Artist Joey Frisillo’s life has included time spent in the hardcore reality of the oil patch and the free spirit confines of her painting studio.
For many years, she was an Amoco production company seismic processor before she turned her focus back to the drawing and painting she’d studied as a fine arts major at Miami University of Ohio.
Those different ways of thinking may be reflected in her style of painting, which moves from realism to abstraction. One constant between the two is that they’re all reflective of Frisillo’s love of and connection to nature.
Forty of these images are presently in her exhibition “New Beginnings,” up now at The Depot at 200 S. Jones Ave. The show’s closing reception is August 13.
Frisillo believes her artistic sensibility came into play during that earlier career, when she was analyzing velocities and frequencies.
“That work is pretty visual and analytic,” Frisillo said. “I used both sides of my brain. Definitely my artistic nature served me well in that business, along with analytic skills.”
Nature in the form of wildlife, flowers, trees, plants and landscape provide the imagery for her oil paintings, pastels and drawings.
“I base my work in the landscape from life and photographs,” Frisillo said. “I’ve just been taking it a little farther in my expression of it.”
Frisillo spends a lot of time outdoors. She lives with husband Al and canines in a scenic northeastern part of the state, near Keystone Lake.
“I walk the dogs several times a day,” she said. “We have a long walk in the evening near the lake where it’s woodsy. There’s wildflowers and bluestem grasses growing in undeveloped areas. We’re in a Cross Timbers environment with an ancient forest nearby. It’s an ecosystem with a lot of oaks and hickories.
“I’m always getting to see sunsets from our view of the lake. Those are some of the subject matter for my paintings which are in the show.”
Frisillo has been exploring unfamiliar painting techniques that will be reflected in some of New Beginnings’ work. She’s enjoying some of the unknown qualities presenting themselves.
“I’ve been using tools like the palette knife that have less control than a brush,” she said. “There’s a lot of surprising things that happen that way. I’m using cold wax, which has an interesting texture to the application. There’s a different feel to the paint when it’s applied to the surface you’re painting on. It’s kind of like spreading frosting on a cake.”
Cold wax is mixed with oil paint, which alters its consistency considerably to one resembling butter.
“You can use it real thin or thick,” she said. “You can apply it with a brayer and it very much lends itself to working with a collage technique. I’ve wanted to explore that with old photographs in the paint using a subtle, almost camouflaged imagery.”
Frisillo is attracted to divergences that occur naturally — they become part of her compositions. It may be among the reasons that landscapes at different times of year are such a significant part of her portfolio.
“The contrasts of shadows and light is always something that catches my eye,” she said. “I’ve worked over the years to portray and capture depth in landscape. How do you convey a sweeping plain in the distance and the magnitude of view?
“That’s always something that motivates me, whether it’s in a realistic way or in a new, more abstract technique I’m exploring as well. Situations that are back-lit, but there’s lighting around it and the subject matter is in shadows always inspires me. It never ends, and there are so many different ways to portray them.”
Frisillo grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She’s maintained connections to that part of the world, and one of her dealers is Castle Gallery Fine Art there. Frisillo relishes that her work is loved, shown and collected in her home town.
“That’s very special,” she said. “I’m so happy that the Castle has represented me for so many years. I still have a lot of friends there and go back quite often.”
There’s a decidedly soothing vibe to Frisillo’s art. She believes it stems from her personality.
“I’ve heard that before and I like that,” she said. “I’m pretty level headed and calm. I’m glad people feel that way about my art. Even though my newer work is less realistic, it still has that quality to it.”