Tag Archives: holly friesen

Mourning Light

by Holly Friesen

An exhibition of recent paintings by Holly Friesen
Les Mots Tremblant, Friday, Dec 16, 5 to 7 pm

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.

I recently attended a month long artist residency program at the Vermont Studio Centre in Johnson, Vermont. This was a transformative experience. I was able to paint day and night in a gorgeous studio without interruptions or distractions. Meals were provided and the interaction with the 50 other attending writers and visual artists was inspiring and stimulating. The first thing I painted was “Good-Bye Kiss”. The reference photo I painted from was taken by a close photographer friend of mine who passed away three months after Walt. This painting allowed me to process a lot of sadness for the loss of both these dear souls. Once this painting was complete I felt released and lighter as though the studio had been blessed with a newfound radiance that was filled with love and gratitude.


holly friesen-good-bye kiss


To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver

I unrolled some large swaths of canvas from a roll that had belonged to Walt, stapled them to the wall and started to paint light filled landscapes of colour and joy. These paintings came bursting forth with a gratitude for life so large it was almost hard to contain it.


Unbound Joy / 84" X 70"

Unbound Joy / 84″ X 70″

Mysteries Too Marvellous to be Understood / 72" X 60"

Mysteries Too Marvellous to be Understood / 72″ X 60″


I intend to exhibit these pieces un-stretched and unframed, just as they were in the studio. I love the raw edges that seem to extend the painting into the room and allow their energy to spill out into the space around them. I want the viewer to experience the painting  as an expansive invitation to enter the painting with their own heart.




Next I felt as though I was between stories, a liminal space. A story of presence and absence co-existing in one space. A tension filled existence of opposites; movement and stillness, light and dark, colour and neutrality. A space full of potential yet oddly empty. It was at this time I came across a photograph by friend and colleague Melissa Johnston I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I rarely paint from another person’s imagery as I find “image gathering” to be very personal but this one just wouldn’t stop
calling out to me. I contacted Melissa and she very generously gave me permission to use her sublime photo as reference for a painting. “Liminal Space” is the resulting painting and I am grateful for Melissa’s vision that resonated with my own at that moment in time and space.


Liminal Space / 36" X 48"

Liminal Space / 36″ X 48″


Then came a more subdued palette as I started on a new series of paintings. These works were more modest in size and inspired by a series of photos and memories from a 5 a.m. September morning paddle on Pink Pond in the Adirondacks. As my photographer friend and I waited for the fog to lift we were rewarded with some of the most sublime glimpses  of landscape revealed at whim from behind a shifting veil of mist. This ambiguous vision of the the horizon appearing and disappearing was poetic and dreamlike.


Infinite Possibilities / 48" X 36"

Infinite Possibilities / 48″ X 36″

Pink Pond #1 / 12" X 12"

Pink Pond #1 / 12″ X 12″

Morning Offering / 12" X 12"

Morning Offering / 12″ X 12″

Pink Pond #4 / 12" X 12"

Pink Pond #4 / 12″ X 12″


The following paintings are several that I have selected from this past year of searching, exploring and reaffirming the interconnectedness of our inner and outer landscapes. The present moment seems to intersect with the past and the future and linear time dissolves into a web of moments.


The Present Moment Becomes Long Ago / 24" X 48"

The Present Moment Becomes Long Ago / 24″ X 48″

Dark Water Cove / 24" X 48"

Dark Water Cove / 24″ X 48″

Field Flow

Field Flow


My painting practice continues as a form of deep prayer which reconnects me to that which is vital in this life and beyond. Painting teaches me what I need to learn. Like breath, painting has become intuitive and essential to my own survival. I am humbled and awed by this invitation to participate in the Great Mystery through moments of numinous beauty that I am gifted with on a daily basis.


Un Peu Perdu dans les Nuages / 16" X 20"

Un Peu Perdu dans les Nuages / 16″ X 20″

When Warmth Fell from the Sky / 24" X 30"

When Warmth Fell from the Sky / 24″ X 30″

Landscape in Motion / 36" X 48"

Landscape in Motion / 36″ X 48″

Yellow Pool of Light / 36" X 48"

Yellow Pool of Light / 36″ X 48″



holly-friesen-bio-picArtist: Holly Friesen



Holly Friesen was born in Saskatchewan, studied Visual Arts at John Abbott College in Montreal and painting at York University in Toronto. After many years of travel and study she settled in Mont-Tremblant, QC and opened ArtBeat Studio where she painted and taught for 15 years. Four summer seasons saw Holly as artistic director and curator of The Art Barn in Mont-Tremblant. In 2010 she was curator and project manager of Ateliers du Village, an artist run gallery in Mont-Tremblant village.  From 2012-13 she worked as the Montreal curator for an online art auction ArtBomb. The artist’s studio is currently based out of Montreal QC where she also works as artistic director and curator of E.K. Voland Art Gallery. Her paintings are collected internationally and part of both corporate and private collections. Holly’s passion is painting vibrant landscapes from the inside out while collaborating with other artists to make art more visible in our everyday world.

Artist Statement:  My work revolves around earth-honoring images that reflect and instill connection to local bio-regions. These images internalize a reverence for the earth and shift the intent from harming the world to living in a mutually life enhancing manner. I learn what I need to know by painting. The more I paint the less separation there is between inner and outer worlds. For me, painting is like deep prayer awakening an inner wilderness that reflects the earth’s landscape; the image is in you and you are in the image. Painting is my breath, beauty my compass and the earth is my body.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyFriesenArtist/?pnref=lhc

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hollyfriesenart/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Holly59

Online Portfolio: https://www.artworkarchive.com/artwork/holly-friesen


Creative Remix – Word in Sound and Image

Marc Neys-Ladder 3

One of the hopes of Creative Thresholds is that different art forms and genres meet and that the convergence inspires creatives of all types, resulting in dialogue and possibly collaboration. In this post, a poem, which had been inspired by a painting, in turn inspires a film. The process and the individual works are…magical.

Watch the film, “Ladder Our Boat,” and read about the process from both the poet, Maureen Doallas, and the filmmaker, Swoon (AKA Marc Neys).

The video is best seen on full screen with good volume.


Melissa, curator and editor

Creative Remix – Word in Sound and Image

by Maureen E. Doallas and Swoon (AKA Marc Neys)



The Poem:

A Ladder Our Boat

after Holly Friesen’s Warrior Canoe

When we make a tree a ladder, we climb
out of the flaming fire, through our fear.
We are each from earth’s guts spilled,
Persephone rising, wild mint lacing
loose braids, sheaves of grain in hand,
spring’s re-welcoming cheered.

When we make the ladder our boat, we sail on
a kiss of wind above the Hades of our making,
spirits water-rocked in Zeus’s arms, seeds
of the pomegranate bursting, our offspring

We strike our fevered blessings on the wood,
water-tight, wave at the moon we circle twice:
the light, our safe harbor, shore.

© Maureen E. Doallas
Printed with Permission of Author

Marc Neys-Ladder 1

The Process:

Maureen: Nic Sebastian, an excellent poet herself, is the founder of The Poetry Storehouse, which is dedicated to promoting “new forms and delivery methods for page-poetry”; the site has become a terrific repository of poems in text, audio, and video. I submitted five poems, which Nic accepted, with the understanding that any and all would be made freely available for creative remixing. Among the selections is my poem “A Ladder, Our Boat”. The poem first appeared in the Image-ine series at TweetSpeak Poetry; Image-ine, to which I’ve contributed numerous ekphrastic poems (including a series inspired by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave‘s paintings), is a place for discovering and learning about and sharing poetry that is inspired by paintings or other media. “A Ladder, Our Boat” was inspired by Holly Friesen‘s exquisite painting “Warrior Canoe”; I shared the poem with Holly after I wrote it, and she was kind enough to allow us to use an image of the painting at Image-ine.

Marc Neys-Ladder 2Marc Neys aka Swoon, who is a tremendous talent, first sent me a message via Facebook to listen to a soundtrack he’d composed for my poem “A Ladder, Our Boat”. I expressed my delight, and was thrilled Marc was setting my poem. Marc continued developing his concept for the poem, incorporating images from footage he collected.  Unlike some of Marc’s other remixes, this one has no narration. Marc’s completed videopoem is “Ladder Our Boat”. Marc is entirely responsible for concept, camera, editing, and music. I am very pleased with the result.

Ladder 4Swoon (Marc): For my latest video for a poem taken from The Poetry Storehouse I went back to my early days. That is to say, there was a need to create a videopoem without a voice again (and I hadn’t done that in a long while).

I started with collecting a series of images that could either tell a new story or create a different path to go on when combined with a certain line from the poem. Once I had collected the footage and paired them with certain lines, I needed a timeframe. So I created a soundtrack with a lot of background noises (breathing, scratching, squeaking,…).

With these sounds I started editing the chosen footage. I combined the lines of the poem with the images. Giving the words space and time to take root in or react to the images. I love this way of working and I wonder why I don’t use that technique more often… Yes these works need to be played on a larger screen for full effect!

Maureen E. Doallas

Maureen E. Doallas is the author of Neruda’s Memoirs: Poems (T.S. Poetry Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in the anthologies Open to Interpretation: Water’s EdgeOpen to Interpretation: Love & Lust, and Oil and Water…And Other Things That Don’t Mix; and in Felder Rushing’s book Bottle trees. Her poems also have appeared in Every Day PoemsThe Woven Tale Press MagazineThe Found Poetry Review (special David Foster Wallace edition), The Victorian Violet Press & Journal, The Poetry Storehouse, VerseWrights, Escape Into Life, Poets for Living Waters, Red Lion Square, The Beautiful Due, the sad red earth, The Poetry Tree, and Englewood Review of Books. Her interviews and feature articles have appeared at TweetSpeak Poetry and The High Calling. Maureen writes daily at her blog Writing Without Paper, is an Artist Watch editor for the online arts magazine Escape Into Life, and a contributing writer to Manhattan Arts and TweetSpeak Poetry. An art collector, she owns a small art-licensing company, Transformational Threads.

Social Media: I’m on SheWrites, FaceBook, Twitter, Goodreads, SoundCloud, and LinkedIn.


Transformational Threads:

Another collaboration of mine: http://juancarloshernandezphotographe.blogspot.com/2011/07/night-stalkingcollaboration-with-poet.html

Marc NeysSwoon (AKA Marc Neys) (°1968, Essen, Belgium) is an artist who works in a variety of media; he’s a video-artist / soundscape-constructor. 

“His work is provocative, beautiful and disturbing. Using poems as guidelines, Swoon (Marc Neys) creates video and soundscapes that is instantly recognizable for its dreamlike quality as well as the skill with which the artist extracts new meaning from the poems he illuminates.” (Erica Goss)

Swoon’s work has been featured at film and video-art festivals all over the world.

In 2014 Swoon released his first album of soundscapes ‘Words/No Words’ on Already Dead Tapes. He curates, gives workshops and writes a monthly column for Awkword Paper Cut.




Why I Paint

by Holly Friesen

I paint because I have to.  It is like the air I breathe, completely necessary to my brief existence here on earth.  I paint to understand.  Often my mind is far behind understanding what is appearing on the canvas.  There is a body of wisdom that takes over when I hold a brush in my hand.  When I trust this inner wisdom, sometimes I am able to let go and dance with the paint.  I paint to survive.  My deeply felt connection with the earth is my inspiration and the more I listen to the stories within the rocks, trees, rivers, and sky, the more I need to paint.  I paint because I have to.

I like to work as large scale as possible because this allows greater movement and physicality with the painting. I often collage spiral patterned Washi (handmade Japanese paper)  into my work.  For me this adds a random and surprising element that says, “look deeper, there is more going on here than meets the eye.”  The spiral is a fascinating, ancient image and a primal symbol in the history of humankind.

My favorite way to paint is to choose from a rather eclectic music mix and allow the sounds to draw me out of my head and into my body.  As my mind stops chattering, colors and shapes become a visceral language and I respond intuitively following my own breath, heartbeat, and movement from within.


Earth Bowl - Overflow / diptych 100" x 60" / acrylic on canvas

Earth Bowl – Overflow / diptych 100″ x 60″ / acrylic on canvas

Crying Rocks / 40" x 60" / acrylic on canvas

Crying Rocks / 40″ x 60″ / acrylic on canvas

Rocks Attending the River / 18" x 22" / acrylic on panel board

Rocks Attending the River / 18″ x 22″ / acrylic on panel board

Nestled / 30" x 24" / acrylic on panel board

Nestled / 30″ x 24″ / acrylic on panel board

Inward Reflection / 48" x 72" / acrylic on canvas

Inward Reflection / 48″ x 72″ / acrylic on canvas

Crying Lake / 16"' x 20" / acrylic on panel board

Crying Lake / 16″‘ x 20″ / acrylic on panel board

Shimmer / 54" x 72" / acrylic on canvas

Shimmer / 54″ x 72″ / acrylic on canvas

Weaving Roots of Time / triptych 48" x 72" / acrylic on canvas

Weaving Roots of Time / triptych 48″ x 72″ / acrylic on canvas

Forest Qualia / diptcyh 72" x 48" / acrylic on canvas

Forest Qualia / diptcyh 72″ x 48″ / acrylic on canvas

Sky Becoming Road / 36" x 48" / oil on canvas

Sky Becoming Road / 36″ x 48″ / oil on canvas

Spirit Island / acrylic on canvas / 24" x 30"

Spirit Island / acrylic on canvas / 24″ x 30″

Rocks in Moonlight / 18" x 22" / acrylic on panel board

Rocks in Moonlight / 18″ x 22″ / acrylic on panel board

Lover's Limbs / 36" x 48" / acrylic on canvas

Lover’s Limbs / 36″ x 48″ / acrylic on canvas

Ever Evolving Earth / 54" x 72" / acrylic on panel board

Ever Evolving Earth / 54″ x 72″ / acrylic on panel board

Telluric Rhythm / 36" x 48" / acrylic on canvas

Telluric Rhythm / 36″ x 48″ / acrylic on canvas

Natura Imaginalis / 30" x 24" / acrylic on panel board

Natura Imaginalis / 30″ x 24″ / acrylic on panel board

Blood of the River God / 36" x 48" / acrylic on panel board

Blood of the River God / 36″ x 48″ / acrylic on panel board


Holly FriesenHolly Friesen

Artist Statement:

My work revolves around earth-honoring images that reflect and instill connection to local bio-regions. These images internalize a reverence for the earth and shift the intent from harming the world to living in a mutually life-enhancing manner.

After 30 years of painting from close observation of the forests, rocks and rivers, I feel I am no longer observing the natural world around me but rather, in a reversal of roles, the natural world seems to be observing me. Direct and spontaneous brushstrokes become intuitive movements that follow breath and echo emotional responses to this living, breathing vitality. Through a dynamic energetic exchange I feel as though I am being held within an intelligent, sentient field that expresses itself through colors, shapes and movement. I am both humbled and awed by this process.

I particularly enjoy the physicality of painting, the intuitive mark making, the hands-on application of collage and sometimes the direct carving into the panel board. They bring me even closer to the work. I enter an unconscious wilderness through my hands and body; a primal, non-verbal process that is rich with metaphor & images. Often as I work vivid dream images arise and replace my rational, thinking brain with sensations and feelings that are experienced physically in my body.

I learn what I need to know by painting. The more I paint the less separation there is between inner and outer ecologies which results in a linking of perceptions with the natural world where attempts to define or control are useless. For me, painting is like deep prayer awakening a reverence for the earth’s inner landscape; the image is in you and you are in the image. Painting is my breath, beauty my compass, and the earth my body.

Check out Holly’s website and online portfolio.

Twitter: @holly59

Email: hollyfriesen@gmail.com

%d bloggers like this: