Holly Friesen was born in Saskatchewan, studied Visual Arts at John Abbott College in Montreal and painting at York University in Toronto. Throughout many years of travel she discovered the portability of watercolours and honed her skills by painting on location. Settling in Mont-Tremblant, QC, Holly opened Artbeat Studio where she painted & taught for 20 years. While living & working in the Laurentians she painted from close observation of nature. She rediscovered the luscious physicality of oils and the textural versatility of acrylics. The scale of her paintings continually grew to accommodate the large movement she felt within herself and the earth around her. In 2008 she moved to Montreal bringing her internal images of the landscape with her. Her newest pieces are largely informed by these internal metaphors and dream images she encounters when painting from inside the landscape.
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 carving directly into the panel board 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.