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!
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!
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 Arttonight!
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.
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.
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 ), 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Wildand 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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—
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.