Carlene Frances, Non-Referentially Speaking
There is no such thing as painter’s block for Carlene Frances of Colorado. Simply applying paint to canvas is enough to get the creative juices flowing, which is nice because this lady has places to be with her various abstract series and eye-catching designs. “I develop a concept that gives me direction,” explains Frances. “It doesn’t have to be profound, say the Redness of Red for instance. I give myself parameters and/or boundaries supporting my concept which in turn gives me direction.” From her natural light filled home studio she works a full-time job as an artist; acquiring and preparing materials, marketing and paperwork, framing and shipping, communicating and planning. All that and Frances hasn’t even touched paint to canvas yet. When she is finally ready to work on an actual piece of art, Frances calms her mind and accepts what comes. With each stroke of her signature deep oils she glazes 15 to 30 layers, lacquering on each after the one before has dried. Though it may be time consuming, the luminous glow of this old-school technique gives her modern twists a rich, classical look.
For artists, the rewards are always greater than the costs which include not only time, energy and emotion, but money as well. To make a career and a living doing art is a bonus because production is never as simple as it seems. “There is a mythology surrounding about what it is to be an artist,” says Frances. “Many people buy into the myth that artists are temperamental, flaky, dark, unorganized, no business sense and ready to cut off their ear in an emotional rant. Often the public thinks that being an artist is fun and easy because you are doing what you are passionate about, and that is far from the truth,” she tells ArtBeat. “The act of creating is problem solving, it’s hard work and not always fun.” When asked by why she creates the art work she does Frances replies, “I have to paint, it’s my visual voice.”
She has exhibited professionally since 2000 and while she admires the color field work of painters like Mark Rothko (1903-1970), Cy Twombly (1928-2011) and the 17th century master Johannes Vermeer for his glazing technique and use of light, Frances does not wish to copy others or have viewers think that her work looks like someone else’s. “I actually try not to be too influenced by other painters so my work stays authentic,” she expresses. Frances holds formal education from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, studying under some well-known instructors including Martin Mendelsberg, current faculty of Metropolitan State University of Denver, artist Chuck Parson and RMCAD Head of Painting Program Clark Richert.
Frances is represented by two excellent galleries, the K Contemporary in Denver, 1412 Wazee Street, as well as Globe Fine Art in Santa Fe, NM. She is aware that having such representation is a blessing, since aspects like inventory, overhead and the pressure to sell your work can be so stressful. To accommodate the galleries, Frances has about three or four paintings in rotation to account for the drying times. Each piece can take at least two months to complete and she maxes out her annual output at 30.
Given her impressive longevity in the art field ArtBeat asked her advice to help up and coming artists. “Stay the course and be patient, a contact today can turn into work years from now. Develop a stock pile of your art so if you are offered a show you have more than a few items to hang. Also, presentation is important. Make sure your work is well-crafted, no warped or flimsy canvases,” she says. Be business minded and stay abreast of changes so you can tweak your business model, counsels Frances. Media, social or otherwise, is your friend.
Her most recent series called Seijaku – Japanese meaning serenity in the midst of activity – represents the journey to order, simplicity and calmness in today’s technology filled world. She successfully was selected for the 46th International Juried Art Show this month at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art running until May 26. Dinner and awards reception April 25, 6-8 pm with tickets on sale now, artists reception the following evening. Later this summer, opening ceremonies August 4 for her solo exhibit at K Contemporary.
Plenty of details available online for both events. ArtBeat Magazine thanks Ms. Frances for her time and wishes her luck in her exhibits.