Spring starts this Wednesday, March 20! The trees are budding. The first green shoots are showing through winter’s litter. The birds and animals are setting up house. The sun is higher and warmer, and everything seems full of energy and movement.
I celebrated by making my annual mistake of cleaning my rooms. I learned that I don’t need any more clothes or hair ties, my cats don’t need any more toys, and the only things that are ever truly lost are the ones that are a big pain to replace. I didn’t even do the Kondo method, and I’m overwhelmed – but motivated afresh.
Experiments with monoprint continue, and I’ve started a small set of collages on paper using natural botanical bits. This first one is a tribute to the season and our city rabbits down by the Mystic estuary. It belongs to my ongoing series about walks around town.
Welcome to the new and improved, shiny and fresh Jen Fries Arts website for 2019. Naturally, it’s still in progress, with more to come throughout January. But it is open for reading, viewing, and commenting as of this first day of the new year.
What has changed?
Pages: You’ll notice some of my pages are gone. This is only temporary as content is being updated with better images and new projects. Look for more pages coming soon as well, including online projects.
Navigating: All of the information about me is now found under the Home tab in the site menu, including About, Contact, and the Dedication to my late founding partner, Gomez Addams. There’s also a spiffy new FAQ page, since so much of what I do makes hardly any sense. Feel free to send me questions. If they are asked frequently enough, they’ll get added to the page.
Site Title: “Instant Elixir Cures All” is only temporarily out of sight. It is evolving into the name/title/imprimatur of a new venture. Follow and/or visit often to keep up to date.
Update Schedule: I’m shooting for an update every ten days or so this year. I know I don’t have an excellent record that way, but the times they are a-changing and so, hopefully, will my habits. It’s the new year, people – resolutions and all that.
Exciting Plans: I am fairly champing at the bit for the work on my calendar this year, including:
Writing: I will integrate my writing with my artwork in this site. Look for books, challenges, and prompts, as well as illustrated projects.
That Dollhouse I Was Building All Last Year: Is finally becoming something. I’m so up about this one. Wait till you see what I’m doing. Look for progress reports as we go.
Learning and Sharing: I was stretching my wings a bit in 2018, and I’m eager to share in 2019 what I’ve been learning about printmaking, wildlife spotting, and home-made art supplies.
And so much more…
Please enjoy the new site. As I say, it’s under construction, so if you find any errors, broken links, etc., please let me know. One thing I know isn’t working at the moment is the email account, but please use the Blog comments to chat, correct, or critique, until that gets fixed.
Thanks, everyone. I wish you all the best. Let’s have fun this year. I think we deserve it.
Hello, all. It’s been a while. Things have been kind of crazy, y’know, the way they get. Anyway, I have been extremely busy with work and planning and organizing and birding and politics and preparing for gardening, and through it all, I have been shingling the dollhouse roof.
I’m going for the look of slate, and I hope you’ll think I got close. It’s been some fun on the Google, first looking up what slate generally looks like, then how to fake it with paint, then what slate roofs in particular look like, then how to build a slate roof, and from there deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of roofing, skylights and all that sort of jazz.
The following images show some of what I came up with. I painted more manila folders with a small-scale slate effect and others with a copper effect, because slate or other stone tile roofs will often have metal flashing and gutters at their seams, and those will sometimes be made of copper, according to my admittedly superficial research. I went more for look than structural accuracy. In my defense, my neighbor, who is a roofer, says this is pretty much correct. I find it relaxing and fun to cover sheets of paper with faux paint effects. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person, but it would suck if I didn’t enjoy it, as I need to do a lot of it.
These photos are couple of weeks old, and more progress has been made since they were taken. The work is going quickly at this point, which makes it hard to take a break for blog updates. It is about time I began work on the characters who will play out their drama in this house, as well as the furnishings and props, too.
By the way, the blog’s new background photo is a shot I took of a tree on my street, against a wet, gray sky, the bare branches just getting knobby with their first buds. Springtime in New England!
These past weeks I’ve been working very hard on the dollhouse for my mystery graphic novel project. There were a couple of setbacks since January. I decided the acetate windows would not work for photography, so I had to cut them out and replace the mullion bars with toothpicks. Next, I realized the second floor is too dark to see into if the back roof/gable panel is in place, so I dithered for some time about how to fix that problem. But finally, all that was done, and today I put color on the exterior walls.
As you see, I went with a sunny yellow, which will be complemented by colors on the gingerbread ornaments still to come. Next, I will tile the roof, for which I painted card stock to look like slate. You can see a hint of that, dry-fitted with tape, in one of the photos.
As with most labor-intensive projects, it’s amazing how suddenly real progress can appear, and after months of slogging, the thing looks like it will soon be finished. It’s quite energizing.
Yellow dollhouse, in progress, front.
Yellow dollhouse, north side and back, in progress.
Yellow dollhouse, south side and back, in progress
Yellow dollhouse, south side and front, in progress.
It’s been a crazy several weeks, with a strained knee, two bouts of the flu, a blizzard followed by record warmth in February, and a nor’easter to usher in March like a lion, so I haven’t had time to put together a blog post until now. But progress has been made, and a new hobby has emerged.
On the dollhouse, the clapboard siding is finished at last, and I am working now on replacing the acetate in the windows with small wood frames. I found it difficult to focus a camera through the acetate, and in any event, I just didn’t like it all that much.
And the new hobby – wildlife-spotting around scenic urban Somerville. My at-home feeders serve a resident flock of about 15 resident European house sparrows, two pairs of house finches, one lingering junco, a mated pair of northern cardinals, several mourning doves, two blue jays, and the ubiquitous feral pigeons and gray squirrels. Meanwhile, near where I work my day job, I’ve also noticed a welcome return of water fowl to the Mystic estuary, where year-round herring gulls and summer-resident Canada geese have been joined by a pair each of red-breasted mergansers and mallard ducks, and some red-throated loons appear from time to time. This past month, I decided to break out the camera.
Windows in progress
Bay window in progress
Looking into the kitchen
The Birds on the Estuary
Low tide on the Mystic estuary with pier and Tobin bridge.
Red-throated loons hanging together. This pair did a little waltz in slow circles around each other.
Red-throated loon in winter color
Male red-breasted merganser with fish
Red-breasted merganser pair with a fish
Herring gull after clams
Canada geese just landed on the ball field at Ryan Playground, Charlestown on the Mystic.
Construction continues on my New England beach house project, using the Orchid dollhouse as the starting point. Ironically, while putting up clapboard siding, one manila strip at a time, I find myself cursing the noise of the workmen putting up clapboard siding, one wooden strip at a time, on the house across the street. Life / Art. I’m pleased with the effect of the paper clapboarding. You can also see a little of the interior and the kitchen cabinetry. This cozy-modern cottage will be the setting of a story about trying to get away from it all, as a graphic novel illustrated with collaged photos. Stay tuned for further updates.
I found these little chrysanthemum flowers floating loose in my journal from last October. They looked like suns to me, so I made this collage sketch, with another of my collection of fortune cookie messages, musing on the dangers of ideas, as in the Greek myth.
I heard somewhere once, many years ago, that at a certain latitude, if the sky is clear and you look due north at an unobstructed horizon, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s night, you will see Sirius, Orion’s dog, at its apogee, with winter’s Orion setting to the west of it, and his mortal enemy, spring’s Scorpio rising to the east of it, and the two constellations will be equidistant above the Earth. So the story of Orion the Hunter, lover of Artemis, killed by the poisoned sting of Hera’s scorpion, marks the passage of winter and the new year.
I don’t know if this is true, but I think it should be, and already, the sun is setting a little later, haven’t you noticed?
This little journal collage is my first artwork of 2018. I’m calling it The Future of Orion, inspired by this video from the European Space Agency: Youtube Link.
The little snippet of text is my New Year’s dinner fortune cookie message. “Your fate is in no one else but you, in no hands but yours.”
Plus, I made some little crumpled-paper mushrooms – my first attempts – out of napkins. Super ephemeral, but I rather like them. I’ll play with these a bit more.
Happy New Year!
The Future of Orion, a page in my journal dated January 1, 2018, collage with acrylic paint.
What a hectic fall/winter its been since Brickbottom Open Studios and Thanksgiving. I will have to get caught up with what I’ve been up to — new ideas, photo safaris around my town, experiments with my new camera. In the meantime, here are a few shots of my worktable leading up to Yule. I was inspired by the amazing, rococo work of French artist, Laetitia Mieral. Check her out at her website, Merveilles en Papier.
I can’t really carry off full-on rococo. I love it. It’s gorgeous. I adore everything 18th century, but I’m possibly more Georgian than Baroque, more built-in cabinets than putti-painted ceilings. Still, enchanted by Laetitia’s work, I experimented with some paper bows, and some more modern-style baubles, to deck the halls for Christmas. Still learning.
Materials piling up on the wet media table.
Fun with painted stripes on standard sketch paper.