NAME: Linda Frueh
LOCATION: San Diego, CA
Sum up your creative process in one word/phrase, and explain why.
I’m usually inspired by a mood that I’d like to express. This focus really evolved from my love of color and the way people responded to my early work using emotional words. They would talk about how a piece makes them feel. Now start with a feeling or mood and choose colors and compositions that will capture it.
Were you always an artist, even as a child? What was your path to becoming an artist?
Always. I have a charm bracelet given to me by my grandmother. The very first charm she gave me, when I was six, is an artist’s palette.
My path was not direct. I fought it, kept it in the background. I took art classes “on the side” through college, my first job, even in grad school studying business. Everyone who knew me knew it was my great love but I never thought it possible that I could BE an artist.
In my late 30s, I was miserable in a corporate job, no family, and frustrated as hell. I asked myself what I’d do if time and money were no objects. “Go to art school” popped up in my mind. So I applied to an art school in Oakland, CA, quit my job and jumped in. After a year of studio classes, I decided my money was better spent on tools and materials than tuition, so I set up a home studio and just took specific short courses when I needed to learn a new skill.
What is your medium of choice and what drew you to this particular medium?
I work in encaustic. It’s a phenomenal cross between painting and sculpture, and sculpture is my true love. It’s very immediate (more than glass and metal, which I studied in art school,) and is infinitely versatile in carrying color and texture in different ways.
Is there any particular experience, person, place, or thing that inspires you to create? Tell us about that.
My great inspirations for mood and use of color and volume are the pastel artist Wolf Khan, an Enamelist named Judith Schwarcz and Mark Rothko. While in art school I met Mark Perlman, an amazing encaustic artist whose world blew me away. So I guess he was the true catalyst. I’d never have tried it if not for him. It still took about 10 years for me to try it and then I fell in love.
During this quarantine period, I’ve found myself working with a little more contrast and with brighter colors. Instead of, or maybe as a response to, fear and discouragement, I find myself wanting to express hope and optimism.
What is it like showing your work to people and what do you hope people take away from it?
It was very scary at first. It felt presumptuous. Now it’s tremendously thrilling. There’s nothing like seeing a person walk up to a piece of work and start talking about how it makes them feel, unprompted, almost as though no one was watching.
I hope people feel a sense of beauty, mystery, and hope when they see my work. I want it to elevate their mood, or intrigue them in a way. Boredom would be the worst response.
What did winning the Award for Excellence mean to you?
This award was the very first public acknowledgment of me as an artist. It was so affirming, so encouraging, to stay on the path.
What advice do you have for other artists who may be looking to get their work exhibited?
Try lots of things – publish online, participate in exhibitions and shows. Submit work to competitions. Someone will see your work and offer you a gallery spot or a commission. In any case, you’ll get feedback on your work. It will reinforce your confidence in your identity as an artist.