  I even created a Pandora* station based on the soundtrack, filled with wilderness-evoking music by Nirvana, Iron & Wine, Nick Drake, etc.   It’s my favorite music for working on large canvases– mellow but full of energy.

*side note– is Pandora still a thing?  There is probably a better source for online listening, but I’m still using Pandora. I’m uncool like that.

My Studio Soundtrack | Into the Wild | artsy forager #art #music #artiststudio

When working on smaller pieces, I bring the energy down a notch or two.  The Innocence Mission  provides a dreamy, misty atmosphere that gets me in the mood to settle in and lose myself in creating small beauties.

My Studio Soundtrack | Innocence Mission | artsy forager #art #music #artiststudio

And then there are times when music just doesn’t fit.  Usually when I’m gessoing or at the very beginning of new work, I find myself craving conversation and podcasts fill the bill.  My favorite these days is Danielle Krysa‘s ( aka The Jealous Curator ) Art for Your Ear.

My Studio Soundtrack | Art For Your Ear | artsy forager #art #music #artiststudio

Danielle has a relaxed, easy interview style that makes it feel like you’re chatting with friends over cocktails.  Seriously fun and such good information.  Artists getting real.

I’ve also recently started listening to Cheryl Strayed‘s Dear Sugar Radio.  I connected deeply with Strayed’s book, Wild and the ways our journeys parallel– the loss of a beloved mother to cancer, the love of hiking, how we’ve both found ourselves literally and figuratively in the Pacific Northwest.

Studio Soundtrack | Dear Sugar Radio | artsy forager #studio #art #podcasts

Fresh Air is also a favorite, along with John Dalton‘s interviews with artists.  I like to concentrate visually on the work, so I try not to watch videos in the studio while I paint but during breaks I love the Art Documentaries You Tube channel, especially the What Do Artists Do All Day series– the Tracy Emin episodes are especially wonderful.

What are you listening to these days?  Any inspiring podcasts I should know about?  Beautiful and beauty-filled music to inspire?




Artists, especially painters, have a secret.  Lean in close, now.

We don’t keep everything we create.

Work has often gone through several iterations before it reaches its final conclusion.  I can remember in college usually painting over the same canvas three to four times because, a | I didn’t love the first painting or second or third or ( even more likely ) b | I needed a new canvas and was too broke/cheap to buy or stretch a new one.

Mr. F and I are leaving Idaho Falls in just three short weeks, though we’d hoped to stay longer.  It’s time to start thinking about packing up.  In doing so, I found myself looking to recycle paintings I’ve been carrying around for over a year.  As I’ve mentioned before, when we move, space is very tight, so hanging on to work that I’ve evolved away from and no longer love just doesn’t make sense.

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Though I felt a tiny pang of guilt, I gathered up the outdated work, poured out some gesso and began anew.  I’ll keep you posted on the transformation.

Image by Lesley Frenz.


Solution. Genie Canvas.

Our gypsy life can put a serious damper on my studio practice.  Not the actual practice of creating but finding space to store my work and the high cost of shipping to galleries and clients.  Until recently, I’ve been working on paper and small panels, though I’ve always worked larger and was itching to break into painting BIG again.  But there was the problem of storage and shipping.  Then I discovered Genie Canvas.

These collapsible canvases seemed like they just might be the answer to my go bigger dilemma.  So I reached out to Genie Canvas and they graciously offered to send me one to try.  As it’s been a while since I painted a large canvas, I went with one of the smaller sizes they offer, a 36×36 ( sizes range from 24×36 up to 60×96 ).  The collapsible canvas arrived neatly packed in a 50x6x6 tube, including 1 1/2″ outside stretcher bars, inner stabilizer bar, and heavy gessoed cotton canvas.

IMG_20151001_134339 IMG_20151001_134807

Easy to follow detailed instructions for both assembly and repacking for shipment were included, but being a visual learner, I opted to follow the instructional video on their website.  The canvas arrives with two of the stretchers pre-attached, so all you have to do is fold over the other sides, attach the installed velcro, fold the corners, slide in the hinged support and voila, you have a tightly stretched canvas ready for paint!

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I wasn’t sure about the velcro but I’ve worked on the canvas for five days, moved it around, on and off the easel and it remains as tight and firmly in place as it was when it was first assembled.  I haven’t had the need to ship this canvas out yet ( though we’re leaving Idaho Falls sooner than we thought, so I’ll be packing it up in a few weeks! ), but I’ll post an update to let you know how it went.**

**Update!  The 36×36 painting shipped easily across the country from Idaho to South Carolina for only $45 including insurance.  It arrived safely with no damage to the painting and was reassembled and ready to hang in minutes!  I’ve ordered 4 more Genie Canvases. 😉

In the meantime, I’ll share the finished work I created on my Genie Canvas

Frenz_Fern Canyon_2015_acrylic on canvas_36x36

This 36×36 painting is a sneak peek of the body of work I’m creating for my solo show at Art & Light Gallery in March, Latitude.  I’ll be sharing more sneak peeks and info on the Latitude show and series over the next few months. Stay tuned!

If you are an artist who works on and routinely ships out large canvases, I would highly recommend you give Genie Canvas a try.  The initial cost is greater than a traditionally stretched canvas, but the savings on crating and shipping ( not to mention the hassle of creating boxes! ) more than make up for it.  Tell ’em Artsy sent ya!

Genie Canvas sent me one of their products free of charge for review.  All opinions are my own.

This Artsy Life


5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack.

We aren’t all outdoorsy and it can truly be a challenge to give up the luxuries of beds and showers for a few days.  But if you’ve never strapped on a pack and walked into the wilderness, as an artist, I can tell you the benefits will far outweigh the short term sacrifices.  I have a love/hate relationship with backpacking.  The whole no toilet/no shower thing isn’t my fave.  Neither is carrying a big pack while hiking.  However, I love the feeling of being on the trail, sleeping under the stars.

5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Top of the World trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists

Last weekend, Mr. F and I took off into the Grand Tetons for a night and it got me thinking of all the ways backpacking can benefit us as artists.

A literal change of scene.

5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Marion Lake trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists

Artists tend to be solitary creatures.  We toil away in our studios, sometimes forgetting to go out, eat, even talk to other human beings.  We can get so wrapped up in what is going on within those four walls that we begin to overthink, overwork.  Backpacking is a fantastic way to get a change of scene, to physically and psychologically distance yourself from the work.  You’ll go back to it with a refreshed vision.

Quiet your mind.

5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Marion Lake trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists

No iMac.  No iPad.  No iPhone.  The only I is you.  Getting out and leaving technology and distractions behind, allows your mind time to calm.  As your feet take you down the trail, your mind is free to wander, to look up, look down, look around and notice the beauty in the three dimensional world around you.  You may even find new ideas flowing fast and furious thanks to a bit of peace and quiet.

Find room to breathe.

5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Marion Lake trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists

Those four walls I mentioned earlier?  They can be suffocating.  Especially when tied to pressure, responsibility, deadlines, all that adult stuff that goes along with being an artist.  The longer you hike, the farther you go into the wild, the farther away from those four walls, the more air you’ll feel going into your lungs.  Despite the weight of a pack, you feel lighter than air, your only concern is one foot in front of the other.  There is finally room to breathe.

For the inspiration.

5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Marion Lake trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists 5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Marion Lake trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists

This one seems obvious, especially if like me, you are an artist for whom nature is your muse.  But even if what you do isn’t remotely involved with nature, there are still mountains of inspiration to be attained.  Watch the changing light, notice the textures and shapes at play, the juxtapositions of color.  I dare you to come away uninspired.

For the adventure.

5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Marion Lake trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists

How often do we get to go on adventures?  Our grown up days are usually filled with the monotony of errands and responsibilities.  Backpacking will get you back in touch with your inner Huck Finn.  There is adventure and possibility around every bend in the trail.  Tackling a grocery store run with kids in tow will seem like a piece of cake once you’ve climbed steep switchbacks with a pack on your back.

5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack | artsy forager. Marion Lake trail, Grand Tetons NP. #hiking #backpacking #grandtetons #artists

If you get the chance, take to the trail.  Your legs might hate you but your mind, your spirit, and your work will thank you.

All images by Lesley Frenz.  Images from the Top of the World trail to Marion Lake and Granite Canyon, Grand Teton National Park.

Artsy Happenings

Moving Forward.

Change move grow

It seems like a long time since I’ve caught ya’ll up on what’s going on with my studio practice.  Has it really been a year?  Yikes!  If you follow along on social media, you know that I’ve still been diligently painting away, have launched my own artist’s website, and now have work represented by Art & Light Gallery in Greenville, SC.  So much exciting growth in the last year, I can hardly stand it!

As my studio practice grows, I’ve found myself wanting something different for this space.  For the last four years of writing Artsy Forager, I’ve focused my attention more on the work of other artists.  Perhaps because I doubted that I had anything compelling to say as an artist myself.  But like a baby bird, I have been finding my voice and am ready for my song to be heard.

Beginning this week, Artsy Forager, the blog and social media platforms, will be shifting direction.  While Artsy Forager has in the past been concentrated on other artist’s work, moving forward I’ll be sharing more of my own artistic journey– my work, my inspiration, our travels and adventures and what it all means to me.  And with a solo show at Art & Light coming up in March 2016 (eeeee!!!!), I am making more time to paint, and with that my posting to the blog will be less frequent– once or twice a week instead of daily.  I’ll still be on Instagram & other social media daily, though!

I will always be an encourager and cheerleader for my fellow artists and count them among the catalysts that have propelled me forward.  I completely understand that some readers come to Artsy Forager to discover new artists ( follow me on Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter for that– I’ll continue sharing my favorites on those platforms! ) and this new direction may mean a loss of readership.  That’s OK.

For the first time in over four years of writing this blog, it will truly be my voice, my vision, my soul being shared.  I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me!

Daily Artsy Figurative Paintings

Cages. Bradley Wood.

Every person’s cage is of a different sort.  We may feel trapped by our jobs, our circumstances, even the things that we own.  Even the most opulent and luxurious of places can seem like a prison.  As I begin contemplating a new body of work, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of freedom, of space to move.  A feeling of space doesn’t necessarily correlate to a large building– depending on our state of mind, we can feel more free in a tiny studio than an extravagant mansion.

Bradley Wood | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings Bradley Wood | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings Bradley Wood | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings Bradley Wood | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings Bradley Wood | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings

For us, feeling confined correlates with traffic and overpopulation.  We feel most free surrounded only by  trees and mountains.  But for you, it might be different.  The thought of being out in the wide open wild might seem incredibly imprisoning.  The important thing is to be able to identify what it is that makes you feel free and then run headlong straight for it.

Paintings above by artist Bradley Wood.  To see more of his work, please visit his website.

All images are via the artist’s website.

Abstract Art Daily Artsy Paintings

Seizing. Benjamin Britton.

We know that we have at least three months here in Southeastern Idaho.  But we are now into Autumn and the season can be short lived at the higher elevations where we most want to explore.  So Mr. F and I have been up before the sun each Saturday to drive up to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, to seize the opportunity to explore before the snows set in.

Benjamin Britton | artsy forager #art #artists #abstractart Benjamin Britton | artsy forager #art #artists #abstractart Benjamin Britton | artsy forager #art #artists #abstractart Benjamin Britton | artsy forager #art #artists #abstractart Benjamin Britton | artsy forager #art #artists #abstractart

In each new place we find ourselves, there is a sense of urgency to see as much of the area as possible, for we never know if or when we’ll be back that way again.  It creates in us a habit of seeking out the best in each place, of seizing every opportunity.  Every time we are surprised by the locals who hardly ever venture out, who’ve never even heard of places we’ve been in their own backyard.  I hope that even when we settle down, this sense of urgency to explore will never wane.

In his work, Georgia based artist Benjamin Britton is “making paintings which foreground an experience of the senses, and where moments of adventure and wonder are privileged over other moments.”  May they always be so.

To see more of Benjamin Britton‘s work, please visit his website.

All images are via the artist’s website.

Abstract Art Daily Artsy Paintings

Space.  Tom Climent.

Now that we are settled in for the next three months in Idaho Falls, we’ve been exploring the surrounding area every weekend.  This part of Idaho is a close neighbor to Wyoming and Montana, Big Sky country.  That hemmed in feeling that we’d been experiencing in the Bay Area seems like a far away memory when standing in the middle of a Yellowstone valley, with only the bison for company.

Tom Climent | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings #abstractart Tom Climent | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings #abstractart Tom Climent | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings #abstractart Tom Climent | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings #abstractart Tom Climent | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings #abstractart

These paintings by Irish painter Tom Climent “reminds us of how our spatial ability becomes spatial knowledge as we navigate our world and with this knowledge we create a place for ourselves.”  Most of us have it within our control to decide what our place in this world looks like.  The places we occupy, whether permanently or just for a time, effect our psyche, offering chaos or peace.

To see more of Tom Climent‘s work, please visit his website.

All images are via the artist’s website.