This Artsy Life


I’ve never been an early riser.  So catching the sun rise over the Atlantic when I lived in Florida didn’t happen often.  But being on the West Coast, sunsets have become my happy place.  At least three evenings a week, the Mr. and I walk the mile and a half from our apartment then down (and back up, ugh!) 188 steps to Richmond Beach on Puget Sound.  Many Friday evenings we take a bottle of wine and end the week watching the colors slowly shift over the Sound.  It is an incredibly peaceful and lovely way to begin the weekend.

Sunset over Richmond Beach

Last night’s display was so incredible that Instagrammers all over the Seattle area were posting their sunset views.  We were all taking in and experiencing the same collective beauty but each from our own unique perspective.  What a gift of a communal yet individual experience!

These magical sunset views are informing my new work in the VENTERS series– not always literally, but in the way the light becomes soft and dreamy, how the sun melts into the horizon, the way the colors morph and move one into another.

See the current VENTERS paintings on my website here.  The newer paintings are even softer and more dreamy, if you can believe it!  Can’t wait to show you.

Image by me.


Inspiration Overload.

One of the big advantages to our current traveling lifestyle is how many amazing places we are able to see.   These adventures are a huge source of inspiration for me as an artist.  But seeing so many incredible sights can also lead to a bit of inspiration overload and lead my artsy brain in all sorts of different directions!

With each new location, each new season, comes a whole new set of inspirations!  So how does one artist handle so many different sources of inspiration?

How I deal with artistic inspiration overload | artsy forager #artistblog #art #artists #inspiration

For me, I keep my eyes open and take special notice of what inspires me, not just once, but on a continual basis.  It’s easy to find one spark, but the trick is finding what will continue to spark over and over and over.  Look not for the firecracker, but the forest fire– the spark that leaps and creates more sparks, more fire.

Lake Coeur dAlene | How I deal with artistic inspiration overload | artsy forager #artistblog #art #artists #inspiration Diamond Lake | How I deal with artistic inspiration overload | artsy forager #artistblog #art #artists #inspiration

I make note but I don’t necessarily pursue those sparks right away.  My sketchbook is full of idea scribbles, some pretty well developed, others simply notes on colors and forms.  I also have a folder on my phone where I dump those quick sparks when I don’t have my sketchbook handy.  Then, there is my favorite inspiration keeper– Pinterest!  I have at least half a dozen boards where I hoard visual inspirations from subject matter to color palettes.  I keep them private so they are for my eyes only until I decide I am ready to share them with the world.

How I deal with artistic inspiration overload | artsy forager #artistblog #art #artists #inspiration

I commit myself to what I’m especially inspired by at the moment and concentrate on exploring that inspirational idea fully.  Each inspiration exploration becomes a series of work to be revisited again and again as I continue to find new ways to express that initial spark.

How I deal with artistic inspiration overload | artsy forager #artistblog #art #artists #inspiration

Once I feel like I’m done exploring a certain subject for a while, I’m ready to move on to another idea.  But how to decide?  Sometimes it takes some exploration in the studio to see what is moving me creatively or it could be as simple as how excited about an idea I am!  The most exciting prospect wins!

At the moment, I’m exploring beachy and coastal inspiration in my VENTERS series– it is proving to be perfect for the coming summer on Puget Sound!

All images by me.

My Paintings VENTERS series

True. Artistic Identity.

Soft, moody.  Bold & brushy.  Which am I?

Once, in a job interview, I was asked what my favorite fashion brand was.  I told the interviewer, I would love to be a Free People girl.  But I think I’m more Anthropologie.  And I think it’s the same with painting.  I’ve gone through this questioning before, a few years ago, and thought I’d come to a happy conclusion.

But voices come in from all directions and we give them heed, perhaps we should but more than likely we shouldn’t.

Am I making work that makes my heart sing, that challenges me or am I making work that focuses on the way other people respond to it?

Give Me Your Forever by Lesley Frenz | artsy forager #art #artists #paintings #abstractart

give me your forever, 2016, acrylic on cradled wood panel, 12×12

available at art & light gallery

I’m a quiet person.  I’m not loud or brash or even sparkly.  I’m introspective.  Some might say mysterious, since I usually keep my cards close to the vest.  Why would I try to make work that doesn’t reflect who I truly am?

As I was beginning the VENTERS series, I experimented a bit with slightly bolder movement and texture and while successful, the more quiet and soft paintings that have come lately feel more “me”.  I just finished up four more small coastal inspired pieces and am starting on larger canvases this week.  They are turning out beautifully and sharing them will feel like sharing my heart.  As art should be.  I can’t wait for you to see, stay tuned!

Image by me.


Artsy Business

Announcement. Artist Newsletter!!

I have been hearing for years that having a newsletter is mucho important for any online presence.  And yet, for some reason I resisted.  UNTIL NOW!

Newsletter graphic

I’ve been getting requests on social media for folks to be notified when new work is available, when larger pieces are available, etc., so instead of making you guys do the work of checking the website or keeping up with social media posts, you can now be notified first thing when new work is ready for your eyes!  Newsletter subscribers will get first access to new paintings and more!

You can sign up for my artist newsletter, From The Easel, over on the blog sidebar–

Newsletter sign graphic

Or sign up here!

I promise not to bombard your inbox with emails.  The newsletter will be periodic– monthly or bi-monthly at the most– I need time to paint!

Thanks bunches, guys!

My Paintings Process

Practice. The 100 Day Project.

I’ve never been good at keeping a sketchbook, or even painting daily unless I can block off a few studio hours to really paint.  So the idea of creating something every day for 100 days was intimidating, but the idea of pushing myself in that way really excited me.

With a bit of trepidation, on Tuesday, April 19th, I began #the100dayproject, committing to creating every day for 100 days and sharing the results on Instagram.

Working within certain parameters would, I knew, make this process easier to document and control, so I decided to create 100 small artworks on 6×6 vellum ( I’m addicted to these little guys for quick sketches ).  I started with acrylics for the first few pieces, whipping out quick little paintings while I worked on bigger canvases in the studio.

1 of 100_acrylic on vellum_6x6

But I soon switched to watercolor, as it just so happened that the beginning of the project coincided with our prep to move from OR to WA, so the watercolors were much easier to whip out while my acrylics were packed away.

13 of 100_watercolor on vellum_6x6 7 of 100_watercolor on vellum_6x6 22 of 100_watercolor on vellum_6x6 24 of 100_watercolor on vellum_6x6

And I do believe a love affair with watercolor has begun!  A large part of what artists who have participated in #the100dayproject have experienced has been a creative breakthrough or the discovery of a new technique or new palette or approach.  I don’t plan to give up acrylics, but I do think I’ll be exploring watercolor on a larger scale very soon!

You can follow my #the100dayproject progress by following me on Instagram or searching the hashtag #100littleartworks.  There is also now a #100littleartworks page on my artist site that I’ll be updating periodically.

I’m enjoying this new journey!  Have you ever participated in a daily creative challenge?  What did it do for you?

Images by me.

VENTERS series

Finding Venters. Inspiration.

It seems like one coast or another has always been a part of my life.  Growing up in Florida, I spent a lot of Saturdays collecting seashells with my mom on white sand beaches.  Then five years ago, Mr. F and I crossed the country and I was introduced to the Pacific Ocean and the beaches of the Northwest.

I carry both with me and both coasts have inspired this new series, Venters.  The title of the series, Venters, is the word for what the wind or tide drives in from the ocean upon a wave.

Photo May 17, 8 57 52 PM Photo Apr 01, 6 19 17 PM

I love the way the light bounces off the waves, how the sand glistens in the afterglow of each kiss of the waves upon the shore.

Trinidad sky Richmond beach shore

And at the breaking and closing of the day, the coastal waters light up like the sea glass jewels they wash upon the sand.  At those times, it seems that the ocean quiets and the earth revolves a bit more slowly.  It is that feeling that I hope the Venters paintings capture.

All images by me.


My Paintings VENTERS series

New. Venters.

As I was finishing up the work for my LATITUDE show, my mind was already overflowing with ideas for my next body of work.  But I was having a hard time narrowing my scope.  Then my hubby and I took a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast.  And my new series, VENTERS, was born.

Venters collage

A dozen new paintings in my VENTERS series are now available at Art & Light Gallery in Greenville, SC! You can also see all of the work on my website.  More on the inspiration behind this new series, coming soon!  I can’t wait to see how our new spot near Puget Sound influences what is to come.

Daily Artsy

Mapping the Rockies. David Pirrie.

You guys, there are some artist’s work that I just adore.  And I just can’t help but share with you when such an artist has a new body of work to share or a solo show that you must see!  Artist David Pirrie has a solo show, Mapping the Rockies, at Ian Tan Gallery in Vancouver, BC until April 30th.

In the artist’s own words, “I use the dots and grids to represent coordinate plotting, metaphorically pointing to the impermanence of their man-made structures that attempt to prescribe location at the intersection of human and geological time. I also paint evidence of erosion, hoping to remind us of the temporal nature of the mountains which, seemingly anchored in time, force us to acknowledge our transient existence on this earth.”

Pirrie_Mt-Phillips-BC-Rockies-24x24-700 Pirrie_Mt-Garibaldi-Warren-Glacier-30x36-700 Pirrie_Mt-Sir-Sanford-48x60-700 Pirrie_Columbia-Icefield-1_125000-Rockies-62x62-700 1-12

If you are in the Vancouver area, get to Ian Tan Gallery & see this show before it closes!  See the show paintings here and more of David’s work on his website.

Images from Ian Tan Gallery and David Pirrie.

Artsy About Town

Artsy About Town. La Jolla.

This past weekend we took a long overdue break.  Mr. F and I flew down to San Diego to spend time with our close friends, the James.  Our friends had a family funeral on Friday, so we were left to our own devices once we arrived in San Diego.  We decided to spend the day in one of the most beautiful spots in So Cal, La Jolla.


Since we knew a lot of our time with the James’ would involve chasing and being chased by three adorable little boys, we wanted the first day of our little vacation to be as peaceful as possible.  So we wandered along the ocean shore, breathing in the salty air, drawn in by the turquoise water and blooming coastal wildflowers.

It was a day for slow wandering.  So of course, we found ourselves drifting through a few of La Jolla’s galleries.  Our favorite by far was Madison Gallery on Wall Street.  The current exhibition, Gods of Suburbia by Dina Goldstein was visually arresting and symbolically engaging.


dina goldstein and shelley adler


robert montgomery


hunt slonem


miya ando


una noger

It was such a pleasure to finally experience the work of Hunt Slonem and Miya Ando in person.  There is so much more to them in real life than you will ever see online.

Our wandering also took us over the MOCA La Jolla to see the Ed Ruscha show, Then & Now: Paintings from the 1960s and 2000s.  While Ruscha’s work isn’t Mr. F’s thing, I loved seeing this collection of his past and present work.  Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area!


ed ruscha at MOCA la jolla

But perhaps the best thing was simply the air and the inspiration.  After we paid a visit to the Oregon Coast a few weeks ago, I’ve been working on a series of coastal inspired paintings and this trip definitely added to my inspiration supply.


How about you?  Any inspiration trips planned?  Any interesting gallery shows you’ve seen lately?

Images by me.

LATITUDE Show & Series My Paintings Process

Steps. Process of a Painting.

When I look at a painting, I always wonder how the artist arrived at its eventual conclusion.  How did they begin?  How did the painting evolve and what choices did the artist make along the way?

So I thought you guys might be interested in seeing the journey that one of my LATITUDE paintings took.  I always begin with covering the canvas in a medium-toned ground.  My favorite way to begin is with a creamy salmon pink tone in which I will often work out the basic composition by adding lights and darks.

Then I’ll start mapping in the bigger spaces in the painting.. In this painting, the sky was the first thing I started working.  I knew the sky would end up being very light and foggy feeling but I always start with fairly saturated color and just keep pushing it back by painting on light layer after light layer.


I actually posted a photo at the stage above on Instagram & Facebook and lots of folks assumed it was a finished painting!  I guess it could have been, there was definitely something about this stage that I really liked.

The next stages involve refining and shaping.  The original flatness of the land shape wasn’t working for me, so I extended it up the side of the canvas to create more depth and draw the eye farther up the canvas.  More depth and texture was added to the landforms so that they felt less like a marsh and more like the Pacific cliffs I’d intended.


In addition to adding depth in the form of darks and lines, the next stages involved adding light color and expressive marks to the landform shapes while continuing to lighten up and push back the sky.

Process collage

Looking back, I am really drawn to those expressive marks in the right photo above.  Some of that expression was retained, but I do wonder what would have been if I’d been able to retain that feeling but it wasn’t to be this time..


This ^ was the point in which I was really wrestling with this one.  I was happy with where that sky section was and I loved the feeling of depth I was getting in the upper section, but the lower 2/3 was a whole other story.  Somewhere along the way, I’d lost the expressiveness and definition and while I love misty-softness, it was feeling way too blah.  Plus that wandering water shape coming down the middle was losing it’s jagged edges so it looked less like a tributary and more like a sock.  Womp womp!!

I kept plugging away and got to this point before needing to leave the studio for dinner with Mr. F.


I try to get as much done as possible in the studio during the day so that we can have our evenings together.  But there are nights that I just can’t call it a day, I feel so driven to come to a stopping point I’m happy with for the day, whether that is a finished painting or not.  So I went back over to the studio after our dinner.  Sometimes those evenings at the easel are just what I need– I crank the music ( something I can’t do during the day in my shared Ashland studio ) and just work until I get to that happy point.  Luckily for this painting, the happy point for the night was a finished painting.

Frenz_Tenderness and Time_2015_acrylic on canvas_36x36

tenderness & time (48.53.53 N), acrylic on canvas, 36×36; ScanSource collection

While the music wafted through the studio, I upped the contrast, added more color and texture through transparent washes in rich greens, turquoises and purples.  I took back the jagged shape of the water coming through the cliffs and what resulted was a painting that was one of my favorites in the LATITUDE show.

See the step by step progress in the .gif below!  Hey ya’ll, I created a gif!  I’m so proud.


The process of this painting is pretty typical for me.  I wrestled a bit more than usual with this one, but there is always a bit of tussling involved to get to the vision in my head.  One day perhaps the process will move a bit more swiftly and easily, but I’m not sure I would get the same amount of satisfaction if it were too easy to accomplish.  If it were easy everyone would do it, right?

All images by me.