Seeking patterns, crafting mantras
March 21, 2019
Pay attention to the city’s art scene, from colossal alleyway murals to farmer’s market popups, and you’ll notice Fritz Studio making a frequent apperance.
The artist behind the prolific studio, Nancy Fritz, became interested in drawing at a young age and started creating in elementary school. She was attracted to what was around her at that age, cartoon characters and movies meant for children.
From there, her creativity and talents grew in strength and laid a foundation for her current focus.
Inspired by Animation
“Animated characters are what caught my main attention,” Fritz said in an interview with Whatzup. “In my first sketchbook, I loved to draw Disney characters from my Little Golden books and VHS covers.
“As time went on, I started copying characters from my brother’s Marvel comics card collection. In between the comic characters, I liked to draw shapes and patterns. Looking back, the shapes and patterns were probably why I have a draw toward mandalas. The patterns tended to shape emerging from a central point, kind of like kaleidoscope patterns.”
Fritz was not always as focused on her art and putting out content as she is now. Though she still maintains her part-time job as an e-learning specialist, she made the plunge three years ago to build a business out of not only her passion, but herself.
“About three years ago, after spending four years working at a financial institution, I finally made the push to work as an artist and treat it like a business,” she said. “The transition to pursing art was difficult but felt great at the same time. There was a lot I did not, and still do not, know about the business side of being a working artist.”
Being a great artist is no guarantee that you can make money with your art.
“In school, they teach you all about how to create the work, but not how to run a business,” she said. “Figuring out things like accounting, taxes, and marketing was a lot to take in. Fortunately, I had some great people in the community that I was able to talk to for advice like Kizmet Byrd, Julie Walls, and Dan Swartz.
“Having stable finances definitely helps me with my art. It gives me the luxury of time to contemplate my work rather than push out large amounts of work just to pay the bills. Though I do think it has a bit of the opposite effect, too, in that it holds me back from giving my all to the artwork and pushing to really get out into the world with my work.”
Mandalas and Mantras
While off the clock and in the studio, Fritz creates mandalas in droves and assigns a mantra to each piece. This serves as a guiding light and a way to stay creative while working within a specific parameter, even if that parameter is just a suggestion of a destination.
Fritz uses the adage, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” and lets it drive her output.
“My process generally starts with a mantra in mind,” she said. “Then comes contemplation on whether to incorporate the script into the painting or use imagery to convey the concept of the mantra. Usually, I lean towards using the script within the images of a mandala and lotuses.
“Once I have a general idea, I draw the basic layout onto canvas and place a base layer of paint on. Then I add the mantra on top of the base layer. Sometimes I leave the words clear to read and other times I start layering the words over and over. The process of layering the words is like saying or meditating on the mantra over and over again. To me, this is a very meditative and therapeutic process. Sometimes, those mantras turn into lines that trace the script until you can no longer see the words.”
When you look at these mandalas, or in this case a mandala-adjacent design like “The Thousands,” you can clearly see the writing over the entirety of the piece.
But what you can’t see clearly is what it says. It’s been covered and stylized and added upon to create something entirely modern. It’s simple yet grows in complexity the longer you have a chance to observe.
“My favorite design to create is my lotus mandalas,” Fritz said. “It is a combination of the geometric and the organic.
“Many of my mandalas are based on the general shapes seen in traditional Tibetan mandalas. There are base geometric shapes of the circle and square with the four gates which gives me the stable foundation to grow the lotus around. I don’t find it difficult to keep my personal style with each of these pieces. As it changes over time, I feel like it is part of the process.”
Finding the calm in the chaos
Though Fritz is drawn to the mandala, it does not define her. A visit to the galleries on FrtizStudioFW.com will initially give you a series on mandalas, but you will also find beautiful still lifes of flowers, chaotically exquisite squiggling lines that create a mass of texture and bedlam, and the aforementioned geometric inclusions like “Geometric Lotus,” which combines multiple strong suits of Fritz into one bold and vivid piece.
“The lotus is something you see in almost all of my work,” Fritz said. “A personal favorite mantra is, ‘Live like a lotus, at ease in the muddy water,’ which is from an unknown source. To me, it’s a reminder to find the calm in the chaos of thought.
“My personal goal as an artist is to help others find peace through my work, even if it is only for a moment. I am proudest of my work when it’s able to bring peace and calm to others. It makes my heart happy when others say looking at my work gives them that one moment of calm in their chaotic day that they needed.”
You can find Nancy Fritz’s work at FritzStudioFW.com and on Instagram and Facebook at @FritzStudioFW.