Lesley Frenz is an emerging artist working in acrylics and watercolors. Born in 1972 and raised in coastal North Florida, she received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Florida where she studied Art History and Painting. An avid hiker and backpacker, Frenz finds inspiration in wild places and her current practice is centered around the exploration of the natural world and landscape through its expression in color. Soft and atmospheric, her paintings evoke the vast mystery held in places few truly explore. She is currently based in Spokane, Washington and soaking up all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
How did you get started as an artist?
I was always a creative kid and both my grandmothers were hobby oil painters, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really discovered my love for painting. From the first class, was hooked on everything about it – the beautiful way the colors mixed, the sound of the brush on the canvas, the way the paints smelled, everything. I kept painting after college but back in pre-social media days, I didn’t really see anyone I knew making a living as an artist, so I stuck to painting just for myself while working creative day jobs. It wasn’t until I got married and started traveling with my husband that I slowly came to the realization that being a professional artist is what I was mean for and was something that I could actually be.
What are your biggest influences?
I am most influenced by landscape and the natural world. My husband and I are avid hikers and nature lovers, and the memories of what I observe when we hike and travel is what comes out when I paint.
What five words best describe your work?
Atmospheric, mysterious, peaceful, organic and tranquil.
Tell us a bit about your technique.
I approach a blank canvas with excitement – no intimidation here! I begin with a quick sketch in a loose, abstracted manner, allowing the compositon to emerge as it comes. I try not to impress my own will upon it, but let it be what it will, whether that be mountain-scape, seascape or something else entirely. I work in transparent layers, often scraping into, spraying onto, or rubbing back to reveal what is hidden. Often within that process of adding and subtracting is where the composition and beautiful little details, what I like to call “sparkles”, emerge. Once the composition has taken shape, I try to tread lightly, carefully adding a little color or light here and there, and in the case of my LEMOLO series, a final opaque line or two to finish things off.
What is a typical workday like for you?
A typical studio day begins with coffee, always! I’m not much of a morning person, so I tend to do administrative type work first thing in the morning – answering emails, posting to social media, updating my website, etc. Mid-morning, I’m on my second cup of coffee and will usually sit down to do some watercolor sketching to loosen me up for the day (my #watercolorandcoffee series on Instagram are the result of this sketching time). I may start working on acrylic paintings then, or eat a bite of lunch and catch up on some of my favorite blogs before taking a walk, then spending the afternoon in the studio. I’m definitely an afternoon painter – my creativity reaches peak between 12pm-6pm, so I try to leave afternoons open for painting and will work on several paintings at a time. Usually my husband’s text that he is on the way home signals that I need to begin winding down what I’m working on and clean up. I do some minor studio clean up, then take a break and prepare dinner, eat, and dish detail (my hubby washes and I dry), then I go back and add an isolation layer of glazing medium to whatever I’ve painted that day. Because I work in so many layers, I find that the isolation layer helps add both physical and visual depth. And I love the smooth work surface it creates. Once the glazing is done, I clean my brushes and lay them out to dry in anticipation of the next studio day.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
I love that I am adding beauty to a world that can seem so ugly sometimes.