AMY J. BARRY, Special to the Day
Everyone who knows Judy Friday agrees: you never know what's next.
Even Friday agrees that she's never sure what will stir her creative juices. But one thing is certain: it will be new, challenging and very colorful.
This time around, she's expanded into weaving fabric, and her new show, "Intertwined," opens April 19 at the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme. On view are more than 20 new works in oil, pastel and textiles, which will be displayed on both the walls and floors.
"Judy's energy and creativity is endless," says Jeff Cooley, gallery owner. "She's now doing beautiful weavings that are translated into her paintings and pastels."
Cooley says of Friday's newest abstract expressionist work, "I love the visceral, spontaneous, immediate aspects-the colors, shapes, linear quality."
The idea of outside forces coming together - being intertwined - for a new purpose or identity, is a recurring theme for Friday, who has been painting steadily for 25 years, since she and her husband moved to Lyme and she began studying at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (1987-1993).
Although Friday continues to paint representational landscapes, she now also paints abstracted landscapes, as well as purely abstract art.
She cites her recent "Cloud" series, painted over several years, as the beginning of her more abstract, intuitive work.
"I always wanted to do abstract painting," she says. "I loved Joan Mitchell's work-her color and sense of freedom. And I wanted to get more free, and to paint bigger."
After completing paper weavings a few years ago, Friday decided to try her hand at weaving fabric, or rag weaving. She bought a loom and is taking classes at Wesleyan Potters in Middletown.
Friday says she became very frustrated while waiting for her loom to arrive, so she started to do pastels of weavings, several of which are in the show.
"Pastel is completely new for me. I like the immediacy," she says. "I can layer it without letting the layers dry, like oil. I can go over it right away. I'm a very impatient person, so it suits me."
On the other hand, she says the process of weaving slows her down.
"First I have to warp the loom, which takes half a day, buy the fabric, cut it into strips, and wash and dry it, so it shrinks before I use it. Then I cut it into one-inch strips, piece it together in long strands, and finally, I get to weave."
But what draws Friday to weaving with fabric is what draws her to painting: the element of surprise.
"I let the colors run into each other, like painting," she says. "I don't know what's going to happen. When you weave the fabric, it looks completely different from when you bought it, which is the fun of rag weaving versus 'straight' weaving with wool."
Friday hasn't abandoned one genre of art for another. She continues to paint in many styles and mediums because after starting a painting, "I look at it and sees what it needs," she says. "Whatever happens happens. I have no (preconceived) notions about it."
She still loves to go outside in the early morning and paint the sky above the water, as she did during her "Cloud" series.
"You never know what you're going to get in the sky. That's what's fun," she notes.
She works from 5:30 a.m. until noon every day because she's more inspired in the early hours than in the middle of the day.
But she doesn't think of what she does as work.
"I have to paint or go crazy," she says. "It's not work, it's pleasure. It's a drug."
Friday is looking forward to the opening of the show.
"The best thing about having a show is getting to see all of the work in one room, out of the studio," she says. "It looks different."
Yet another element of surprise that Friday eagerly anticipates.