Archives for posts with tag: Mixed Media

 

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.

Dream

©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

T224 IMUS AW 3R

“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

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…

Chicken

All images ©Janice Fried

 

This has been one of those winters; one of those snow upon snow upon ice upon snow winters.  The kind of winter where my son’s school already called more snow days than they build into the school schedule so they start taking away holidays like President’s Day.  The kind of winter where you don’t want to venture outside unless you have to.

I am not a winter hater and I can enjoy a good snowstorm from the inside looking out but this winter has been challenging to say the least.

I have been trying to use my indoor time productively.

Here are two recent images from the Winter of 2014:

My Snowy Valentine ©Janice Fried 2014

My Snowy Valentine ©Janice Fried 2014

The Sleep on Winter ©Janice Fried 2014

The Sleep of Winter ©Janice Fried 2014

When I was in the third grade we were given the opportunity to play an instrument.

Since my beloved grandfather played the violin I decided on that.

My grandfather Frank was self-taught in everything he did.  Art and music were his passions and those passions were passed along to his children and grandchildren.

He made his living as a painter/decorator painting murals, doing wood graining or marbleizing on walls in office buildings or in private homes. He supported four children on painting.  He painted for a living and he painted because he loved it.  He’d paint old wine bottles or furniture he’d find on the street and make them into beautiful art objects.

He painted constantly and when he wasn’t painting, he was playing his violin.

He loved to tell stories about how when he first came to this country he used to wait by the stage door at Carnegie Hall for Jascha Heifetz and offer to carry his violin for him.  My grandfather was also a wonderful storyteller.

Grandpa w Violin

I continued to play the violin through high school in various orchestras and for school plays. It was only when I decided to make art my focus did I give it up.

Last spring I learned that the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra did a fundraiser each concert season where they asked artists to paint an actual violin that would be auctioned off to support various education programs that the orchestra sponsored.

I applied and was accepted as one of the artists for the 2013-2014 season.

In late July I received an unvarnished violin .  We were told we could pick a composer or a program or a particular piece of music to illustrate on the violin.  I had a few months to complete it.

I chose to interpret the orchestra’s winter program of Gustav Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” (Song of the Earth) and a piece by a contemporary Chinese composer, Tan Dun whose “Earth Sonata”  would be premiered. Both of these pieces were based on poetry by the 8th c. Chinese poet Li Bai.

I wanted to work in my usual style of watercolor, colored pencil and collage but I wasn’t sure how any of it would translate on wood.  I used a small paddle from a paddleball toy as a test board.

I decided to paint the front of the violin in a Chinese style and the back and sides in a Vienna 1900 style a la Gustav Klimt.

I created the tuning pegs out of bamboo to imitate a Chinese stringed instrument.

I loved working on this project and working on wood was a revelation for me.

My grandfather died twenty years ago and I miss him.  He used to love to laugh at his own jokes and say “That was a good one!”

But I’m not joking when I say I loved painting this violin.

That was a good one.

Violin Front by Fred Stucker Photog.Violin back by Fred Stucker Photog.

Photos by Fred Stucker © 2013

Artwork © Janice Fried 2013

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.

Luck.

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