Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Road Home (now less travelled)

Here is the completed 36" x 48" painting of the 8" x 10" graphite and acrylic sketch done previously

I enjoy doing the small version first as I can plan things and then let loose in the larger version with more confidence and zest!
Today I read (on @KellyDiels blog) these words.. "leavings have led to profound findings"

Sometimes letting go of old forms is so frightening and painful that we cling fast to them which leaves little space for the new forms to emerge and grow.
I have managed to let go and a vast expansive space has opened up before me, far greater than I ever even imagined was possible.

This "road home" serves as a metaphor for leave taking, expanding and a rediscovery of the home that lives within.

Posted via email from hollyfriesen's posterous

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sounds of Release

Painting by @holly59 / Poetry by @lilyofoz

you cannot give 
what you never had
your soul caves in
your mind scrambles
for a shovel

release the sounds
send them on their merry way
back to the sorrow filled houses
where music lay still
as a graveside after the weeping

send them back to the carnivals
the smoky bars
the houses of shouting
the wanting
the wanting
the gaping mouths of need

beads of sweat
on my forehead
roll down my nose
drip onto my chest
i absorb them back
into my body

Posted via email from hollyfriesen's posterous

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wild, Psychedelic, Studio Trip!

Today was like a psychedelic trip into color! My brushes started to move in a new way, partly influenced by @katost and her use of dancing lines, and partly by an impressive exhibition I recently saw by landscape painter, David Alexander . The colors and brushes just started to sing on their own, it felt like learning a new form of calligraphy but one that I already knew how to read and write intuitively. As long as I didn't stop to analyze or think but just kept moving and dancing, this flow of "writing colors" kept flowing! It was all I could do to contain myself and relax into this new freedom of mark making that I was experiencing. It was like trying to remember a dream, the more one relaxes and doesn't "think" about it, the more the dream is revealed. It felt so simple and familiar yet it is something I could never have done consciously or even have attempted before today. The painting process never ceases to amaze me!

Rocks, Rivers & Forest Pools

I am back with my beloved rocks again. I take these wild detours away from them and then all of sudden, there they are again! I am so in love with painting rocks! My paint brushes are smoldering from all their use today! Had the music cranked and literally danced my whole body into these paintings. They are side by side and both relatively large canvases so they are a joy to bounce back and forth from. Painting rocks is like building something with my hands. I once built rock walls for my gardens and it is a similar feeling, a feeling of constructing something, almost like sculpture. I collaged Washi paper (handmade japanese paper) here and there to add to the overall texture. I love to watch how the painting takes on a life of it's own and starts telling me what to do! At first I am unsure, full of doubt and just splash some paint on loosely to block in the composition but then all of a sudden the piece starts to speak and I start to dance! I just LOVE to paint when this happens!

Figures Entwined with Landscape

Monday, October 26, 2009

Out on a Limb

It is rare that I work without a reference photo or sketch but this is one of those pieces that is coming from within. I started it in the early spring, took a different direction and put it back in the storage rack. Pulled it out today and put it on the easel. It was definitely not the painting that I thought I would work on today. Sat on the couch and looked at it and looked at it. Read from Anne Carson, Charles Olson and looked at Kahlil Gibran's paintings as well as photos of the Omo tribe. Thought about my recent trip to California, my Persephone ptg for the Collective Egg project, my last year of living alone, separated from my husband and daughters...and began to paint. This is the result so far. All I have just described is within this painting, all the sorrows and joys, all the beauty and ugliness. I have no words for these things, only images, movement and paint. I was able to translate the ideas of my mind into body movement which became the strokes of paint. This is not a painting about my skill as an artist but a painting that takes me out on a limb and pushes me to the edge of my limits. I am frightened and vulnerable out here but oh so alive!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Redwood Reverie

Redwood Reverie

Centuries soar up vertical trunks,
rivers of wisdom run through veins.
Even fallen ones emanate a life force
from root balls spun into rosettes
revealing hidden galaxies.
Roots that tapped the ground for rhythms
are torn from earth's breast
and encounter atmosphere.
Air rushes upward
towards cathedral's canopy
where needles spray into open sky,
shattering the sun's rays into a
cascade of splintered light.
Fractured sparkles are
caught by shadow nets
casting intricate patterns
across forest floor.
Columns form a temple
reverberating with silence.
Fusing forms become,
while death decays
into a darkness
of terrifying beauty.
Energy vortex
quietly cleaves
open awareness
with penetrating

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Processing a Painting

First the emotional connection to the landscape, then the photo, followed by the pencil or watercolour sketch, finally a small oil sketch that may or may not become a large painting.

Posted via email from hollyfriesen's posterous

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Intimate Landscape


Posted by Picasa

Two of the places in Parc Mont-Tremblant that I have been painting for over 20 years! I return to these waterfalls,woods and river every year. I have painted them in watercolours, acrylics, oils. I have sketched them and photographed them. I have come with friends, family, other artists, and alone. When one sits quietly and begins to look and listen, the landscape reveals herself, slowly at first but over the years, more and more intimately. Today when I returned, my being responded with the first sharp scent of forest, by dropping into an open relaxed state instantly. I could feel the colour green touch my eyes. The sound of the river soothed my head, cool forest air released muscle stiffness. I felt hair curl and skin soften with the moist air. My breathing slowed to match the rhythm of the woods ancient heart beat. I was home.

I sat and walked along the river for many hours, touching, smelling and listening to
a symphony of colour and sound. Today was a day of photographs for future paintings. Photos I will use to provoke memory of this sacred sanctuary that resides both inside and out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blue Prairie Sky

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot

When I saw these photos that a friend recently took I realized that I had found my way home.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

I started off as myself but lost course for a while, not in a bad way, in an exploratory way.
I was curious, I had to try things and see what worked and what didn't. Sometimes I fell,
sometimes I got stuck, sometimes I hurt myself or others but I usually managed to find
my way back to the path that wasn't all that obvious but at least I knew it was there if I
kept walking.

I have returned innocence to a prairie girl who grew up in the
Saskatchewan bush marveling at blue sky holes vibrating between
leaves of trembling aspens.
The sky wrapped around her like a blanket of emptiness
spilling her into an almost painful blue that verged on becoming purple.

She was taught about a sky god that rained blue beauty down
into her childhood world. A god that expressed anger in
thunder and wind and deep purple skies.
She learned to love thunder from her father
who taught her to smell storms and watch them pass
from the shelter of a doorway.

Now, in this moment, today,
my brush sweeps blue strokes
across the canvas and
there is no separation
Sky, brush, blue, god are no longer words
separated by commas but have
become one undivided moment of clarity.
I let go into this lucidity
and am no longer a painter
but when painting I
become the blue prairie sky.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Opening to a Painting

This painting has been working me over for several days. It doesn't help that I am working within the frame of a large barn door and therefore fighting the elements as I paint! Wind, rain, mist, cold have all been by to visit in my barn studio lately. Often I welcome the rhythm of the weather as I paint in this enchanting studio but as high summer begins to blend into early autumn the light & air change, making painting more of a challenge in the barn.
When a painting feels like it is coming into being, it coincides with a certain knowing that starts to settle in my body. This piece was inspired by the interaction of the water and the rocks. The water falling, caressing, in constant flux and the rocks steady, slow presence allowing the falling water to polish & enhance its shapes. I have no idea what I wanted to say about this except that it was nudging me to say something so I started painting. More and more I know less and less about what I am beginning when I start, I have some vague images and ideas but mostly I let the paint guide me. Sometimes I start to become attached to the piece and really like it, which is almost as bad as when I hate it, both are attachments of some form and almost always stop the flow of the piece. Then I grumble and mumble about how much I dislike the whole process and loose confidence in my ability, doubt and insecurity start to creep in and gnaw at me. This is usually when I turn the painting toward the wall and start another piece, this other piece allows me to move out of my stuckness and open up new avenues of thought patterns and feelings to flow in different direcitons. I usually spend some time reading or writing as well. Lately I have been alternating between Rilke's Duino Elegies and The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying, both of which will inform my paintings with their words and ideas. However, so will everything I see, think and feel during this time. When engaged in a painting, everything becomes the painting; the cactus flowers I saw today, the rainbow that arched over the barn, the small grey cat that came to visit, the warm smile of my friend Luis, the tears in a good-bye, the dripping of water into buckets from the leaky barn roof, the patterns of the clouds sweeping across the sky. All of life fuses, becoming an intensely intricate pattern of beauty that pours into paint like liquid silver...I finally let go, and NOW I am painting! Soaring through the empty sky with no limits!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sounds of Release

you cannot give 
what you never had
your soul caves in
your mind scrambles
for a shovel

release the sounds
send them on their merry way
back to the sorrow filled houses
where music lay still
as a graveside after the weeping

send them back to the carnivals
the smoky bars
the houses of shouting
the wanting
the wanting
the gaping mouths of need

beads of sweat
on my forehead
roll down my nose
drip onto my chest
i absorb them back
into my body

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where Does a Painting Come From?

The Opening

Primordial Nature

I paint the landscape because she is a numinous being, she whispers secrets on the wind and directs attention with light. Since childhood the landscape has been my closest companion. If I abandon her at any time I feel unsettled and ill at ease. I need her presence to illuminate my voice. I am always longing to become one with her and sometimes I merge with her through painting. She is full of power and energy and as vital to me as breathing. There is a life force radiating just beneath her surface, sometimes I can see it but more often I feel it as gestures, shapes, textures and above all, as movement.
There is a dance within the landscape that my own body want to follow; rhythms, patterns and gestures all animate my brush in response to the landscape.

Lately, long thin drips of paint are an expression of her tears, because beneath the surface there is much sadness as humanity brutally rapes her forests and rivers without a thought for our interconnectedness. The landscape is not as benign an entity as we have romanticized her to be. Her tears are a warning, as she bides her time, waiting for us to return to consciousness and see how our delusional habits of her destruction are only self inflicted wounds. Her beauty is terrifying and omniscient and should she decide to become wrathful of our unconscious behavior we would soon learn where true power lies.

Monday, July 27, 2009

River Solitude

River Solitude

Even from here, even from this
firmament above the stream,
I feel the wingbeat of closing days.
Here above the waters, I hear
my own heart and the river's heart beating,
rising where the shattered waters
close about the struggling breath
like a sudden word, thought of but unspoken,
caught in this throat of salt.

Even from here, I hear the sadness,
far off, the distant voice
filling the searching heart,
lost between silence and stone, between
echo and answer, without fingers or eyes,
searching among the shadows for my ears.
the water shakes loose from memory
and this solitude, washes into stillness
what voices we had, all our silences,
unanswered prayers, whispered
secrets, loves and debts,
treacheries and destructions,
glances, hands and faces
lingering in our sleep:
each moment unresolved,
each moment changing,
like the river's dream.

The wind blows from somewhere else.
Strident and mournful, the brimmed rising hisses,
bursts and falls like a splintered shore
into the wind's retreating silence.

Where do birds go to die?

Poem by Samuel Peralta

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reflections on Guilt & Shame

I sold these two pieces a couple of weeks ago and although they are intensely personal pieces, I realized how ready I was to let them go.
"Reflections on Shame and Guilt" are filled with the raw emotion I experienced when confronting my own shame and guilt as I came face to face with large shadow aspects of myself. A feeling of oppressive self-worthlessness descended upon me & slowly diminished the 'joy hum' inside
until eventually it went out altogether. This was a terrifying moment but one that I survived. This week similar events that triggered this particular shadow confrontation arose again but this time I was prepared. I no longer feel the chains of shame and guilt and my conscience is free of their oppressive bonds. I feel delightfully light and liberated from a false sense of morality which has released an incredible amount of energy to live and create new Life! It was with real joy that I released these two paintings into the world. Time to move on, embracing ALL of life, the negative aspects & the positive aspects, both just being different sides of the same coin.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Launching into Life!

This is my oldest daughter launching into her Life! My heart sings for her when I see these photos. Echoes of my own valleys and mountains resonate within.  There is nothing more to be done but watch her fly and fall and fly again. Someone once said that having a child means to cut out your heart and watch it walk around in the world, a most terrifying and joyful experience! My two daughters have and continue to bring so much love and light into my world. They offer me fresh perspectives and insights on a world with a shifting consciousness. Theirs is a world informed by past generations but already becoming something else. As I contemplate the tender innocence of youth in my daughters I recognize that same innocence alive and well in my own heartbeat. I marvel at how quickly the chapters of experience have created my life story.  Unfurling into a tapestry of textured richness and depth, Life reveals it's patterns of interconnection and relatedness to all beings on this planet. I find myself standing in that same meadow, looking over the valley, only to recognize it for the first time through my daughter's eyes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Excerpts from Gao Xingjian "Return to Painting"

While never straying form the work that is emerging under his hand, the artist also never stops observing himself. To possess this kind of self-consciousness is to no longer be a simple artisan. Consciousness is not like reason; it is far vaster, and to a certain extent, it includes reason. Whereas reason progresses through reflection, relying on language and logic, consciousness shines at the heart of the chaotic self and is immune to the rules of cause and effect, while also restraining and guiding human behavior. Consciousness arises out of a subconscious it does not reject. Instead, it regulates it and sublimates its drives into creative activity. One is hard put to tell it apart from intuition. If we agree that sensations are the endowment of intuition, then consciousness is the mistress of reason.

If painting returns to nature, to the human being, to human sentiments and visions, it will spell its return to what is spiritual, a far richer and more interesting recourse than the one offered by consumer objects and articles.
If nature is subjected to either micro- or macro-scopic observation, not only with the aid of scientific instruments but through the human gaze as well, the result will be landscapes imbued with humanity.

Representation, they say, is passé, a product of outlived methods. As an artistic expression, it is neither progressive nor retrograde. The still life, for one, has never been abandoned. Van gogh, Cézanne, Morandi, Derain, nd Giacometti painted their share of them, always swerving them up through a new gaze or a new technique.
If we oppose representation and presentation, why should the second strike us as the more remarkable of the two? Is it more modern, more contemporary? These are pointless questions and useless oppositions, with which the artist need not bother. As to the methods, there are neither high nor low ones, and they are of no import to aesthetic judgment. Only the originality of the gaze and the artist's talent and skill in conveying his visions are essential to art.

Go back to the beginning, to painting's point of departure, to searching for images. Still, you do not wish to paint nature as it is. You will have to set out in the opposite direction, move from your innermost self toward the sources of light. Allow yourself to fall into your inner visions to see the light springing up from everywhere.
Inner visions have no depth of field; they cannot be taken apart by geometry or arranged according to topology; their movement never stops, and you must work hard if you want to capture them. And while they may not pertain to physical space, they do pertain to time. Whether you concentrate your thoughts or allow them to roam, the pleasure you experience is always infinite.
Dispose of signs, free yourself of symbols, and reach for the image unhampered.
Codify chance and set a course for evolution.
Motion gives painting vitality; it is part of the process always, even if only for a split second.
Transform chaos into a process of mutation; you will endow it with meaning.
Make light the subject of your paintings; make it the only subject.
Transmute informality into formality and supply a method for the first.
Turn form back into an object to be painted, show the contrast between object and light, sustain the light, point up its effects, so there will be light everywhere.
Give even the simplest forms substance and sensation--not an abstract and lifeless point or surface or geometric line, but a stroke f the brush, a mark of the ink, a trace of water, a full taste. Allow it to recover its natural state. Give it life.
The rigid distinction between abstract and figurative art is the product of academic categorizations. When concepts are sent packing, concrete forms appear, sensation-filled forms that emerge naturally, wonderful forms!
Make motion a theme of painting, paint its contrasts and transformations.
Allow music to enter painting, paint its motifs not its phrases; paint the tastes of sound, not its melodies and rhythms.
Paint also the air, the wind, the flame. Paint flight, evaporation, and the thaw.
Bring back the literature that has been banished and paint joy, paint sadness and torment and anxiety and fear.
Paint the silence, the dark inner depths, the visions, the ever-changing visions unfolding in time. Even is stasis, they pertain to the inner worlds.
Do not paint logic and abjure treacherous dialectics. Do not paint language. There is no calligraphy in your paintings. You paint neither words nor signs.

A painting can be endlessly created, and this is why painting fascinates you. You are always discovering things while you paint, never describing them.
The meaning emerges little by little, then leads to another meaning, until all meanings are made to come together in the painting. Through it all, you intuition lets you know what works and what does not. And what works today may not work tomorrow: you look at yuor painting a long time, until it finally finds its stability. That is how you know your work is finished.

Your gaze is always inside the painting, whether you are looking from afar or close-up and in great detail. This may be a commonplace principle, but the question is, Did you really enter the painting? If the answer is yes, then the surface will no longer exist in mere two dimensions but also in time. You are clearly reporting a sensation now, not just a concept or speculation about time. In short, you don't shy away when you paint or look at your paintings but look things square in the eye.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Life and Art Fuse

Haven't posted much lately as my life has been turned inside out and upside down in the past month. I always underestimate how disruptive moving to a new space is for my creative process.
This past month I not only moved from one living space to another but also moved my studio space from the city to the country. I am back in the beloved barn and the barn is much more than a studio, the whole space is a creation that continues to be created in collaboration with other artists. Poets, musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers and people of all kinds, young and old, pass through the barn and are transformed by it's energy. They leave their comments behind in a book we leave out for them to write in. The last entry states, "This place is full of light, air and fire. It is an awakening." I am humbled and awed by the ability of art, when offered in the right context, to inspire a new awareness.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Baba Yaga Came to Visit

While sharing a meal of spice and flavor
with a group of hard working women
the Baba Yaga appeared at the table.
She appeared in calloused hands
and cracked finger nails.
She was there in muscle and
naked skin, just beneath the clothing.
She filled wine goblets and
bit tongues with spicy fire.
She sang out bawdy songs and
told riotously funny stories.

Women who work with their bodies
call forth the form of the holy one
with their sweat and strain
When Baba Yaga appears the women
raise their wine in a toast to the
beauty of her dark nature.
She raises her skirt and reveals
a gapping, dripping wet cave
that leads to an inner knowing.
She opens their legs and tells
them not to fear their own wisdom.

Intuitive patterns & rhythms
drum heartbeats into
feverish dance.
The women peel back layers
of dewy petals and open
to the silver moonlight
cascading down

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Art + Poetry + Music in a barn in a forest

Our Grand Opening for the third season will be on Friday, June 19th starting at 5pm. Live music, wine, sculpture, painting, poetry, singing, dancing and laughing in honor of the Summer Solstice! The Barn is one of my favorite places on the planet earth.
A century old barn that opens onto a red pine forest plantation. An earthy grounded place to bring art back to the people, where it belongs in my opinion. If you are in the area, please come and join us in this celebration of Life!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crying Rocks

When I am able to be still enough or moved enough, something inside me opens up and I can "feel" what needs to be painted from within. As within so without. I believe that psyche and soma are deeply connected. Today I experienced apprehension, disappointment, fear, sadness & loneliness. When given the space to paint in my studio the tears flowed in release of all these emotions, I painted with the tears and listened as the rocks cried their ancient stories. The rocks hold me steady with their patient energy and allow me to access undiscovered places within.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dream of Buddha & Bad Boys

Over a month ago I had a potent dream of which fragments keep fluttering into consciousness even now. The dream begins in some sort of concentration camp. I can't leave, there are lots of rules and not much food. Then it skips to riding my motorcycle towards luminous rock cliffs. I am now walking through the rocks and discover a still, calm lake. The lake is surrounded by sculptural rock formations and I feel very safe here. There are several Buddhist monks sitting or meditating on the rocks. It is sunny, peaceful and very quiet. The silence washes over me. I sit down on some rocks beside the water and notice ancient carvings of mythological figures within the cliffs, the carvings are so old and worn that I have to look very carefully to see them. Three young monks appear out of a hole in the rocks, it is as if they are emerging from an underwater cave into the sunlight. A compelling image that burns itself into me. I admire their courage for having submerged themselves in the underwater cave in order to reemerge into the brilliant sunlight.
Suddenly above me on one of the rock cliffs a group of noisy, obnoxious boys enter
the dream and are completely unconscious of the beauty & silence. They are loud and arrogant and throw things into the calm lake, disrupting its stillness. I feel myself loosing my center and becoming agitated but then I remember that they too belong here in this dream and are very much a part of it. When I accept this, calmness returns through embracing the entire dream and not just the beautiful parts.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Singular Moment

Inner light beckons
a cape of darkness.
Shadows flickering amongst
small dried seed pods.
Swept up in a whirlwind,
confetti drops
onto naked skin.
Tongue tastes salt
as it circles lips
in anticipation.
Storm winds are gathering

but for now the sky is clear
and blue silence
wraps me with
celestial wings.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gaia's Fire

Have been working this piece for months, it is one of those paintings that has worked me! It started out as a Laurentian mountainside of fiery red maples in the fall, the colors of the autumn roar inside me. I can barely drive at this time of year since I am nearly always in a state of awe at the breathtaking beauty of colour, and I find it difficult to keep my eyes on the road.The color started to overtake the painting and though I loved the fire, it was burning too intensely. I kept the painting close to me, simmering, as I worked on other pieces. Then suddenly one day, I flipped it upside down, ah much better. Now I started to cover the fire with quieter greys and the true painting began to emerge. This is where I fall into a state of complete obedience to my muse and just open up to the song that wants to be sung in paint. I can't even begin to describe the state I am in but it is the only place where my thoughts completely empty out and my body fills with music and colors that want to be released onto the canvas. I am painting from a place underneath all my own bullshit and it is a state of pure bliss.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Storm Dream

A couple of weeks ago I dreamt that I was standing face to face with an enormous cyclone. I first noticed it on the distant horizon and was attracted by it's beauty & dark intensity. I was dumbfounded by it's magnitude & the speed of it's approach. The sky darkened, light was obliterated, the wind roared and I was totally mesmerized by the energy of the power and beauty coming straight at me. I opened my arms and surrendered completely as I knew there was no escape. I looked right at it and felt curiousity more than anything. I wondered what it would feel like when it hit me, would it hurt? would I die instantly? would I be ripped apart? I knew this was the end and watched it coming.

Then suddenly, the dream froze.

Everything froze, the whole scene in front of me was suspended, only I could move in the dream. I was astounded, as I thought nothing could stop such a power but there it
was, frozen, just inches away from me.

I woke up in wonder.

"There is only one thing that seems to work; and that is to turn
directly toward the approaching darkness without prejudice and
totally naively, and to try to find out what its secret aim is
and what it wants from you."


Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Rock Spirit Emerging

Painting never ceases to amaze and fascinate me! Today I went in to the studio and didn't have the heart to take all the work down so puttered around for a while, a few people dropped by, and then suddenly I knew I had to paint from inside the rock again. Really important to be available for these bursts of knowing. Here are the results, I am enjoying this process immensely. The primal body connection I feel for the paint and collage is solid and grounding. I seem to know intuitively what colours and shapes will say what needs to be said. The faces that emerge are surprising to me at the same time as they are familiar.

Introvert / Extrovert

Here is the small watercolor that I did this fall and has been haunting me ever since. I have a sense of what is being communicated but can only guess how to articulate it:
A large vacuous & distracting figure protects or shields the shy but definitely more interesting inner figure. Both figures feel very intimate to me and my art process.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today's Open Studio

Here are some views of the studio today, hard to take interior photos since it is a rather asymmetrical space with huge windows. Lots of friends, support and love, not much in sales. I managed to stay centered for most of the day and survived the continuous exchange and dialogue. There is a part of me that just wanted to close the doors and go back to painting. It is strange to be part introvert/part extrovert. Never sure which part will reveal itself or when. Though I have managed to create a convincing extroverted persona I believe that I have a much more interesting introvert whom is trying to be born. She thrives when I am painting alone in my studio. I have done a small watercolour of these two inner figures and will try and photograph it so I can post it.

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