If you’re on Instagram, use the tag #latitudefound to share photos of the places where you’ve found room to breathe. I’ll be sharing a few each week on my Instagram feed!
Image by me.
If you’re on Instagram, use the tag #latitudefound to share photos of the places where you’ve found room to breathe. I’ll be sharing a few each week on my Instagram feed!
Image by me.
Back when we spent a year on the Northern California coast, one thing ( besides snow in winter ) we found ourselves really missing– big mountains. The coastal mountains have their own drama and magnificence but we really missed those high mountain peaks and valleys. So we made sure to carve out a week to mark a must-see national park off our bucket list– Yosemite.
We spent a week in late August of 2014 camping in Yosemite’s grandeur. The months leading up to our trip had been stressful– hubby hadn’t had any time off in nearly a year, my mom had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and we had dealt with my own health scare, which turned out to be nothing but was very frightening nonetheless. We were in serious need of quiet time together in the wild.
If you’ve been to Yosemite in late summer, you can attest that time alone is a bit hard to come by. The park had over 4 million visitors in 2014 and I swear the majority of that number were there at the same time we were! To avoid crowds, we tried to get out early and stay out late, and chose to avoid the more popular trails in favor of the paths less traveled.
The California Sierras have such a unique look to them– the tall pines and cedars intermixed with granite peaks and rocky river beds. In places like these, it’s easy to understand why California holds such a mythical, magical allure. Our early morning and late evenings gave me a glimpse of the magnificent way the light moves among the peaks and through the valleys. Sunrise at Tunnel View is a mind blowing experience! As is driving the park road after dark, the car lights your only illumination as the trees rise above.
favorite trail | glacier point to nevada falls
Glacier Point was only about a 15 minute drive from our campground, so we spent more time exploring there than other areas of the park. Our last full day in Yosemite, we awoke before dawn and hiked from Glacier Point out to Nevada Falls ( you can take the trail all the way to the Valley floor or up to Half Dome but we wanted a nice, quiet hike, not a death march ). Starting so early meant that we were treated to not only a spectacular, misty sunrise over Half Dome but we had the trail to ourselves for most of the morning. It was the first time in the whole week were were there that we really felt at peace and were able to soak in Yosemite’s wilderness.
don’t forget | astronomy app
The weather was so perfect while we were there that we slept without the rain fly on our tent every night, so we were treated to looking up into the star-filled night sky while drifting off to dreamland. Unlike so many areas of California, ambient light is kept at bay in Yosemite and the darkness allows the starry sky to truly shine.
what I love most | sunrise
So we are normally very far from morning people. But something happens when we are camping– we can’t wait to get up and see what the day will hold. The days we rose before the sun in Yosemite we drank in the way the light poured in, not many people yet stirring, we were able to watch the wilderness come alive. Get up early in Yosemite. You won’t regret it.
All photos by me.
When lamenting my delay in beginning to paint seriously again, an artist friend told me– you needed time to fill up. Looking back on the experiences of the last five years, I realized how very right she was. Florida has its own beauties and is inspirational in its own right, but it wasn’t until we began traveling the Northwest that something long buried was awakened in me.
My first job in the art and design world post-college was as a photo researcher for a stock image licensing company. I worked in the editorial department, selecting images for publishers of books and magazines. I distinctly remember being especially enthralled by images from the Northwest, specifically Olympic National Park. I was particularly taken with the images from the Hoh Rainforest— a rainforest? In the US? I knew I wanted to see it.
We’ve been lucky enough to live a close distance to the Olympics twice now, the first time being our very first travel gig. We made our way to ONP as much as we could during those first thirteen weeks, we hiked and backpacked, taken in by the cool, lush, fern covered forests, turquoise Hoh River, and towering Olympic Mountains.
I had my first from-the-trail bear sighting in the Olympics. The feeling there is of a primeval wilderness, something out of another time. Driving into the park, you lose cell service and don’t miss it. You are transported to a different century.
Not being a “major” national park, there is a peace and a sense of quiet in the Olympics that can be hard to find in the more popular parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. What you hear is only the rush of a waterfall, the rustle of the wind through the forest, your breath as your climb.
The Olympics continue to inspire and inform my work, the lushness and sense of quiet, its coolness and mystery.
favorite trail | Staircase Trail
There may be more dramatic and challenging hikes in ONP but this one holds a special place in my heart. We took to this hike on a sprinkly Fall morning and after a hectic summer in Seattle, the quiet and peace we found was exactly what was needed. The trail leads past enormous felled cedars, fern covered forest floors, rocky riverbeds.
don’t forget your | Layers and rain gear
The weather in ONP can be variable and unpredictable, temperatures range depending on the area of the park and elevation. The Hoh Rainforest gets an average of 144″ of rain per year, so definitely make sure you have your rain gear when venturing into the Hoh.
what i love most | What the water brings
The wet atmosphere of the Olympics provides the ideal conditions for a lush, incredibly green forest. The ferns and mosses make my heart happy, especially when sunlight streams through amidst the misty rain.
Have you been to Olympic National Park? What was your impression? Favorite area? I’m always on the lookout for tips because I never know when we’ll be back on the Olympic Peninsula!
All images by me.
has two meanings–
Before I was approached by Teresa Roche at Art & Light last Fall to present a solo show of work in March of this year, I had already been working on nature based abstracts and abstract landscapes. Exploring wild and scenic places is a big part of our life and travels, so it has been a natural well of inspiration.
When beginning to think about the body of work I wanted to create for my first solo show, I knew I would be seeking to capture not just a place on a map but the feelings of freedom, peace, and beauty in the experience of a particular moment in that place– LATITUDE.
mr. f on the rocks in trinidad, california
mt rainier, washington
Traveling the Northwest with my hubby provides me with endless artistic inspiration and with both of us endless moments of beauty to share. While many of the places that have inspired the LATITUDE show and series are incredibly beautiful, often the sense of specialness was not simply in the place itself, but perhaps in the way the light bounced off the water, the quietness of a morning beach all to ourselves, the way the landscape brought us peace, brought us joy.
friday harbor, san juan islands, washington
Over the coming weeks leading up to LATITUDE’s opening, I’ll be sharing more images, experiences, and inspiration from some of these very special places. You can see more of the places inspiring LATITUDE on Instagram, by searching #findinglatitude.
All photos by me.
As any artist will tell you, having a studio space to call your own is a privilege, a luxury. Since Mr. F and I are moving from furnished rental to furnished rental as we travel, the options among rentals in our budget range can be slim. And to be able to have a studio space to boot? Such splendor!
I know what it is to work from the dining room table or a corner of a 500 square foot studio, right across from where we sleep each night. So imagine how spoiled I’ve felt in our Idaho Falls and Ashland rentals, where I’ve had actual studio spaces from which to work!
While we are traveling, Mr. F & I often debate how we want to live and work when we settle down for good. As my painting practice grows, the conversation around my eventual studio also increases. Do we want to try to incorporate a studio space within the walls of our home? Or a backyard building? Or how would renting a studio nearby work for me and our lifestyle?
Not everyone gets to try out their options before making such a monumental decision. But lucky me! I’ve had two separate studio spaces now and find myself comparing and weighing the pros & cons of each. Since you may be on the cusp of making a similar choice, I thought I’d share some photos and how each space does and doesn’t work for me as an artist.
Finding a rental in Idaho Falls was more of a challenge than we expected, especially after coming off of renting in the Bay Area. The little apartment we settled on was in a 1920s Craftsman triplex near downtown, admittedly not the nicest or biggest rental we looked at but what sold me on it was the tiny extra room on the front flooded with light– perfect for my studio.
When I say tiny, I mean teeny tiny. I think the space was about 50 square feet, the size of a small walk in closet. But there was a desk and room for my portable easel and thanks to the west facing windows, tons of sunlight. And bonus– the historic nature of the building meant charming details like wide window casings and a coved ceiling.
What I loved–
Ease of work time. I could paint and sketch whenever I wanted to. Early morning ( not usual, not a morning person ), in between freelance work/emailing, while doing laundry, while beginning dinner, late at night.
Keeping the work close. Having my workspace in our living space keeps my mind in the work nearly all the time. It helps with the germination process, the thoughtful process that happens when you’re examining what you’ve done and where you want it to go. I like to take peeks at my work in different lights and times of day. I find myself gazing critically and lovingly while passing through to the bathroom in the middle of the night. That’s not weird or anything, right??
Proximity to the hubby. While we were in Idaho Falls, we were camping in Yellowstone or The Grand Tetons every weekend but one. But normally, I spend at least one weekend afternoon painting while Mr. F works on his CEUs or brews a batch of beer. It’s always nice to be in the same space, even when we’re engaged in separate activities. Lovey-doveyness and all that.
What I didn’t love–
Lack of separation between freelance work & studio work. Because I used that tiny space as both my office and studio, it made it a bit too easy to continuously check work emails while waiting for paint layers to dry. So instead of being totally in a creative headspace, my mind was often distracted.
Lack of space. The extra room was very, very small. There wasn’t much wall or floor space to speak of, which meant my work and supplies found themselves drifting out into our living space. Not really ideal, especially when trying to find a place to put unattractive things like shipping materials. Since the plan for our eventual home is a living space around 800-900 total square feet, studio space within such a small size would be minimal. So in the future, especially as I paint more and bigger work, we might be dealing with these same issues.
Westward facing windows. The west facing windows meant lots of light on overcast afternoons but on sunny days I was driven out of the studio around 3:30 due not only to the intensity of the light, but also how warm it got. Our apartment was on the 2nd floor and fully 10-15 degrees warmer than downstairs at all times. Sunny afternoons in the studio felt like being in a broiler. The position of your light is something it’s easy to overlook but can definitely cause headaches. Literally and figuratively.
I loved this little studio. It holds a special place in my heart, perhaps because it is where I started my work for LATITUDE and my work grew into something I began to be truly excited about. The architecture of the space felt very “me” and I loved keeping my work so close.
Every time we move, we head into the unknown, especially with our living space. I was very nervous to give up my tiny IF studio and go back to working from a corner of our rental. I never dreamed I would be gifted with access to a 400 square foot studio.
So when I told our Ashland landlord I was a painter and planned to put up Dexter-style sheeting in a corner of our rental’s bedroom as my studio, he met my idea with a surprising offer. Turns out the building next to our duplex housed his woodworking & blacksmithing workshop and upstairs he was finishing the building of– you guessed it– a painting studio. Which he offered me use of, free of charge. What??!!! Talk about a god send.
What I love–
Space, space, space! To go from the tiny studio in Idaho Falls to a space in which I could really spread out was a dream. I have the space to work on the larger pieces I had planned for the LATITUDE show at Art & Light and to be able to see all the pieces for the show as I’m working and allowing them to influence what’s on the easel.
Close but separate. The studio is next door to our rental, so I can pop over when I need to, but preserve the separation of living and work spaces. Mr. F doesn’t see as much of my process, so it leads to a fun “reveal” moment when I take him over to the studio to show a finished piece. I also leave the laptop at home, leaving with it the tendency to multi-task between freelance work and painting.
Freedom to work dirty. Even though the space was newly finished, my landlord assured me that it was OK to let the paint fly. So no putting up sheeting or worrying too much about drips and splats. It definitely helps keep my mind on the process when I don’t have to fret that I might be getting paint anywhere but the canvas.
What I don’t love–
Shared space. For an introvert like me it is hard for me to work in a freely creative way in a shared space. While I usually have my painting studio to myself, I have to walk through my landlord’s workspace to get there, which means– gasp!— small talk. He is perfectly nice and lovely and I do enjoy our interactions, but my little introverted brain just wants to go to my studio and work. For the first month, I had the space upstairs completely to myself, but part of the space is now being utilized three afternoons a week for music lessons. Which puts a kink in my schedule but also means that there are eyes on my work when I may not want them to be and I can’t spread out in the same way as before.
Less than ideal use of space. While the space is large, it isn’t totally mine and there are fixed furnishings whose placement wouldn’t make sense for a permanent studio, at least for me. In the middle of one wall is a giant flat screen over a gas heater/stove. While the stove makes things cozy, the placement of the tv and stove in the middle of a large wall limits the usable space. There is a separate utility sink and sink in the studio bathroom, the utility sink taking up usable space in the studio when it could have been placed in the bathroom. A space that’s not your own will always mean compromising your ideal way of working. A disadvantage to renting a studio away from home.
Separation from my work. I miss not being surrounded by my work. After finishing a painting, I go through this kind of honeymoon period where I want to gaze at it and analyze it. Not being able to see the work whenever I want to makes it a challenge to keep it dominating my headspace, important when working on a cohesive body of work for a show.
Separation from the hubby. As I mentioned above, Mr. F and I often spend a weekend afternoon engaging in separate pursuits. I do miss being close by while I paint. Yes, it’s just a few steps away, but it feels much farther because it isn’t our space, if that makes any sense.
I feel incredibly blessed by having access to this beautiful space. If it were my own, would I change some things? Absolutely. But do I pinch myself every day I use it? Definitely.
Would love to hear what type of studio you’re working from and how it works for you!
Artsy Forager is now Lesley Frenz! On social media, anyway. Here on the blog, you can still call me Artsy. Or Lesley. Or hey you with the paintbrush!
With the advent of a new year I decided it was time to retire the Artsy Forager handle on social media.
Obviously, I’m still blogging here at artsyforager.com, but with an increased focus on my personal studio practice, I need to be known as an artist who occasionally blogs rather than a blogger who sometimes paints. Know what I mean?
I still own the Artsy Forager handle on all the various social media platforms, so if you tag AF I will still see it, but I won’t be updating any of those feeds.
Let’s go, 2016!
only love can bring the rain, 2015, acrylic on canvas panel, 6×6
As the year comes to an end, I choose to focus on the positive things that happened this year. There were so many! Because I love a good list, here’s a wrap up–
Blog posts published 169
Total consulting projects completed 17
Paintings sold 2 (!!)
States lived in 3
Towns lived in 4
National parks visited 6
Hikes taken & inspiration gained COUNTLESS
It has been an amazing year despite the stress, the worrying, the painful loss. I am ready to get a new year underway as I prepare for my March show at Art & Light Gallery and can’t wait to see what else 2016 brings!
Happy New Year!
Wishing each and every one of you a very happy Christmas!
I’ll be back after the new year to share more from the Artsy studio!
Hiya artsies! I’ve been super sick this week with a horrible cold– that always seems to happen around the holidays, doesn’t it? But I just had to pop in and tell you about this amazing show opening at Voltage Coffee and Art tonight!
The show, Jealously Curated, is the brainchild of artists Jenny Brown, Jessica Brilli, and Anna Jensen. Jealously Curated is a collection of work by East Coast artists who all have one thing in common: they have all been featured on Danielle Krysa’s wildly popular blog, The Jealous Curator. For the first time on the East Coast, alums of the blog have organized a show at Voltage Art and Coffee to share their latest work—and to celebrate the blog that inspired and brought them together.
Artists and art bloggers are an incredibly supportive community and I absolutely loved this idea when I heard about it! If you’re in the Cambridge area, be sure and check it out! You can find more info on the show on the Voltage website.
I’ve featured several of these artists here, if you’d like to check out their Forager features– Jenny Brown, Jessica Brilli, Leah Giberson, Jeremy Miranda. And of course, check out the websites of all these amazingly talented artists!
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.