My mom sees beauty in rust. She has collected rusted bottle caps in jars and bigger pieces of lacy rust in her studio for use in her collages. Her collages always inspired and influenced me.

When I was younger, she had my brother and I well trained to keep an eye out for some ancient rust for her collection; her version of Wabi Sabi, the Japanese word that reminds us to embrace the passing of time and recognize the beauty in the cycle of life. I still look to the ground when I am taking a walk. My version of a treasure hunt. I have my own rust collection now.

A once shiny metal object which is lovely in it’s own right turns brown and orange and mottled by time and weather, something someone might kick aside as garbage or ignore completely.


Alchemy ©Janice Fried 2018

And so for Mother’s Day, I honor my mother for her eye for the visually imperfect, the discarded and the artistic jewel on the side of the road.  She is an artist and an alchemist turning rust into gold and revealing how beautiful aging can be.




Tikkun Olam means to repair the world and 2017 felt like we were coming apart at the seams.

As trying as this year has been both personally and globally I have to believe there is still a chance for a more lasting repair…. one stitch at a time.

Peace and strength and love, good health and well being to all of you for the new year.

Janice Fried ©2017

“Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?”

Edgar A. Poe  1849



Today marks the 106th anniversary of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

146 people lost their lives that day…most of them young, hardworking, Jewish and Italian immigrant women.

Many of them were named “Rose”.

This image was created in their memory.

In Memory of the Roses

©Janice Fried 2017  In Memory of The Roses



More and more I am seeing how often fear motivates our actions.Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of strangers, fear of success, fear of not fitting in, fear of finding out who we really are.

Fear can stop us in our tracks and lead us to inertia.  It can also cause us to make all kinds of excuses as well as making certain decisions based around those fears.

This election brought about a whole new range of fears for me.

I began writing this post about letting go of fear weeks before the events of November 8th with the original thought of confronting my fear of getting back into illustration as a career. That particular fear seems somewhat insignificant now and yet there have been many calls for artists to lift their pencils and brushes and writers and poets to lift their pens and musicians to lift their voices and instruments in response to the fear this election has caused.

My artwork has never been political or particularly angry or dark but these feel like angry and dark times and I do feel afraid. It’s a global fear. Fear for and of my fellow humans, fear for the earth we live on, fear of things we might lose, fear for those who are so vulnerable.

I haven’t yet found the visual language to express those fears so at the moment I am still unable to respond creatively.

This image was done for one of the card decks that I illustrated for Hay House Publishers some time ago called “Wisdom for Healing”. The title of this image is “Let Go of Fear”.

T95 IM AW 47

©Janice Fried 

One of the local galleries where I occasionally show my work is called Nails in the Wall. It is in a lovely church and the themes for the shows are spiritually focused. The current show that I’m in is called “Saints Among Us.” For this show I was asked to speak about my piece and so I thought I’d reprint some of my talk here:

I was intrigued by the idea of visually representing “Saints Among Us” so I googled the phrase to see what came up. I discovered the term “Tzadik Nistar” which was a concept in Judaism, which I wasn’t familiar with.

The Hebrew word, Tzadik/tzadekket means a righteous person (For a male it is a tzadik for a female, tzadekket.) Nistar means “hidden”. It is also where the word “Tzedakah” comes from. “Tzedakah” means charity.

According to what I’ve read the concept of “Tzadik Nistar” began with the Babylonian Talmud (Jewish law), which says that there are no less than 36 people who walk among us anonymously at any given time on earth helping to keep the world safe from destruction by their good deeds.  Although these are humble people who are not aware of their special status, one of these 36 is thought to be “The Messiah”.

There are many interpretations as to why the number 36 is significant. Some think there is an astrological basis for 36 but Jewish mysticism or Kabbalah gives significance to letters by assigning them a number. The number 36 is twice 18 and 18 is the number that represents the letter “chai”. The word “Chai” translates to “life” but there are many other interpretations as to where the number 36 came from regarding these hidden saints.

I chose to do my image in a somewhat different style for this show. It is done primarily in graphite, which I rubbed into the paper. I then pulled out highlights using an eraser, which I thought gave an feeling of other unknown saints hidden among us. I added small collage elements and limited the color to touches of yellow and blue.





To be a children’s book illustrator was my original dream.  It was the Crayola® of the profession as far as I was concerned.

When it came time for me to gather up my portfolio after art school and begin the journey on my yellow brick road to children’s book stardom, I came up against the comment that my work was “ too sophisticated for children’s books”. This comment occurred more than once and I was always somewhat baffled by it. Especially because everyone else who looked at my work said, “You’d be great for children’s books!”.

As my career progressed I did eventually get some work in the children’s book market but usually in the form of textbooks or music books for kids. Not until many years later was I able to break into the hallowed world of picture books.

I’ve tried over the years to figure out what is was about my style that held publishers back from taking more of a chance on me; did my work look too old fashioned? Did I not show that I could be consistent with a character? I know my work isn’t graphic or quirky. It doesn’t have a childlike simplicity or cinematic realism. It doesn’t have that special something that wins artists Caldecott awards or entrance into the Society of Illustrators Children’s Shows.

Maybe I’ll have to pull out my Purple Crayon and start dreaming again… that is if the Wild Things don’t get me first.


©Janice Fried 2012



I don’t do a lot of landscapes but once in awhile cool greens and blue skies without a person in sight feel very appealing. I am currently in a local show of artwork inspired by nature called “Outside In.”

I had some older pieces that I could have submitted for this show but I wanted to do something new.

So here is “Bluebird” along with a few other nature inspired images.

Happy Summer!

Bluebird lr

“Bluebird” ©Janice Fried 2016


“The Spirit in Everything” ©Janice Fried 2003

T389 IM AW 48

“Waves” ©Janice Fried 2003

This has been the strangest winter I can ever remember. The cherry blossoms were blooming in December and in January we had 30” of snow. The natural world seemed turned upside down so I drew this image I call Thallo in Winter.

Thallo is the Greek goddess of Spring who should be arriving officially on March 2oth carrying buds and blossoms.

Thallo in winter lr

©Janice Fried 2016

Tomorrow another illustration hero of mine will turn 95 or maybe 94, his daughter, my friend Kim told me they aren’t exactly sure of his birth year but it doesn’t really matter.

His name is Leonard Kessler and in my pantheon of children’s book illustrators he is there among the best. He has illustrated hundreds of children’s books with his lovely, warm style. One of his best known being “Mr.Pine’s Purple House” published in 1965.  Once in a while, he would insert names of friends or family members into his illustrations like he did with me in his book, “On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!” I was a “great sprinter”.

©Leonard Kessler 1972

©Leonard Kessler 1972

©Leonard Kessler 1972

I met him when I was about 14 and when he found out I loved to draw and hoped to be an illustrator he gave me my very first rapidograph pen.

Sometimes when I’d come to visit Kim, he’d leave us pads of paper and colored pens as little gifts.

He was then and still is a joyful person who continues to create and bring smiles at 94 or 95.

Leonard and I shared the love of children’s book illustration but we also shared late October birthdays. Ours were only a couple of days apart. “You and me and Picasso” he used to remind me.

Leonard was a classmate of Andy Warhol’s at Carnegie Mellon University and I often wondered what kind of conversations they must have had back in college.

Here’s to you, Leonard the K…Happy 94th or 95th birthday!

Purple Knishes LK dedication

@Janice Fried 1989

@Janice Fried 1989
“Joy of Children’s Music” Music Sales Corp.