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Bringing Memories to Life

The Alternative Folk | Alex Friesen | Grimshaw, AB

Alex Friesen, 28, is a homemaker, mom, wife, nighttime painter and the creator behind The Alternative Folk.

As a creative person, Friesen finds herself exploring varied hobbies and interests to express herself. After many years of trying different modalities, she unexpectedly found that painting is her true calling.

“I was given an old set of artist grade watercolours from my grandma one day, and it was my first experience with real supplies,” said Friesen. “It honestly changed my life. I find painting is incredibly healing.”

Once comfortable with her new skills and supplies, Friesen started gifting her artwork to family and friends. The way it made her feel, combined with loads of positive feedback, inspired her to take things to the next level.

“I started painting for others in 2018, and in 2020 I decided to start The Alternative Folk and began posting behind the scenes videos online,” said Friesen.

Friesen enjoys painting meaningful images. Upon request, she has often brought old buildings, farms and livestock to life through watercolour.

“I love hearing the stories behind the custom requests I receive,” said Friesen. “I appreciate doing nostalgic pieces. All my work has a yesteryear vibe to it, and it usually reminds me of my childhood.”

Friesen approaches custom orders very carefully and is very selective of the projects she agrees to. According to Friesen, often people have specific ideas in mind or are looking for large art pieces, but she says her style leans toward smaller dimension pieces and a “certain look.”

“I can’t always control what comes out; my style is what it is. Usually, people know what I offer, and it’s either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’” said Friesen.

For those interested in commissioning Friesen to create a custom piece, the process goes as follows. Friesen listens to the request and inquires about the intentions and meaning behind the order. If the request fits her style, Friesen asks for reference photos, creates a rough sketch and sends it to the client with a quote.

“I pour my heart and soul into every piece I create,” said Friesen. “The process can take quite a while, ranging from a couple of weeks to a month, but I always discuss timelines with clients beforehand.”

If a customer needs a rush order, Friesen does her best to accommodate, but she says it’s best to reach out in advance.

“Booking a painting is always better when it’s done earlier, especially if I have a few on the go,” said Friesen.

Finding a rhythm in her business is a priority, so Friesen looks forward to doing more commissions as well as having her art available for sale throughout the Peace Region.

“My goal is to do more sentimental work,” said Friesen. “I love to do home portraits with a story, paint houses that people grew up in, recreate grandparents’ farms or places clients loved as a child.”

With Christmas quickly approaching, Friesen hopes people will want to purchase her art to gift, or just to have. Though on maternity leave, Friesen planned ahead. She has many of her prints available in Grimshaw at The Krooked House and Raediance Florist and Gift Shop. In Fairview, she has prints at The Old Bistro.

“Since I’m welcoming a new baby soon, I won’t be shipping prints or doing custom work for a while,” said Friesen. “But, I’m looking forward to resuming everything in the new year, and people can stay up to date by following my Instagram page and website.”

For those interested in pursuing a creative passion, Friesen recommends listening to podcasts related to their interests, taking free courses, finding valuable resources and subscriptions and asking for supplies as gifts during the holidays.

Alternatively, Friesen says another way to find out if a creative outlet is right for you is by throwing yourself into a challenge. She did one over two seasons of Lent. She sketched everyday and posted it online for accountability.

“That challenge pushed me out of my comfort zone, led me to find an amazing art community, and it ultimately helped me grow my skills,” said Friesen. “Sometimes the things that seem crazy have the biggest rewards.”

By Dani Wearden | Photography by Tyrell Parenteau and submitted

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