Archives for posts with tag: Mixed Media

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

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.