Monday, April 11, 2011

How do you share what you do as a painter?

Beware - if you continue to read this post it may change your life.  I'm not kidding.

First a little explanation about how I came to find and post this totally amazing video about Rose Frantzen talking at the Smithsonian Museum about Portrait of Maquoketa  - her project to paint the residents of the town in Iowa where she lives.

Rose Frantzen talking about Portrait of Maquoketa at the Snithsonian Museum

Bill Sharp (Bill Sharp - paintings) made a very astute comment on one of my posts recently.  This is part of it.
one thing that should be acknowledged here is that creating a body of work that is clearly your own is, in my opinion, much much more difficult than painting well.
So very true. 

As always when I get an intelligent comment I rush off to the blog of the person making the comment to find out more about you.  If you're saying sensible things my experience suggests that the chances are that what you're painting is also going to be interesting - and so it was with Bill.

That then means that I am of course going to start looking at more of your posts and what you have to say on them - which is what I did with Bill's blog and that is how I came to find his post about Rose Frantzen

Most times if you're introducing a video it helps if you make it snappy and succinct to get the engagement.  This is what Bill said.  I absolute endorse everything he says.
This is a lengthy but brilliant talk by Rose Frantzen at her show at the National Portrait Gallery about how she conceived and executed the project of painting portraits of the people who live in her town. Great insights into her process and painting. She talks about everything from how the ideas came together for the project to grant writing, technique and the personal experience of carrying out the project.
My excuse for this long post is I wanted to highlight Bill as well!

Roz Stendahl (Roz Would Up) actually got there first with a post in October last year which I missed .  This is her post Democratizing Portrait Painting: Artist Rose Frantzen.  Again, I couldn't agree more with what Roz says.....
Her work is exquisite. Her comments about the process and progress, costs, her painting surface, how she chose the surface and prepped it, the change in working with non-professional models, how people were willing to try something new, how she found out more about life…it's all really inspiring. Spend the 57 minutes and watch this video—see what happens when you let things go out of control and how art can make a difference in the world.
The other reason I'm highlighting this video of Roze Frantzen is because it is comparatively rare to see an artist talking in an animated and articulate way about art and how they paint and what motivates them and how they get a project together.

It takes her a little while to organise her thoughts and get going at the beginning but this woman will move you.  She will engage you.  Plus you will learn such a lot.  I cannot see how those who listen to her will not be changed forever.

Now this is not a quickie and you are going to need an hour to watch/listen this video which is Rose's gallery talk given at the exhibition on April 24, 2010 at The National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC

The reality is because it is a "talking head" video you can actually listen to it while doing other stuff so long as you're not needing to focus too much on the other stuff - I listened to it while beginning to draft this post.  It's probably appropriate to note I'd started making notes within 5 minutes of it starting and was writing within 10!

However if you watch it you get to see some wonderful close ups of the portraits she has painted.

The film is about Rose's yearlong community-oriented project called “Portrait of Maquoketa” in which she painted 180 portraits of any resident of her home town of Maquoketa who was willing to sit for a four or five hour session.  The tale of how she got it down from painting everybody in town to 180 is highly entertaining!

Her project was funded by a grant from the Iowa Arts Council a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The project formed part of the Portraiture Now: Communities exhibition about the project in which all 180 portraits were hung, at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. from November 6, 2009 to July 5, 2010.

Hear some of the voices of Maquoketa.
Rose’s work has been featured in US Art, ArtTalk, Southwest Art, Workshop, International Artist, American Artist, and Portrait Signature, and she has demonstrated as a faculty member for the Portrait Society of America .  She is represented exclusively by Old City Hall Gallery, where she shows with her husband, Charles Morris.

She also teaches painting portrait workshops in her home town.  One of the aspects I know from taking workshops is that the impact they have on you is directly related to just how well that artist articulates their principles and thoughts and not just how well they paint - although her alla prima painting is remarkably good too.  (Richard Schmid is her mentor.

This is a review Alla Prima Portrait Workshop with Rose Frantzen by Chuck H (Jack of Arts) of one of her painting workshops - and he highly recommends her too.

Having watched this video I guarantee you will learn a lot from an artist like Rose.  I'd love to take a workshop with this woman - she is just so informative and energising and uplifting.

She is also doing a portrait demo at the 13th Annual Conference of the Portrait Society of America in Atlanta, GA being held April 28 - May 1, 2011 - and I really wish I was able to go!

Do also explore her website.  This woman is a seriously good painter of portraits, figurative, still life and landscapes.  I think Rose is an artist of note who you will hear more about.

(PS I'm away at the moment and this deserves to be up for a while so I've been saving it specially!  Back later in the week.)


  1. thanks Katherine!! just watched/listened to it while doing some filing and yes, totally inspirational!

  2. I learned about Rose Frantzen about a year ago and have seen this video previously. I think I stumbled across her work through some other artists such as Jeremy Lipking and Alexei Steele. She is inspiring and her work seems almost effortless at times.

    And this project goes to prove that grants can be obtained if you have a sound idea and can follow through on it.

  3. Thank you Katherine. Very interesting and inspiring.

  4. It seems my last comment was swallowed by the ether... This was brilliant, inspiring and well worth the watch.

    There were many "Yes!!" moments in it for me. I paint abandoned farm houses (mainly interiors) in my local area comprising of a few small towns, some little more than ghost towns. My curiosity and my background in history made it not enough to paint them, but, discover their stories. Getting permission to go inside them helped me to meet an amazing community of people in their 80's and 90's. They shared their stories and their experiences in what was often old family homes or businesses and I ended up with a wonderful collection of folklore, not in the history books to go along with the paintings. The stories and the paintings belong to the community. I paint them as they are, the stories tell of what they were.

    I related to Rose's story about her community. Last week a part of our main street was gutted by fire and that changes a place.

    The best art in any medium comes through us, not from us. Thanks for sharing this, Katherine!

  5. thanks for bringing this was a great experiance seeing and listening to it.

  6. Wonderfully inspirational artist --thanks for the post and the the video clip.

  7. First things, Katherine, thanks for posting this!
    I had to watch it, because I don't joke with your reccomendations. But nevertheless, I only knew about how strongly you reccomended watching it, until I had actually finished watching it.
    Sometimes I have to admit, I sleep off while watching art-videos because, even though the artist is painting really great pieces-their enthusiasm and body language doesn't keep me enraptured for long. But this lady is a dynamite-I listened almost with invisible tears-because she actually brought out emotions and feelings I have all blowing inside of me. I'll love to get my hands on anything she produces and also her workshops...someday...I'm dreaming.
    I really enjoyed this and it has changed me. Serious! I went to my son's Primary School and volunteered to do art demonstrations for the whole day for each class and after it-I must agree- Art can affect people's lives. I ended up with loads of the most touching letters from these children. Children can break your heart!
    So what Rose has done and what you do on a constant basis- is powerful!
    God bless you!

  8. Wow what an amazing video! Thanks so much for sharing it Katherine! It is one I can come back to again and again. Rose's energy and love of people, life and painting is so evident and wonderful. The fact that the actual experience of opening herself to others trumped the action of painting was the best part. Loved her website and I agree a workshop with Rose would be heaven! Thanks for another excellent post.

  9. Hi Katherine, I always read your posts when they come to my inbox - and it is past time to really say thank you! I so enjoyed the video about Rose Frantzen - a gem - and something I would never have encountered without your post. Thank you! Katy

  10. Kathryn,
    Thank you for this post and introducing me to the video of Rose! What a refreshing personality. She had many, many wonderful points to list.
    I got to see this show at the Gallery and it was truly exquisite.
    I love her spirit and enthusiasm and I am certain these people loved the moments spent with her. In fact, the eyes of the portraits say so.

  11. Katherine, Forgive me, as I think I spelled your name wrong in the previous post!

  12. wow. Talk about an engaging woman. Thanks for pointing me to the video. I read about her in a magazine once. This video is really impressive. She is engaging, interesting, passionate and a thorougly social creature (perhaps rare amongst artists). I loved her humour and the chaotic but totally understandable way she explains how it all happened. On top of that the paintings are beautiful. Makes me think about my own work....
    fab stuff. Off to find if I can buy the book somewhere even if its only to remind myself of this talk.

  13. I have just had a chance to watch Rose talking about her work. Not only are her portraits so very good but the empathy she showed to her subjects is a lesson for anyone painting portraits-truly inspirational. Thank you for posting this link.


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