Debra Prinzing

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Art that makes me happy

June 3rd, 2008

Liz Lyons Friedman, at the easel inside her studio [William Wright photo]

Liz Lyons Friedman, artist and printmaker extraordinaire, creates joy-inducing pictures in her boathouse-turned-atelier in Aptos, California (near Santa Cruz). Her vibrant artwork documents life, love, food, wine, home, garden, travel and more — all those pursuits cherished by lovers of beauty. The stuff of which memories and friendship are made. One of her recent series of prints is aptly entitled “Celebrations.”

After we discovered Liz (thanks to Christina Glynn of the Santa Cruz Tourism Bureau), Bill and I knew we would have a blast photographing her gallery-like studio. We arrived v-e-r-y early one March morning in 2007, in need of caffeine and hauling all sorts of camera equipment and lighting out of my Subaru stationwagon.

Boathouse-turned-art studio, enhanced by a cactus garden designed and planted by Liz and her partner John Gavrilis [William Wright photo]

We shot the exterior of Liz’s studio at dawn, the filtered light gracing a sculptural garden of cactus and succulents. Inside her 10-by-25 foot “shoe box,” Liz has created a gallerylike space for making and displaying her artwork. A 16-foot-long bank of windows faces the garden and ocean, drawing much-desired natural light to the interior spaces where her easel and printing press stand. Plastered walls, finished in a warm golden hue, highlight the framed prints that hang in nicely-organized groupings. French doors, worktables and a printing press finish the space.

Liz describes it this way:

“I go inside and it’s so peaceful there,” she says. “I think back to the French ateleirs, and that artists have always wanted a place to get away from everyday life and its distractions – and focus on their painting and drawing.”

“Gardening Tools,” Hand colored linocut  © Liz Lyons Friedman

Liz says that the idea for one of her more recent pieces, “Gardening Tools,” came from spending a day with Bill and me as we photographed her at work, carving a flower with U- and V-shaped knives as she sliced sections of lino tile to reveal the beautiful flower she had designed. She reminded me of the story in a recent email:

“We were chatting about pouring a glass of wine and then going out to the garden in the evening to water or putter. I always point out that the glass of wine is the most important gardening tool in the piece!”

This charming print is the result of her imagination, artistic inspiration and fond memories of time spent in the garden. It makes me very happy to look at, as I imagine Liz puttering in this garden scene. Lines from my chapter about Liz are appropriate to share here:

“In designing this studio, my motive was to make it a happy space, because I make happy art.”

Thank you, Liz! It is a joy to have you in the pages of Stylish Sheds

2 Responses to “Art that makes me happy”

  1. Tom & Pat Clarke Says:

    We purchased our first collagraph print from Liz in 1990 before she migrated to linocuts and believe we may have one of the largest collections of art work done by Liz, including all of her award winning posters. Her quote about making “happy art” so accurately describes her work as does the wine glass in the “Gardening Tools” linocut. However, our favorite is still her 1993 collagraph titled “Good Friends, Good Times, Good Wine”. Thank you for including her atelier in your book and so accurately describing her approach to art.

    Tom & Pat Clarke

    P.S. As a retired IBM’er, I found John Patrick’s home office in the Wall Street Journal article most intriguing. Since it was not in the book, do you have any other pictures you can share?

  2. spider plants Says:

    Just the information I have been looking for. I do admire your writing style and the clarity in your piece is just great. Thanks

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