Thursday, June 22, 2017

Breathing the Forest

Breathing the Forest is up and ready to go! 

Opening Night is Friday, June 23, 2017 from 5 to 7pm

Exhibition continues until July 30, 2017
Lake Placid Centre for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Road, Lake Placid, NY

Breathing the Forest book available HERE

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Living Energy Behind the Form

When I paint I seem to enter an eternal present, a place where time and space drop away and I am fully alive and participating in the moment. It's as if I can feel all the molecules around me and in me vibrating together.  If I stop to notice this I break the spell, it's like trying to grasp onto a memory or a dream fragment that is just at the edge of your consciousness. The minute you look at it directly it dissipates. 

And so it is that I must enter the studio and leave my "thinking brain" behind...this is hard cause I like thinking, I am very attached to thinking. I am a curious cat and attracted to ideas and thoughts like a moth to a candle. However the practice of painting teaches me more about what I need to know in the present moment. My conscious mind may think I need to learn about a certain idea or concept but my painting brain absorbs and filters those ideas into non verbal expressions of a stronger, deeper vein. It is my unconscious mind that mines the depths for hidden jewels or as yet undiscovered truths. As I descend into this unknown place I experience a plethora of unexpected emotions; grief, sadness, anger, angst, loss and I allow myself to feel them all, fully. Staying with these feelings is often difficult and 
scary but always worthwhile as they weave their way into the paint and transmute themselves into universal stories of colour and texture.

I have been reading a remarkable book, The Scatterlings by Dr. Martin Shaw, a gifted writer, storyteller and teacher of the living myth. He speaks of the creative process like this:

"In the doing of the thing--the dance, the translation (the painting)--something unexpected happens that takes you far nearer to the spirit of the art than you could ever access in the cautious transcript. You may--just may--taste the awen, the living energy that stands behind the form."

"Wildness is a form of sophistication, because it carries within it true knowledge of our place in the world. It doesn’t exclude civilization but prowls through it, knowing when to attend to the needs of the committee and when to drink from the moonlit lake. It will wear a suit when it has to, but refuses to clip its talons or whiskers. Its sensing-nature is not afraid of emotion: the old stories are full of grief forests and triumphant returns, banquets and bridges of thorns. Myth tells us that the full gamut of feeling is to be experienced. Wildness is the capacity to go into joy, sorrow, and anger fully and stay there for as long as needed, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Sometimes, as Lorca says, it means “get down on all fours for twenty centuries and eat the grasses of the cemeteries. ” Wildness carries sobriety as well as exuberance, and has allowed loss to mark its face."

~Dr. Martin Shaw

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spirit in Nature

spirit (n.) directly from Latin spiritus "a breathing (respiration, and of the wind), breath; breath of a god," hence "inspiration; breath of life," hence "life;" also "disposition, character; high spirit, vigor, courage; pride, arrogance," related to spirare "to breathe."

The word "spirit" has come into my life lately. This happens with words sometimes; they just turn up and keep repeating themselves everywhere. So when I noticed a small sign along the road that said "Spirit in Nature" I made a U-Turn and decided to follow the signs to wherever they might lead me. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Triumvirate of Queens

This is the story of how the Three Queens came to be. The thing about painting is that it takes me on fantastical journeys both within and without. I have learned over time that the process seems to understand me better than I understand myself. I learn what I need to know by painting.  I have also learned to trust this process completely, it's a bit like getting in a boat and letting yourself drift with the river flow, being mindful that you don't get caught up in the rapids but also not controlling the boat more then is necessary to not tip over or crash along the way.

Back to the Queens. It all begins when I suddenly see an image amongst the thousands of photos in my studio. This time it was an ancient old oak tree and it suddenly jumped out of the pile of photos, luminous and wanting to be painted. I begin by deciding what size, this tree was insisting on being at least as tall as me so I chose a 60" high canvas. The larger the canvas the more gesture and movement that goes into the painting.

People are always asking me how long it takes to do a painting.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Artist Project 2017

 This year's Artist Project in Toronto was an exceptional event for me. Many sales and new connections. I am so grateful for all the positive feedback on my new work and I look forward to getting back into the studio for my next solo show at Lake Placid Centre for the Arts opening June 23!

A few shots of the final booth set up on Opening Night which was very well attended as you can see! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Toronto Artist Project 2017

The last few months has seen a steady rhythmic production of new paintings. The wintery months in Montreal usually turn me into an introvert who hunkers down in the studio all day, returning home in the early evening to eat a meal and read until bedtime. The days are short, the light is limited and the temperature is cold outside. 

This year there has been the added preoccupation of a frightening political situation south of the border. There seems to be a constant barrage of information and events that is simultaneously promoting fear and hatred as it also awakens people to rise up in a shared love of humanity and our planet. It feels both inspiring and frightening to watch this tension of opposites become more and more polarized. I understand the world through intuition and feeling. It is my intuition that if we are able to hold the tension between the opposites long enough perhaps a third way will be born or made known to us. I feel the familiar crumbling away and the earth shifting, it feels dangerous and uncertain. All I can do is trust the process that is unfolding, speak up when my heart tells me to and PAINT. I paint to learn what it is I need to know. My paintings are always ahead of my own understanding of life and so I follow their lead and let them guide me.

All of this is showing up in my work as a fervent inner burning that transmutes into brighter and bolder colours!  This video is a brief glimpse into some of the newest work:


Next Tuesday I will load the car with all the new work and head for Toronto to exhibit at The Artist Project , a large contemporary Art Fair of 250 artists. Please help me to spread the word and come by yourself if you are in the area! Always a fun event to attend and I'd love to see you! Stop by at booth 922 and say hi!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Beyond Blue

A new painting that was begun at Vermont Studio Centre where I began exploring the color blue. I just finished this piece in the Montreal studio a day after Solstice.

Beyond Blue, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48" 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mourning Light

An exhibition of recent paintings by Holly Friesen at Les Mots Tremblant 

- Opening Friday, December 16, 5-7pm -
Mont Tremblant, QC 

exhibition continues until January 21, 2017 and closes with a Brunch from 11-3pm

"The transformation of the heart is a wondrous thing, no matter how you arrive there."
~Patti Smith

This exhibition is dedicated to Walt Pascoe, the love of my life, whose passing from the earth on the solstice of last year has been mourned in the sweetest light possible.
The only way my heart could survive this loss was to paint my way through it.  After having mourned his absence for a full year I find his presence in everything I see and touch.

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