Artist Rick Friesen recently completed work on a 45-foot-long mural for the MK Nature Center.
Friesen’s recently completed mural is of “a tabletop for a birder if they are out in the field with notebooks and sketches about birds in this particular mural.”

Artist Rick Friesen recently completed work on a 45-foot-long mural for the MK Nature Center.
Friesen’s recently completed mural is of “a tabletop for a birder if they are out in the field with notebooks and sketches about birds in this particular mural.”

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Boise’s arts community has a wealth of painters who matriculated through Boise State University. Rick Friesen is one of these artists who turn out arresting portraits, familiar landscapes, and iconic spots. Friesen’s distinct and cheerful palette resonates with local collectors and far-away fans, especially since social media has revealed his collections to people all over.
“Portraits are probably one of my favorite things to do,” Friesen said. “When I went to Boise State and graduated in 1990, I had a wonderful instructor named Bryant Eastman from the Art Center in Pasadena, who recently passed away a few weeks ago, I just heard. He had just graduated and was able to teach us some good basics.”
Friesen described that instinctual feeling is what informs his work. “Starting with the alignment of the head, it’s a long process but to get the look I move things around until that feeling is there and it feels right, and that person is looking back at me,” he said. He prefers to paint a portrait in person. But, he adds, “I have done a lot of portraits from life, and I find it works best if the sitter is looking right at you because the portrait looks right back out at you or the viewers.”
Friesen is hopeful that the demand for more art galleries will increase as Boise grows. “There are not many galleries in town, but the ones here are great. But maybe galleries aren’t as important as they used to be with the internet and people seeing works online.” Social media has helped Friesen get more direct exposure, and he says it’s made a difference for him. “Yes, I like to post most of the things I paint and make on Facebook and Instagram. It does help, and with my Facebook friends sharing images, I will occasionally sell something from that.”
The North End is home for Friesen, who has a studio set up in his house. “I’ve been in the same house for 27 years, so I had a nice studio set up in my garage,” Friesen said, “but I converted that space into an AirBnB about six years ago. And now have a great studio set up in my living room, and sometimes I do paintings on location.”
Iconic landmarks and landscapes are always popular with local clientele, he said. “If I paint something super local, you have a good chance of selling it; I would rather look for the things that are iconic just to the locals whether it is a little drive-in or a scene that’s known as one of the more popular places.”
The MK Nature Center is home to his work in the bee exhibit there and more recently, a nearly 50-foot-long mural.
“I recently finished the mural,” he said. “(The MK Nature Center) was such a nice place to work. I did a big landscape behind the bee exhibit, an educational mural with flowers. But about a year ago, they asked me if I would do one for their auditorium, and it is all about their bird viewing window. It’s about 45 feet long and 10 feet high with information about birds. It looks like a tabletop for a birder if they are out in the field with notebooks and sketches about birds in this particular mural.”
You can spot Friesen’s artwork in the city of Boise’s public art collection, including pieces added to the Boise Visual Chronicle. Friesen’s art is also all over town. His public art includes maintenance hole utility covers on Broad Street, an electrical box at Ninth and Myrtle, a bus stop at Vista and Overland, a mural on the side of the Cabana Inn motel and more.
Friesen says Boise is a natural art magnet. “Great artists are working in Boise. Maybe it’s a nice place to live?”
If you want to learn watercolor or enameling, you can book with Friesen, who also teaches painting and the art of enameling at Fort Boise Community Center.
To learn more about his art, follow him on Instagram at @rick_friesen.
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