Artists Sunday, Nov 27 – shop indie art this holiday season

JFries geese border

Join me for Artists Sunday, tomorrow, November 27. It’s like Small Business Saturday, but exclusively for art.

Started in 2020, Artists Sunday unites artists, creators, and makers across the US for the world’s largest art event, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, encouraging consumers to shop with artists. 

I’m excited to participate in this great program bringing artists and communities together.

Visit my online shop at Artrepreneur for works ready to ship now. Watch the shop for new works coming before Christmas.

You can also email me at jen@jenfriesarts.com to inquire about any artwork on this site, even if it’s not yet listed in the shop.

Plus, if you are or will be in the Somerville, MA, area any time, email me to arrange local, in-person pick-up of your purchases, and save the cost and delay of holiday shipping.

And don’t forget to:

  • Follow me on Facebook: @JenFriesArts
  • Subscribe to my newsletter for project updates and studio news: Sign Up
  • If you’re shopping for yourself, add my shop to your holiday wish-list so your friends and family will know what you like.

An Alchemy of Dragons, Ch. 3, in which Erran is rudely awakened

Read it here: Ch. 3: Sharp rapping on the caravan wall…


…woke Erran in the early dawn on his second day in Chesny Wold.

His meeting with the wyvern the day before had been brief, dominated by beak and teeth, colorful head frills, huge eyes rising above him on a snake-ish neck, and shrieks like a hundred raging harpies. Finding the human amongst the leftovers of its meal, the wyvern had sought no introduction, but lunged straightaway. Erran instinctively dropped down among the deer bones, rolled under the trunk of a fallen tree, and froze behind it.

The massive head did not appear above him, and after about a minute of listening to angry thrashing and growling, Erran took a deep breath and a chance. He jumped up and shot his arrow into the bushes. The beast’s head whipped around after the sound, and Erran took off in the opposite direction, leaving the wyvern entangled in brambles.

It had been encounter enough, though, and he had spent most of that night in the caravan in the stable yard of the Old Ram, going through his books and crafting spells.

Now, summoned by the incessant knocking, he climbed from his bed, shaking papers from the blankets, and stepped out to find most of the Chesny Council with more questions and complaints.

He could at least tell them what kind of dragon it was.

“It’s a blood wyvern,” he said, rubbing his eyes.

“A what?” was the chorused response.


Things go downhill from there for Erran Fox, Ranger of the Beast Goddess.

Need to catch up with Chapters 1 and 2? Click here for the Index.

The illustrations for An Alchemy of Dragons draw on traditional Celtic patterns and Medieval illuminations. I got on a bit of a roll this month, and also added another illustration to Chapter 2, along with ornamental section separators in all the chapters, copied from 14th century French manuscripts.


New in Chapter 2, the signboard of The Old Ram.

An Alchemy of Dragons, Ch. 2, is ready for reading

Read it here: Ch. 2: Be a smart fox, Erran.


Chesny Wold was a soft land of green meadows dotted with flowers. The undulating terrain rose and dipped like waves in motion. They had landed near one of the Temple’s shrines, a water hole circled by standing stones carved with Nimrie’s symbols. All creatures might stop here as they pleased and be blessed by the place’s sacred aura. Yet no beasts grazed these pastures, as far as Erran could see.

Nearby in one direction, a line of trees marked a road, and in another, a soft sound and a fresh, earthy smell suggested a swift-running stream. Over one hill rose a faint haze of chimney smoke. On the slopes and ridge of another stood a dark mass that seemed to resist the dawn. Shadow and tension radiated into the air above it like a different kind of smoke.

“I would keep clear of that place, brother,” a voice called out.


Did you miss Chapter 1? No problem! Click here to see the Index of Chapters.

Like all the art for An Alchemy of Dragons, the illustrations for Chapter 2 are done in walnut ink and soft pastel on paper.

An Alchemy of Dragons is Go!

Chapter 1: Once upon a time, an unreasonable wyvern came to Chesny Wold.

It’s here!

A few days late. Problems were solved. Technology was cursed. Friends were subjected to social media rants. And the web novel is launched. Like magic.

And since this is Jen Fries Arts, An Alchemy of Dragons is illustrated with new original art. Check it out!

Read Chapter 1 here.

And read the full story description here.

Interview: Bringing Order to Chaos

News! I was recently interviewed for The Somerville Times by poet, publisher, and arts editor, Doug Holder. We touched on my personal history, my creative process in art and writing, and my sources of inspiration.

It’s perhaps a little more of a glimpse behind the curtain than I often give out, and I’m excited to share it with you all. It’s drawing me out of my burrow, as it were, just a bit.

I’d like to thank Doug for his kind interest in my work and for asking wonderful questions that made it easy for a recluse like me to talk about myself.

You can read the full interview now at Doug’s website, Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene.

It is also planned to appear in The Somerville Times newspaper soon.

Traveling inside my head: Abstract Landscapes

Pareidolia is the tendency to see specific, meaningful images in random or ambiguous patterns. 

I like to pick out order from chaos. And I like to go a-wandering, and find random things of meaning.

Uncontrollable media like water are good for me because the randomness breaks my perfectionism. They force me to cede some control and to find a rapport with accidental occurrences and effects. They make me listen and look. Rather than obsessively planning every detail of an artwork – and I can get real obsessive – by following the movements of fluid media, I feel like I am receiving art brought to me by the universe.

It seems the universe brings me a lot of landscapes. I guess I have nature on the brain.

Here are four new abstract landscapes in watercolor, all 9 x 5.75 inches. In all of them, I randomly messed about with paint, water, brushes and tools, and then considered the results from various angles to find the views that emerged in the drying. Two of them work so well in different orientations that, rather than pick one, I signed them on all the sides I liked.


Maybe a seascape – waves on a beach? I enjoy the play of color and the storminess of it.


Definitely a seascape. Is there a figure, perhaps walking along a sandbar at low tide?


Two for one. In one orientation, it’s rolling hills, with perhaps a pond, and distant buildings. In another orientation, it’s a forest.


Abstract Landscape 4a, b, c, d. Four! Count ‘em – four coherent images on one piece of paper. I see a sort of darkening, perhaps twilight, marshy view, then a forest, then heavy rain over what might be a farmhouse, and finally another forest view.


Drop a comment and let me know where these images take you. And how do you feel when something random – a cloud, a pattern of light through curtains, whatever it may be – suddenly connects with you and tells a story?

New Work: April Moon

JFries april moon 4.22
Rabbit in moonlight
Moths dance
Returning home

This one is about the gifts the universe sends us, the treasures we pass by on the road. 

The moon was particularly beautiful over Somerville last night, when the storm clouds parted. It was bright enough to light my room, overcoming the street lamps. The wet air smelled of spring.

By the way, we call April’s moon the Pink Moon, not because it looks pink, but because it’s the month for pinks, the flower, to bloom. Indeed, my city is filling up with flowers now.

I repurposed one of my blue landscapes for this collage. Sometimes an image has more to say, and I will often revisit older pieces that seem like they want to go in a different direction. In fact, I won’t let go of a piece until I’m sure it is what it wants to be.

Happy Spring, all.

-Jen

On Terrible Times

Bees and sunflowers, an allegory for these days. (Taken in my garden last year.)

I struggled to write this post – any post, really – for a long while.

I have things to say, news to tell, but how can I write about my career and work and personal life in the horrible and tragic context of the world right now? It seems so discordant and even inappropriate to talk about myself. I guess I’m not alone in this feeling.

But I think maybe I’m wrong about it – not wrong in my emotions, but maybe wrong in my thinking. I don’t know, but freezing in place is not an option, regardless of anything else. I must work, I must speak, so here I am.

Because I’m an artist. A creative. If I’m not speaking and showing, then what am I doing? Why am I here? These times when things are so bad, when our hearts are being crushed every fifteen minutes by the news of war (and before now, by pandemic, and before that by racist brutality, and before that by environmental disaster, etc., etc.), this is when people in my line of work have to step up. Whether we provoke or comfort, give clarity or reassurance, this is what our profession is for, ultimately.

So I hope, in the coming days, you will find something in what I offer this year – relevance, escape, inspiration, whatever. I hope it will help – me as well as you.

Finally, since I do express my opinions on this site, I will state for my own public record my personal support for the nation and people of Ukraine and my absolute condemnation of Putin, his indefensible war of choice, and his crimes against humanity. I also express my anger and disgust at the general tolerance for fascism and aggression in many countries, including my own, which I believe helped to encourage that murderous bastard to do this insane thing. 

My feelings on this are strong, and honestly, together with other strong feelings I have, I’m reaching the limit of my willingness to soften my manners for the sake of politeness. No, really, I have actually been doing that up to now. Things can and probably will get even pointier and slappier here at the studio, so I hope you’re okay with that, because I’m kind of thinking I’ve been wrong in my approach, like so many of us in so many ways. And I’m kind of done with that.

Anyway, the experts all say the public want to get to know the artist. So, okie-dokie then. Blame the experts.

-Jen

PS: Sketches, new works and projects, and studio news will begin flowing shortly, in a series of posts. Watch this space.

And Sings the Tune: New Art, New Cat

JFries birds border 7.2021

I can hardly believe it has been about three months since my last update, but as most of you know, I tend to fall off the planet fairly regularly. I don’t apologize for it. When I have crap to work through that’s irrelevant to anyone else, I just do it without showing it to anyone. But finally, I do have news to share.

New work on exhibit this summer

“Sometimes the neighbors are up all night,” collage and acrylic on paper.

JFries sometimes the neighbors 6.30.2021
And sings the tune without the words…

This new work is inspired by our local wild birds, whose songs frequently echo through the streets at night, when all else is relatively quiet. I find the birds’ nightlife deeply reassuring. Even in something as small as a bird singing in the dark, we are reminded that we share a living and lively world. The collage is 7 x 10 inches, and made with copies of vintage images, bars of music randomly sliced from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite,” my own blue landscape in acrylic paste, and a line from Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing With Feathers.”

It’s part of the summer show at the Brickbottom Gallery, “The Great Outdoors,” running July 15 – August 14, 2021. Visit the Brickbottom website at This Link for details.

A Cat

Allow me to introduce Luna Lynx, Lady Silvertip, our new cat and studio assistant.

lunalynx 6.2021
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” – Jean Cocteau

She has been with us about a month and is still in studio orientation, but has taken the job of House Cat well in hand. According to the good folks at Animal Rescue League of Boston, although very young herself, she had just weaned off a litter of kittens before coming to us. I believe she has transferred her maternal instincts to her two new humans. Luna Lynx is extremely attentive, playful and nurturing. She scolds us if we wander off, makes sure we eat on time and get our exercise, and checks on us in our beds at night. 

I’m grateful because we have needed someone to take care of us these past few sad months. With her to get us up and running, I feel like we can finally start to move again and that the winter – and all of last year, really – is over at last.

Finally, watch this space for upcoming projects and a new online shop system, coming soon.

Blue Lakes and the solace of creating

This has been a difficult winter for us at the apartment attached to the studio. I’ll tell you about it at some future date. For now, suffice to say, we are dealing with unhappy things, and the least of my troubles is that my nearly decade-old Mac computer finally broke down. I write this on a loaner PC (thanks, Mom), and due to various techly things I’m not coping with right now, I can’t upload any of my new photos to prove that I’ve actually been doing stuff. So… whatever. On the scale of things, the computer is annoying because it doesn’t matter, but it does interrupt.

I’ve been working on paper sculptures of eggs and rabbits, naturally, because yay-spring. Also working on my occult detective novel – again. And that one ambitious project. They’re all coming along rather nicely. I wish I could show them to you.

Instead, I’m adding some spring-ly works to the Shop, beginning with four small landscape paintings, the Blue Lakes. They are kind of misty and moody, and they speak both to my state of mind and the time of year. I used paste-paint on paper and improvised with folds, blots, pulls, and mark-making. In some you can spot finger impressions, creases, and other flaws helping to build the image of a watery landscape.

The Blue Lakes Series

Every so often this March, look for more paintings and collages to the Shop, in celebration of the season.

Someone I admire recently observed that creative work is therapeutic. It takes one out of oneself. It’s true. These past few weeks, the meditative ASMR of my pen on the paper, and the brush applying layers of paste and paper, and birds jumping around in the tree by my window has been my refuge. Engaging all my senses in my materials – the textures, sounds, smells, colors – making adjustments as I go along, not overthinking things but just floating in the process – it’s pretty much the only thing that lets me forget my cares for a while, lets me feel just free and existing.

It doesn’t last, but the work is always there, waiting, anytime I need a break. There’s a life-lesson there, after this traumatic year. If you have something that gets your mind off yourself, that feeds your senses, and leaves you with something positive at the end of the day or hour, indulge in it. It’s medicine, and we all need it, as surely as we need a vaccine.

Take care and take it easy, everyone.