Holly Friesen

Breathing, acrylic, 48 x 60 in 

Primal Source, acrylic on panel board, 24 x 30 in

WeavingRoots of Time, acrylic on canvas, triptych 48 x 73 in

Forest Qualia, acrylic on canvas, diptych 72 x 48 in

River of Roots, carved wood and acrylic, 12 x 9 in

Rocks Attending the River, acrylic on panel board, 18 x 22 in

Earthly Delights, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 72 in

Natura Imaginalis, acrylic on panel board, 24 x 30 in


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. Her newest pieces are largely informed by internal metaphors and dream images she encounters when painting from inside the landscape.

Artist Statement

My work revolves around earth-honoring images that reconnect us to our local bioregions. These images are meant to internalize a reverence for the earth and strengthen the process of shifting 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. This dynamic energetic exchange feels as though I am being held within an intelligent, sentient field, which expresses itself through colors, shapes and movement. I am 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. Working as a painter 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. Stepping into this altered world is a source of rejuvenation and joy beyond rational analysis. We need Art to access those places beyond the reach of reason. Art’s value resides in what it brings to life from turning the gaze inward. 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 painting. Painting is my breath, beauty my compass, and the earth my body.

Holly Friesen’s Blog

One response to “Holly Friesen”

  1. Lily Jolivet says:

    When I look at your paintings, it makes me want to escape into nature. Even being a  true City Girl,
     your paintings reminde me how nature is truly beautiful. Bravo!!!    LILY***

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