Creators, Makers & Doers: Rick Friesen

Posted on 4/29/15 by Arts & History


At his North-End, Boise home, Rick Friesen quietly paints with a humble determination. Snapshots of landscapes and familiar faces adorn the studio walls of this 21-year veteran to Boise’s creative class. Quoting Picasso, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working,” Friesen opens up to Arts & History staff, discussing the challenges of living and working in the City of Trees and where he finds inspiration. As one of the original founders of The Basement Gallery (a local gallery, now closed), Friesen’s artwork can be found in the City of Boise’s public art collection, including a recent  purchase of artwork added to the Boise Visual Chronicle.


What is your preferred medium and why?

I like all mediums, but painting seems like the easiest one to turn into money and to make a living with. I’ve also made a lot of sculpture, but sculptures don’t sell. I do like oil painting; I’ve taken a lot of painting classes and really enjoy painting portraits and plein-air landscapes. I just roll with what feels right at the time.


What are you working on right now?

I’m working on local landscapes mostly inspired from photographs I’ve taken on walks. I’m trying to get set up to paint from life, but, I have a big French easel which weighs about 20 pounds. I’m working on a kit so I can paint quick, small works instead of relying on my iphone for my images.

I’m also trying to work in a looser style, just to be a better painter. I’d like to get to the point where I can paint all the right tones right off the bat. I like the looser areas in paintings. It becomes about knowing when to stop sooner and not overthinking it. I’m always trying to learn new stuff about painting. I don’t think painting is something you can ever master. If you think you’ve mastered it, you’re pretty delusional.

Have you always been able to make a living as an artist?

Just barely, I am always scraping by. You have to live on faith when you do this. I like to design and build sheds and redo rooms and bathrooms. I’ve done murals and a little bit of design work, which to me is all creative.

What is your art making schedule like and how many hours a week or day do you work?

Sometimes I go for weeks without painting and sometimes I paint every day for weeks, up to 4-5 hours a day. I tend to work when I feel comfortable, when I think I can do whatever I want because I have enough money in the bank. It depends though, I might have to go look for a remodeling job or something else to supplement my income. It’s just life, right? I’m not considering a regular job.


What’s the history of this workspace and your relationship to it?

It’s been through a few evolutions, this workspace. I have considered selling and moving to Garden City and doing what Surel did. I don’t know how soon or if for sure at this point. I’m not sure if I have enough equity to buy a lot in garden city and build a studio from scratch, which is what I’d like to do- design and build my own space. I have been trying to do some teaching out of this space, which is another reason why I’d like to move. In Garden City, I could build a nice big space with plenty of room and proper sinks.

Are you able to sell work in Boise? What kind of work sells best?

The kind of work I sell is local and more traditional work. There are so few people doing it here. It seems like people are taught in school, not to do regular, traditional oil painting. Some people think landscapes are so passé, or old school, but it’s what people are buying here. I also love doing portraits, but I don’t think people are into having their portrait painted; it’s almost tacky to have your own portrait hanging in your house.

I’m getting, or staying busy, by gaining friends on Facebook. People see my work on Facebook and immediately ask if it’s sold, then buy it. Most of the works are two to three hundred dollar paintings. There is however, a need for galleries in town.


Are there any particular artists that you look to for inspiration?

There are some local artists doing great work, like Rachel Teannalach. She’s up every morning with a picture of new work posted before I get out of bed. It’s very inspiring in a way. I’ve also been following an artist out of L.A. named William Wray. He’s a great painter, doing really loose and large work. Like me, he goes out and takes photos and paints from his images. It’s funny though; he was the Ren & Stimpy artist and now paints traditional and loose works.


Do you ever reach a period where your inspiration dries out?

Well I have enough images to inspire me and keep me working for a while. However, I just read a quote by Picasso where he says, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working,” so if you wait around for inspiration to strike you, you won’t get much done.


Creators, Makers, and Doers highlights the lives and work of Boise artists and creative individuals. Selected profiles focus on individuals whose work has been supported by the Boise City Dept. of Arts & History.


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