Mural in the Making – painting a story

Let me introduce you to extremely talented Canadian visual artist Kris Friesen.  Everybody has a story.  He can paint yours.

The header today is the finished mural at the Greek restaurant Koutouki in the 124 Street neighborhood of Edmonton. It depicts a colorful streetscape of busy life in restaurants and cafes in Athens.  By Kris Friesen.

I love painting split scenes that show wildlife above and below a water line. From left to right in this river mural are: a coyote, tiger salamander, Canadian toad, mallard ducks, silver redhorse, river shiner and beaver – Kris Friesen.
A smiling drummer in traditional African clothing performs in the foreground of this mural, celebrating the Kaleido festival in Edmonton – Kris Friesen.
This group portrait painting depicts four generations Canadian military service with five members of the Scott family, from the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War 1 to Combat Engineers in Afghanistan. Where the oldest generation did not meet the youngest, and a photograph would be impossible, all are painted shoulder to shoulder in this portrait – Kris Friesen.

I first met Kris about 15 years ago when my husband and I commissioned him to paint a wall on part of our outdoor courtyard after seeing his work on the outside of a gelato shop on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.

Jia Jia lying by the first mural flanked by real rocks, shells & wood flowers.  Photo: d. king

Our friend Jackie was anxious to take us to this new place for the best gelato in the city, but as good as it was we were more mesmerized by the lifelike Italian scene depicted on one whole side of the building.  The attention to detail was amazing. Actually, it was the best mural we’d seen to date and it got us thinking about how we could incorporate something personal to our own outdoor space.  So I got in touch with the shop owner who let Kris know we were interested.  Unfortunately the shop along with the mural is no longer there.

We had some ideas, Kris painted a story board and voila, our idea came to life.  A bit Santa Fe, a bit Wine Country and some water and mountains off to the distance.  And of course, an expanse of sky.  When we sat out there we felt like we had a special view of everything we like.  And it was after that that we wondered why on earth we hadn’t asked him to paint another wall.  We pondered that idea for several years.  Then we decided to move on it.

However by then Kris had unfortunately for us, moved to Edmonton and we dressed up the blank wall with a wall hanging and later on a mirror with plants in front.  We felt it needed something.   Fast forward to this past summer when I found Kris’s website and sent him an e-mail not even sure he’d remember me. Surprisingly he did.  By this time he had moved to Duncan, B.C. – at least it was a lot closer.  I told him my husband had passed away and that we had been talking for years about wanting to get him back to do some more art.  Luckily for me, Kris was Vancouver bound for several days just recently so we discussed the wall.  I thought Spring would be a perfect time to start however Kris was going traveling for a while and not sure exactly when he’d be back.  Since the weather was good and considering how well the other mural held up over the years, I decided to go ahead.

I wanted the older mural to be extended around the corner and a few other things added to the much smaller blank wall area; which would have not been in the original plan.

The work in progress:

Always start with a blank canvas
Draw it out for a rough draft
Get started.  Looks a bit sketchy.
Starting to take life
Just about finished.  I have to leave a little bit to the imagination.  There’s a few missing little details.  Group of photos: d. king

Mural Mural on the Wall – I’m very happy with the finished result.  He even put another protective coating on the first mural which had held up very well and re-painted a few things on the upstairs deck.  Oh yeah; he also painted some rocks, sagebrush, flowers, gekkos and butterflies on the upstairs deck.  Looks great.

Here’s a small sampling of his other diverse original works of art.  Kris not only paints murals. He started with that, however now he paints on canvas and panels mostly.

This painting of a Chinese flute player that has been called a fairy or spirit by some members of Edmonton’s Chinatown – Kris Friesen.
This Asian elephant moves forward into a stream of water while throwing up an airborne stream of dust. As much as I like the contrast between air and water my understanding of elephants suggests they might like it more, as their trunks can provide a unique medium between the two – Kris Friesen.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge saw Canadians advancing uphill against Germans defending their hardened positions. The mural depicts some of the terrible conditions Canadian troops would have experienced as they gutted out their rolling barrage. To emphasize the challenges soldiers faced I made the direction of the mural up and to the left, the most uneasy direction to look if viewed by a westerner, as we read left to right and downwards – Kris Friesen.
First Nations peoples utilized Alberta resources long before Europeans arrived, like this painting of a spring fishing camp, where walleye and pike are caught and prepared with stone tools at a northern stream. Fish that are not cooked or smoked are placed on wood racks to dry in the sun, while nearby two people seal a birch bark canoe with spruce pitch and bitumen – Kris Friesen.

Website:

http://krisfriesen.com/