by Lorie Lewis Ham
We at KRL feel it is important to support every segment of the local arts and entertainment communities, and this week we are interviewing Fresno artist Laura Fraedrich, of The Peculiar Palette. She was born and raised in New Jersey, lived in Phoenix for 15 years, and then finally ended up in Fresno.
KRL: What type of art do you create?
Laura: I make brightly colored and whimsical mixed media and ceramic art. My goal is to make people feel happy when they look at my pieces.
KRL: What medium do you use?
Laura: I work mostly with ceramic materials (clay, slip, underglazes and glazes) and acrylic paint. I love working with so many different kinds of media that I usually try to combine as many as I can into one piece. There are so many fun art supplies out there that it’s impossible for me to just choose one favorite. Most of my paintings consist of not only acrylic paint, but also collage, markers, gel pens, inks, and whatever else I can squeeze into it. My motto is ‘more is more’.
KRL: What led you to create this kind of art?
Laura: I think it dates back to when I first started taking pottery classes. I had a teacher that was a real serious artist and was very stringent in what he defined ‘real art’ to be. I would always play around with trying to get brighter colors with the glazes and put more whimsical designs on my pieces. My teacher started calling me ‘Laura Foo Foo’ because my art wasn’t as serious as what he wanted me to make. He eventually retired, and my new teacher was an artist that I had always admired for her fun and unique designs. She introduced me to a whole new world and style of pottery that totally changed my approach to making art.
KRL: What do you feel is unique about your art?
Laura: My ceramic art is unique because I like to apply the techniques I use in mixed media painting to my ceramic pieces. This creates a whole different look than what has been traditional in the industry. I worked really hard to develop my own style so that people would recognize my art no matter what the subject matter was or what medium I used. The element that links many of my pieces together are the eyes. The animals and people I paint all have the same style of eyes. They all have a half-asleep, disinterested expression. I get a good laugh out of each creature I create with that signature look, and I hope others do too.
KRL: How long have you been an artist?
Laura: I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. I have been a potter for about fifteen years and have been painting for about seven. I began being a full time artist around three years ago.
KRL: What first inspired you to become an artist?
Laura: I have always loved art but never really believed that I’d be able to make a career out of it. About seven years ago I read my first issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and was blown away by the amazing mixed media art people were making out of anything and everything. I started researching some of the artists from the magazine and saw that many of them had successful careers as artists, and I vowed that I was going to have one, too. I got laid off from my corporate job and was given $5000 to take classes to improve my job skills as part of my severance package. I decided to take the money and take all the art classes I could get my hands on at the local community college in Phoenix. The next job I got was with a ceramic supply manufacturer in Fresno, so I moved here, and my journey as an artist began.
KRL: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?
Laura: I love animals and critters of any kind, so most of what I make revolves around them. I am owned by three dogs and a cat, and they inspire me more than anything. They are always running around and trying to sit in my lap when I paint, so I figure I might as well use them as models.
KRL: Do you have a “day job” as well?
Laura: I have two, and I am fortunate that both of them also have to do with art. I recently started working at Allard’s Art supply in Fresno as a salesperson and workshop instructor. I also work as a contractor for Mayco, a ceramic glaze and bisque manufacturer. I get to travel around the country teaching people how to paint ceramics and representing the Mayco brand at different events.
KRL: What other careers have you held through the years?
Laura: Up until a few years ago I worked in Corporate America. I used to be the Buyer for Live Reptiles, Crickets, and Worms at the corporate office of a large pet supply chain (that’s a real conversation starter). I also have had held various positions in the grocery industry. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from Rutgers University in NJ, but then moved to Arizona after graduation where there’s no ocean so I ended up in the corporate world instead.
KRL: Where can people see and purchase your art?
Laura: I have an Etsy shop—thepeculiarpalette—plus my work can be found locally at Mixed Messages in Sanger, The Circle Gallery in Madera, and The Vintage Market at 601 in Fresno.
KRL: What do you love most about being an artist? What is the hardest part?
Laura: I love how therapeutic making art is. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day I am having…all I have to do is pick up a paintbrush or a lump of clay and start creating to instantly change my mood.
The hardest thing for me is sticking to a regular schedule. I am not very good at self motivation, and many times I procrastinate until the wee hours of the evening and then start working. If I had more discipline, I’d get up in the morning and get right to work.
KRL: Can you share any future goals you have for your art?
Laura: I would love to have my designs licensed and be made into merchandise that is sold in boutiques around the country.
KRL: Do you have any events or art shows coming up? Do you have any details about participating in the October event in Sanger?
Laura: I will be at the 18th Annual Artworks Fine Art and Craft Show on October 28 at the People’s Church 7172 N Cedar. I am also especially excited about a collaborative show I am doing with Kathleen Mattox in October called Bakers’ Dozens. We are each painting thirteen paintings of animals in our signature styles and will be displaying them for the month of October at Kathleen’s gallery, Mixed Messages, in Sanger. We are going to have two receptions, one on Sunday, October 1, from noon to 5 p.m. and the other on Friday, October 13 from 3-7 p.m. I love working with Kathleen because we both have very similar tastes in everything, including art. We have been getting together regularly to work on our paintings for the event, and we are having a blast. She inspires me so much.
KRL: Where can people find or follow you on social media?
Laura: Etsy shop: thepeculiarpalette.etsy.com
You can find more art & other entertainment articles, in our Arts & Entertainment section.