Archives for posts with tag: Collage

I have always had a tendency towards pareidolia, which is when you see faces in inanimate things. One of my favorite things to do when I am feeling stuck creatively is to drop ink or watercolor on wet paper and find images within. Another creative game I play is when I am a passenger in a moving car, I allow my pen to sit loosely in my opposite hand and see how the pen interprets the drive into squiggly lines in my sketchbook. I then later look at it and find some face or figure hidden within the inked brambles of the lines.

I have done a few quilts in the past and have amassed several boxes of beautiful fabric. Lately, I have found myself craving to work with that fabric and thanks to a Facebook group called “Stitch Meditations”, I have finally begun. It feels like a natural extension of my mixed media work. I’ve been working small for the moment; 4”x4” squares torn from an old fabric shower curtain. This shower curtain was white with large light blue mandalas on it.

I then use my pareidolia to search the section of the mandala until I see something emerge. I do a quick sketch on the square and start stitching adding embroidery and fabric scraps as I would with a paper collage.

Janice Fried ©2019


Right now, I am enjoying the process for what it is rather than what they might eventually become.

Right now, they are bringing me joy and isn’t that what’s important?

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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

Generally, summer is not my most productive time.

I have lots of ideas and projects but once that beautiful weather takes hold, I seem to lose interest in anything that keeps me indoors.

But, this past spring, I took part in an local event called “Sheep on Show”. Artists and townsfolk were invited to paint a plywood cutout of sheep that would be placed around town.

No one knew exactly what to make of this at first but once the sheep started popping up on people’s lawns the interest grew.

My sheep was titled: Sheep Apnea

Sheep Apnea

I was also part of a group of artists who painted a life sized fiberglass Ox for the town of Hopewell, NJ. Included in the group were my mother and my niece. Each artist did an interpretation of the ox through history. After my Asian themed painted violin, I choose to do an Asian Ox. It was challenging to figure out how to create and apply the artwork to the large ox. Some of the artists chose to paint directly onto it but I chose to create mine on handmade paper and then print it out on fabric. The fabric would be able to mold easier to the body of the ox. It worked although the colors weren’t quite as bright once transferred to fabric.

Asian Ox 1

So far there haven’t been any more barnyard projects but I have always liked chickens…


All images ©Janice Fried


Ever since I was a child I loved anything that belonged to another time other than the one I lived in.

I loved old movies from the silent era to Film Noir.  I loved big band music and scratchy recordings meant to be played on a Victrola.  I loved padded shoulder jackets from the 1940’s, spats, and fedoras.  My parents used to call me a “throwback”.   These days, I’m just Old School.

As an artist, my love of old things extended to using old photographs as inspiration. Images of wasp-waisted women in big ornate hats, mustached men in vests with pocket watch chains, peddlers and immigrants, daguerreotypes in gold frames or tiny tintypes with a blush of hand coloring.  Formal portraits or early snapshots of day to day life fascinated me.  I’d try to imagine their lives.

I would stare at these photographs endlessly as if by staring at them I could somehow transport myself back in time to New York City circa 1908 even for just a few moments. Of course, the world would only be sepia colored.

Eventually, I began using these photographs to draw from by putting my own twist to the images.

Needless to say, the drawings were and still are done on paper using pencils, pen and ink and paint.

As much as I enjoy poking around online, I struggle with the idea of actually creating artwork using the computer.

I recently read that Thomas Nast, the great political illustrator from the late 19th century couldn’t keep up with the latest technology of his time, which was photo engraving.  He was an old school wood engraver. It somehow made me feel better knowing that even then it was difficult for an illustrator to change with the times but there was a lesson in there too.

There is always a choice.  You can stubbornly choose to live in the past or you can find a way to live and make a living in the present.  Of course it’s just not that black and white.

I am trying but somehow I keep hoping hats will make a comeback.

Bee in her Bonnet

The last couple of months of 2012 were full of drama.

Hurricane Sandy stormed in and swept away some people’s lives and gave purpose to others.  We lost power and heat for a week and considered ourselves extremely lucky losing not much more than the food in our refrigerator.


Shortly after the hurricane, there was a huge lottery of almost $300 million dollars.  The odds were 1 in 175,223,510.00 to win the jackpot.

I ask myself what would I do with that kind of money?  What dreams could I make come true?

My dream was always to be a successful working illustrator. Something money couldn’t buy. A successful career is a blending of so many factors: timing, persistence, talent and yes, luck.  $300 million in the bank wouldn’t hurt either….

Despite the odds, I took a chance on doing the thing I most wanted to do with my life and I even won a few golden tickets over the years but the jackpot would have been a lifetime’s worth of illustration jobs.

A number of years ago I was chosen to do a deck of affirmation cards for Hay House publishers. They found my work in the Alternative Pick Directory.  For me it was like winning the lottery.

Over the next few years, I did a total of three decks of cards for them; 175 pieces of artwork that brought new life to my illustration portfolio.

So here’s to 2013.  Will it be win, lose or draw?

I choose Draw.

From "Healing Cards" by Carolyn Myss and Peter Occhiogrosso Hay House Publishers

From “Healing Cards” by Carolyn Myss and Peter Occhiogrosso Hay House Publishers

Here is a new piece fresh off the drawing board.  I have always loved the combination of black, white and red.

I have several hatboxes in my closet with letters tied in bunches with ribbons.  Yes, I know I am old fashioned. I have always loved writing letters.   Although more than that, I love to receive them.  I have love letters, letters from friends in summer camps, precious letters from my grandfather with his magnificent artistic handwriting and from my grandmother who rarely wrote letters but did when I was away at college.  I have letters from friends who lived only a few miles away and letters from my brother who lives thousands of miles away.  I save them all.

I’ve heard talk about email reviving the art of writing letters but the ding of an incoming email or text message is just not the same thing as finding a lovely colorful jewel in the mailbox that was hand delivered and mixed in with boring, white enveloped bills.  It’s magical.

Sometimes you’d wait for days or weeks for a letter.  The waiting made the arrival even more exciting when it finally showed up.

Whenever my family went on a camping trip, which we did each summer, invariably I’d become friends with someone in a neighboring campsite who might for a time become my pen pal.

Occasionally I’d be lucky and one would hang on for a number of years. Pam was one of those.   She and I met on a camping trip to Cape Ann, Massachusetts when I was about 9 years old.  We wrote voraciously for many years.

Once in awhile we even exchanged a phone call.  Pam enjoyed hearing my New York accent, which of course I wasn’t aware of having.  Around the time I went to college she and I stopped writing.  She and I recently reconnected via email but somehow it just isn’t the same.

My other long time pen pal is Ine whose name and address I got via Seventeen Magazine.  Ine lives in Holland and we’ve been writing to each other for decades.  Our pen and paper friendship does dip into email once in awhile when one of us gets concerned that we haven’t heard from the other for a while.

Ine and I have lived our lives through our letters, from teenage angst to college and careers, from the death of her parents to the adoption of my son.  It’s all there on paper and written in ink, stamped and mailed.

She keeps my life and I keep hers, never to be deleted, bundled in a hatbox and tied with a ribbon.

Mixed Media © Janice Fried 2009

Since it began five years ago I’ve participated in a local arts festival called “JuneBug”.  Every Friday night in June, artists set up tables or place their art in store windows or both throughout the town of Metuchen, NJ.

We exhibit our work, sell handmade products and chat with neighbors some of who don’t even know about our secret lives as artists.

There are music events, dance performances and other happenings going on.

Local artists will be set up on the streets of Metuchen for the next four consecutive Fridays; June 8th – June 29th from 6-9:30pm.

I’ll be there with my prints and greeting cards in front of the Metuchen Savings Bank offices on Main St.

Stop by and say hi.

Hope it doesn’t rain!

Image for 2011 Junebug

I’ve done many illustrations of trees for wedding invitations or as wedding gifts.  I’ve drawn them as places of safety and as places to hide.

Trees are so full of symbolism that they are almost cliché, and yet they are a subject I go back to over and over again.  I might change the shape of the leaves into stars for one drawing or circles for another.  I tend to place my trees in a composition that would have surely been frowned upon in art school: A solitary tree with a straight trunk and symmetrically fanned branches positioned centrally on the paper; no interesting angles or perspective.

Yet there is something about that composition that appeals to me.  It’s direct and it’s strong.

Here are a few samples of my trees:

The Caring Tree   (mixed media)

Tree for Barry  (mixed media)

Tree of Life  (mixed media)

Student (mixed media  2003)

This year, Arbor Day falls on what would have been my sister in law’s 58th birthday.

Sharon was a woman with branches full of fruit and a trunk with a heart carved into it.   I still see a long shadow where she once stood.