State College garage artist explores world of abstract expressionism

Video posted December 10, 2012 in News by Alyse Horn



For one State College artist, inspiration is found in an 8 O’clock Coffee cup filled with whiskey and soda.

John Frizzelle, who puts his paintings in the category of abstract expressionism, has been living in town for about three years. For two of those years, a garage on the west side of Calder Alley is where he called home.

Frizzelle transformed the garage into a livable space where he could work on his paintings.

Fumes from spray paint cans waft through the garage and into his lungs, but while working Frizzelle doesn’t seem to notice or mind. When he paints, Frizzelle says he turns on the channels in his brain that is usually off during the day. He explained that it is like a meditation, and he is unlocking the parts of his subconscious.

After finishing a painting, Frizzelle said that he sometimes looks at his work and says to himself, “I wish I could paint like that.” Then he comes to grasp that it was him controlling the brush strokes. Frizzelle enters such a deep unconscious state that he doesn’t even realize he is painting. The finished product is truly his subconscious splattered onto the wood that he uses as canvas.

In the beginning, he said it took him about six to eight hours to finish a painting, or sometimes over two days. After a year, he thought he was “cheating” in some way because he was producing his work so quickly. He blamed this on second-guessing himself, which has worked against him all his life.

Frizzelle moved to State College with his girlfriend who got a job at Penn State as a professor. Before moving to town, he lived in Philadelphia for 10 years of his life, spending a year and a half studying at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. His time at the academy fine-tuned his talent for his first love, comic book writing.

Frizzelle published seven copies of his comic books, with the eighth being available via Internet. But when Frizzelle said he published his comics, he literally meant he did it himself. He bought a printer and would copy every page and staple them together for sale. He made everything on his own, including the box that housed his collection.

His comics were sold in some of the biggest comic shops in Philadelphia and New York, but upon moving to State College he decided to try a different field.

He has, and continues, to struggle through life in pursuit of his one true happiness: art.


The love for comics


When Frizzelle was comic book writing, his main focus was on his daily life experiences. Many of them had to do with his ex-girlfriends and involved examining himself and his soul. Each comic was completely produced by Frizzelle.