Artist Lisa Frick, Marthasville, has a love for color that goes back to her childhood when she worked hard to keep her crayons inside the lines of her coloring books.
Today she doesn’t need lines to keep her colors straight. She has a steady hand and a keen eye.
Frick, who grew up in Washington and began her career in the 1980s making airbrushed T-shirts at her shop, Frick & Frack at the Lake of the Ozarks, has for the last seven years been creating custom hand-painted furniture pieces and accessories featuring whimsical designs made with circles, dots and lots of bright, complementary colors.
She works out of a home studio, a 900-square-foot space with windows on three sides overlooking her gardens and a lake, and sells her pieces almost entirely online. She has a shop on Etsy, www.etsy.com/shop/LisaFrick, and her own website, www.lisafrick.com.
“Color and Fun Meet Functional,” her website reads.
Frick has sold her work to people all over the country — New York, Chicago, along the West Coast, Texas . . . A candy store in Scarsdale, N.Y., bought one of Frick’s dining tables.
For most of her career, Frick sold her art in storefronts at the Lake of the Ozarks, where she moved after college. She had majored in art at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“It was always a big dream for me to have my own shop,” said Frick.
“It was kind of a hippie store,” she said, with a laugh, noting along with T-shirts, she sold items like candles and lava lamps.
Frick & Frack was popular and had a long run. When Frick closed the store in 2014, it had been open for 30 years.
The success of Frick & Frack led to two other shops — the Lisa Frick Gallery, where she showed her own fine art paintings, as well as pieces by other artists working in a variety of mediums, and Artsy Fartsy, which also featured American- and handmade art pieces.
Frick, who has that rare combination of artistic talent and strong business sense, remembers opening Artsy Fartsy as a way to better use some of the retail space she had inside Frick & Frack.
“One end of the building was always dead, and there were two entrances, so I was scratching my head. There was a natural beam through the building, so I put up a wall and opened Artsy Fartsy,” she said, noting the pieces were lower end than what she was selling in the gallery.
The Lisa Frick Gallery was open for about 13 years, and Artsy Fartsy was in business until 2014.
Style Inspired by Travels
Frick has done a lot of traveling over the years. Flags from the seven countries she has visited — Belize, Canada, Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, Mexico and Thailand — hang from the ceiling in her studio.
She likes to go caving and also serves as volunteer translator with the Washington Overseas Mission on its trips to provide medical and dental care to people in Honduras.
Sales of her artwork help support those volunteer mission trips to Honduras.
In her travels, Frick has amassed a collection of masks from Mexico, one done in the brightly colored Huichol style, as well as a collection of brightly colored Oaxacan animals from Southern Mexico.
All of her travels have influenced her art style, said Frick. “Plus, I’ve just always been really colorful,” she remarked.
Furniture Leads to Accessories, More
It was an old dresser that Frick wanted to put in her guest room that started her off painting furniture with fun patterns and bright colors.
She enjoyed the process so much and loved the look of the finished piece that she began doing more. As the pieces sold, she began looking for more ideas.
Her business sense inspired her to paint smaller items in the same style — rocks that can be used as paperweights, metal tins, lazy Susans and tiny art canvases.
“It’s a quick hit that people can get,” said Frick, admitting her furniture pieces may be “too bold” for some people to add to their decor.
And the rocks, tins and lazy susans offer more affordable and bite-size ways for people to enjoy her art. She is always thinking of new ways to sell and market her art, items that she can create at a variety of price points.
After another artist who had created a beautiful peacock rocking chair that went viral on the internet some time ago, Frick started thinking that she too should create “a showpiece” item like that.
“So I did a butterfly lazy Susan in a large size with more detail than I normally would do, and it sold immediately,” Frick said.
So now she’s working on a similar piece, a pedestal table with monarch butterflies and milkweed flowers.
Frick noted that for her furniture pieces, she prefers to work with new items that she finds through an online retailer with free shipping.
Old furniture pieces can have mystery finishes on them or require a lot of work to fix dents and dings.
She orders new items online, takes off any finish they have, then primes and paints them. She has a toolbox full of equipment in the corner of her studio to help her as she is taking pieces a part and putting them back together again.
Frick saves the packaging from when the piece was delivered to her so she can repackage it to ship to her customer.
‘This Is Like Recess’
Looking back over her career and the variety of art that she has done, Frick said this whimsical style she is doing today is successful and fun.
“I wouldn’t say it’s my masterpiece work. I think my paintings were more real . . . This is like recess,” Frick remarked.
She creates all of her designs freehand. She doesn’t use stencils or any sort of device. The color combinations are vibrant and playful.
“I will lay down the blue circle, and then the turquoise and then the green, just keep doing the concentric circles, and then I just try to use complementary colors and also with value contrast, light against the dark,” she said.
“I look at this table now and see something I would do differently. These two colors here, the turquoise against the purple. If you squint at it, they just go away. So I would do something totally different there now to make that turquoise circle pop more.”
After the design is complete, Frick finishes each furniture piece with about five coats of hardwood floor varnish to protect it. The furniture pieces are intended to be used — albeit, with care, she said.
Frick doesn’t have any secrets about the process that she uses to create her designs. In fact, she sells a painted furniture tutorial on her website explaining everything she does.
She isn’t worried about anyone copying her work, because they couldn’t even if they tried.
“They can’t copy my vision,” she said. “But I can give them an idea and maybe they can come up with something that’s creative in their own way, and why deprive somebody of that?”
Frick decided to create the tutorial because she was regularly getting questions from people several times a week. She includes her process, as well as the reasons why she doesn’t do some things and the reason she does do others.
The tutorial purchase comes with a one-month time frame to ask follow-up questions.
Frick does not offer classes on her style of painting furniture, although she has thought about it.
Frick’s new studio space that was finished last summer is like a night and day difference, literally, from her old workspace.
She previously worked in a corner of her walk-out basement with only a small window for light, but now the sun pours in through the windows on three sides.
A modern chandelier featuring spikes and curly spires by glass artist Ed Pennebaker hangs from the ceiling in the center of the studio. It’s a piece from the days of the Lisa Frick Gallery.
Large work tables were made from old lab carts taken out of a St. Louis area business during a remodel. She and her husband, Scott Hughes, added tabletops and wheels.
The exterior doors to the studio feature Frick’s dot pattern design in the panels, and out in the garden she has a set of her custom-painted totem poles.
Even Frick’s mailbox is an oversized box painted a bright turquoise with yellow numbers, featuring red dots and outlined in a grass green color and posted atop a curvy tree trunk. It looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.
Show November 18
Frick isn’t the type of artist to sell her work at shows, but she will have her work on display with stained-glass artist Linda Sutterer of Glass Compositions in Marthasville.
The show will be Saturday, Nov. 18, at Glass Compositions, 513 W. South St., in Marthasville. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Frick plans to have maybe one or two of her smaller furniture pieces at the sale, and people can place custom orders too. She also will have a number of her accessories and trinkets.