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Updated: November 2, 2022 @ 4:45 am
Local artist Sue Friesz stands in her Newport art studio in front of some of her recent work. Her body of work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and assemblages. (Photos by Susan Schuytema)
Creating microcosms of nature in 2-D and 3-D sculptures is an interest of local artist Sue Friesz. Many of her sculptures are fabricated in Plexiglas and aluminum.

Local artist Sue Friesz stands in her Newport art studio in front of some of her recent work. Her body of work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and assemblages. (Photos by Susan Schuytema)
Creating microcosms of nature in 2-D and 3-D sculptures is an interest of local artist Sue Friesz. Many of her sculptures are fabricated in Plexiglas and aluminum.
A local artist with a love of nature and concern for the environment uses those inspirations for creating colorful and eye-catching artwork.
Hailing from Missouri, Sue Friesz received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in studio art and has been creating art for decades. Friesz and her husband, who worked as a hydraulic engineer before they retired to the Oregon coast, lived in many places around the world, including Paraguay, Brazil and Egypt. She said the experience of seeing ancient art and architecture she had only read about in textbooks was life changing. “Here I was looking at hieroglyphics,” Friesz said. “It was just wonderful seeing those things in person.”
In graduate school she became quite interested in folding screens in Japan and friezes in the Parthenon, which got her interested in horizontal flow. “When I was in Brazil, I got on the roof of a hotel and took photos all the way around. It was so beautiful, the tiles were so colorful and I proceeded to work on the panels for several years,” she said. That project resulted in 13 42 by 46-inch paintings — a total of over 45 feet length.
Her work has evolved over the years and into more organic themes, such as landforms. That interest eventually led to microcosms of individual plants. “That’s kind of where I am now. Pattern is really something that I look for when I go out in the woods and try to decide what I want to draw. Pattern and movement and balance.”
Friesz will first sketch a contour drawing of her subject matter. Contour drawings are when you look more at the subject matter and less at the canvas, which gives it a little looser drawing, she explained. For her paintings, she will replicate those drawings on canvas, then begin filling the image in with acrylic colors she has blended.
Her current paintings are based around invasive species in nature. She symbolizes invasiveness in them by making manmade patterns, such as polka dots. So far, she has painted five in that series.
Painting, drawing, sculptures and assemblages in both 2D and 3D make up her body of work. “It’s like you’ve got one destiny and about four roads to get there,” Friesz said. “It’s sort of just showing different ways to get to the same thing. I like the beauty of nature based on harmony. Some of it is playful, but they all have concern for the environment.”
The sculptures Friesz designs are also based on a microcosm of nature. Like her paintings, Friesz sketches a contour drawing of a plant or tree. She then shades that drawing into three different colors. Auto CAD software separates the colors into three different pieces, which are then fabricated in Plexiglas and aluminum and finally embedded in a wooden base. The three parts evoke movement. “I kind of think of them as little habitats. The last one is the darkest and I think it gives them depth.”
Her unique style developed from the way she drew plants. She never wanted to paint any three-dimensional illusions by using shading. Because of that, she said, her work is flat. “This was a way of doing something three-dimensional without actually any illusion,” she said. “It will give you the same feeling as being out in a field looking at plants.”
Friesz will have a show with a nature theme at the Chessman Gallery in the Lincoln City Cultural Center in September.
Visit her website at www.suefriesz.com to see some of her artwork, read her artist statement and view her past exhibitions. Her Newport studio does not have regular hours, but anyone interested in seeing her work can contact her by emailing sue.friesz@yahoo.com.
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