Art inspired by nature | Culture & Leisure

A nature-loving and eco-conscious local artist uses these inspirations to create colorful and eye-catching works of art.

A native of Missouri, Sue Friesz earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in studio art and has been creating art for decades. Friesz and her husband, who worked as a hydraulic engineer before retiring on the Oregon coast, have lived in many places around the world, including Paraguay, Brazil and Egypt. She said the experience of seeing ancient art and architecture that she had only heard about in textbooks was life-changing. “Here I was looking at the hieroglyphs,” Friesz said. “It was just wonderful to see these things in person.”

During her graduate studies, she became very interested in folding screens in Japan and the friezes of the Parthenon, which led her to become interested in horizontal flow. “When I was in Brazil, I climbed on the roof of a hotel and took pictures all around. It was so beautiful, the tiles were so colorful and I kept working on the panels for several years,” she said. This project resulted in 13 paintings measuring 42 by 46 inches — a total of over 45 feet in length.

His work has evolved over the years and towards more organic themes, such as reliefs. This interest eventually led to microcosms of individual plants. “That’s kind of where I am now. Pattern is really something I look for when I’m out in the woods and trying to decide what I want to draw. Pattern, movement and balance.

Friesz will first sketch an outline drawing of his subject. Contour drawings are when you look more at the subject and less at the canvas, giving it a slightly looser design, she explained. For her paintings, she will reproduce these designs on canvas and then begin to fill the image with acrylic colors that she has mixed together.

His current paintings are based on invasive species in nature. It symbolizes invasion by creating artificial patterns, such as polka dots. So far, she has painted five in this series.

Painting, drawing, sculptures and assemblies in 2D and 3D make up his work. “It’s like you have a destiny and about four roads to get there,” Friesz said. “It’s kind of just showing different ways of getting to the same thing. I love the beauty of nature based on harmony. Some of them are playful, but they are all environmentally conscious.

The sculptures designed by Friesz are also based on a microcosm of nature. Like his paintings, Friesz sketches an outline drawing of a plant or tree. She then shades this design in three different colors. The Auto CAD software separates the colors into three different pieces, which are then made from plexiglass and aluminum and finally integrated into a wooden base. The three parts evoke movement. “I sort of think of them as little habitats. The last one is the darkest and I think that gives them depth.

Her unique style developed from the way she drew the plants. She never wanted to paint three-dimensional illusions using shading. Because of this, she says, her work is flat. “It was a way of doing something in three dimensions without any illusions,” she said. “It will give you the same feeling as being in a field looking at plants.”

Friesz will have a nature-themed show at the Chessman Gallery at the Lincoln City Cultural Center in September.

Visit his website at to view some of his work, read his artist statement, and view his past exhibitions. Her Newport studio does not have regular hours, but anyone interested in seeing her work can contact her by emailing


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