ABOUT BEARING FRUIT + HOW TO ENJOY ART DURING LOCKDOWN

If you want to enjoy art from home during lockdown you can now re-visit my online exhibit ‘Bearing fruit in Catalonia’. It was live on my homepage from 1/10 until 31/12. But to keep it available I have decided to make it into a blog post. So you can enjoy it during the current lockdown.

Bearing fruit in Catalonia

Artist: The Fran

This exhibition was live from 1/10/2020 until 31/12/2020

Drawings and paintings featured in this online exhibition are all available for purchase. Please contact me if you wish to know more.

Welcome to Bearing fruit in Catalonia:

Bearing fruit in Catalonia

bearing fruit in catalonia - art drying in the studio during my art residency in el turros
bearing fruit in catalonia - the fran in her art studio
ARTIST RESIDENCY

In July 2019 I enjoyed a artist residency near Gerona, Catalonia. I stayed at an old hacienda on the slope of a green hill and worked in a old but spacious outside shed. I brought all of my art supplies: ink, markers, oil, paper and large canvasses. But I didn’t brought a plan. I wanted my work to emerge out of me being there, connecting with the land and the environment.

bearing fruit in catalonia - fig drawing by the fran visual artist 2019

During one of the very scary walks downhill (I can’t see depth because of a ‘lazy’ eye) towards the village I found an apricot on the path. And I was like: what is this perfectly fine apricot doing on the ground? There was only one explanation possible: there had to be a tree. And there was. I was in awe! Apricots are one of my very favourite summer fruits but the ones in the supermarkets back home in The Netherlands are often very mushy or grainy. This one was fresh and sweet and smooth. And still it had been laying on the ground!

That’s when I started drawing:

bearing fruit in catalonia - cherry drawing by the fran visual artist 2019
DRAWN TO FRUIT

The first results were large fruit drawings exploring the different Mediterranean fruits. I wanted them to be the center of attention. I was so drawn to them it was like they had their own gravitational pull. In the end some of them indeed ended up in space:

After those drawings I immediately started painting them on large canvasses. I worked simultaneously on all nine and mixed very large amounts of every colour I intended to use.

The results from three weeks of painting:

bearing fruit in catalonia - art studio during art residency
LAST WEEK IN INK

The last week of my artist residency I couldn’t proceed on working on my large fruits. I had already stretched my possibilities by mixing my oils with white spirit to enhance the drying time to keep working on them for as long as I could. But the last week I had to let them be so they could dry. That’s when I started drawing again. This time with black ink. Processing all the street scenes and plants and trees in the wild I soaked in during those three weeks:

bearing fruit in catalonia - the fran in barcelona 2019
BARCELONA X THE FRAN

The last weekend of my stay I decided to visit Barcelona and the Picasso Museum. During that visit I became enthralled with Picasso’s apparent drive to not rest before he had explored every angle of his subject. That’s when I revisited my fruit drawings and started redoing them in ink:

bearing fruit in catalonia - lemon ink drawing by the fran visual artist 2019

Back home I reckoned it wasn’t only art I brought back with me. I felt a difference in my artistic approach as well. I explore different perspectives, aim to understand my subjects on a more abstract level and from time to time I intentionally let them go to be able to come back to them again. Like I did last summer by revisiting the street scene and plant ink drawings from 2019 and turning them into colourful oil pastel drawings:

REVISITING THE LARGE FRUITS IN THE SUMMER OF 2020:

In these two art talks I tell you about how I had to let these paintings go in the autumn of 2019 (because I hated them that much!). And about revisiting them in the summer of 2020 and making them mine again.

So it just goes to show: to be able to bear fruit you may just have to let go of your creations once in a while. Let them live a life of their own, let them grow on you (or not) and to develop the courage to kill (or alter) your darlings.

Thank you for visiting my online exhibition Bearing fruit in Catalonia.

If you would like to share your thoughts on these works, I would love to hear from you.

For more information about the this series you can read and watch more:

LOCKDOWN ART: HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF IT AS AN ARTIST

Lockdown. Not the happiest of times for many of us artists. Cancelled art shows, closed down galleries, feeling blue or stressed out because of everything that is going on. No, lockdown doesn’t seem like the most inspirational of times when it comes to art. But! For me it has proved to be a very productive time. With little to no distractions I have been able to make several new art series during the first and second lockdown.

lockdown art in my studio the fran visual artist 2020

WHY LOCKDOWN WAS A FLY BY FOR ME

I must admit: I am an introvert at heart. So being alone and being at home really wasn’t a struggle for me at all. So I had that going for me. Also: I was able to access my studio during both lockdowns. I am a total loser when it comes to making art at home. Something with having too many distractions like the laundry waiting to be done or the kitchen waiting to be cleaned…) So having access to my studio turned out to be a life savor. Or art savor.

THE ART I MADE DURING LOCKDOWN

As I said: I made several new series of art during the two lockdowns. I’ve listed them below with the correct links for you to check them out. Some of them aren’t online yet, because when I am in an art making spree I tend to neglect my website…

lockdown art in my studio the fran visual artist 2020

LOCKDOWN ART: COSY CORNERS

Let me just highlight one of the art series I made during lockdown: my Cosy Corners.

I started working on these Cosy corners during the second COVID lockdown. It had just turned autumn in The Netherlands and I wanted to express my love for the new season. Also, I wanted to share my introvert view on lockdown. When being alone isn’t a struggle but a bliss and you are able to spend time surrounded by your plants or enjoy making some homegrown jam, lockdown isn’t very hard. It rather is a time for reflection. For enjoying everything that is still possible to do. And to give a little extra attention to the things at home you like to do best. Reading, planning the allotment for next year, making new art, watching a movie, taking a walk, preserving veggies.

So in essence these drawings are my introverted view on lockdown. They are not meant to sugar coat anything. Because I know very well how devastating the pandemic has been and still is for many of us. I merely thought there also ought to be an introverted take on things. Especially because I have experienced it way more popular to complain about not being able to do things and meet up with people. But when I replied to messages of support or questions about how am I coping, with: ‘I am doing great tbh, because I love the peace and quiet and I allow myself to be the recluse I actually always long to be’. Every single person replied with: ‘you know, so do I actually.’

So these Cosy Corners are also a celebration of introverts wherever they are. And whether they are ready to come out as such or not. I am an introvert and I am proud to be one!

WHAT TO EXPECT?

The current times are unpredictable so I am not sure what to expect art-wise. But I can say that I have definitively found my mojo when it comes to collages and mixed media artworks. So I think I can promise much more of that kind of works to come very soon. From January the 1rst I will be sharing new botanical collages on my Instagram account @art.bythefran . So if you would like to see daily updates be sure to follow me there.

For now I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2021. With art, friends, group immunity and vaccines! Stay safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

EXPANDING PORTFOLIO: MY NEW ART ONLINE

New art online alert! Because of my new art studio my portfolio is expanding rapidly. The last couple of months I wasn’t always able to keep up with my output. But last week I locked myself in a room with my laptop and vowed not to come out until my portfolio was up to date. And behold! I did it!

Check it out here.

AN EVER EXPANDING PORTFOLIO

Because of my new art studio and all the new possibilities to experiment with my portfolio grew substantially over the last couple of months. A series of new ink drawings. A series of small oil paintings on canvas boards. Two series of mixed media collages. A whole new project around wooden sculptures, lino prints and abstract paintings. A huge panorama painting with matching smaller studies on paper. And as we speak I am working on two emerging series of oil pastel drawings on paper. One with a seasonal theme and one with a ‘cosy corners’ theme.

So it was a lot. And since it’s still only me behind the scenes I couldn’t keep up with myself online – except for my Instagram account of course.

expanding portfolio: new art by the fran online
New online
expanding portfolio: new art by the fran online
Also new online

NEW SERIES OF ART ONLINE

So, what new art can you now enjoy online:

UNLOCKING MY EXPANDING PORTFOLIO

While working on expanding my online portfolio I also decided to give it an update. I have chosen to show highlights of every series in my portfolio. That way I hope it stays interesting to look at all those pieces of art. At the same time it gives you the opportunity to see my work evolve.

I have structured my portfolio chronologically. There are links to more information and more pictures after every highlighted series. And of course there is a contact button for if you’d like to know more or if you are interested in buying one or more works.

expanding portfolio: new art by the fran online
Season studies: new online
coming soon: cosy corners drawings by the fran visual artist 2020
Cosy corners drawings, coming soon

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on my expanding portfolio and on my work. I read in Navigating the Art World that as an early day artist you should avoid praise. Because it tells you exactly nothing. While I completely agree with that, that is the only thing you will ever get on social media. Nobody will ever tell you they hate your work for whatever reason. Or that it just isn’t good enough. Doesn’t move them. Or doesn’t do anything for them.

So I want to challenge you: please name ONE THING that you hate about my art in the comments. Or a thing that you feel really is missing. Or that you dislike. It would be so interesting for me and it would be the greatest feedback. It would be so much better than all those mindless likes. And mind you: I am not accusing my followers of being mindless. I am accusing social media itself as being completely mindless. That’s how it’s designed. So the people using it will have to work VERY hard not to become mindless themselves. ‘Nuff said! Would love to hear what you think!

NEW ART IDEAS TO EXPERIMENT WITH

Autumn has really kicked in here in The Netherlands and that’s always the moment I get all these new art ideas to experiment with! In the short video below I tell you about them and I show you all my new sketches:

New art ideas to experiment with!

CURRENTLY WORKING ON: COLOUR STUDIES

I am currently working on my extra small colour studies in oil pastel. I started them because I really liked experimenting with this new medium. And because I wanted to try out different colour schemes in a low profile way. By cutting up old oil paintings on paper I created A5 sized ‘primed’ oil pastel paper to work on. My approach is to make four different colour studies of one composition. The compositions I’ve made are inspired by my trip to Morocco in 2016 and the film The Best Exotic Marigold hotel.

Another idea behind these extra small colour studies was that I could find out what colours I use all the time and what colours I use rarely. The reason I wanted to find out was because I knew I want to switch to more expensive oil pastels in the future. And by finding out what colours suit me I can buy them more mindfully.

But while I was working on these small studies new art ideas crept into my mind. I wanted to work on larger works again! Let me tell you: that’s the best feeling ever!

new art ideas extra small colour studies by the fran visual artist
Small colour studies
new art ideas extra small colour studies by the fran visual artist
Oil pastels on primed paper, A5
new art ideas extra small colour studies by the fran visual artist
One composition in different colour schemes

NEW ART IDEAS: SHETLAND PAINTINGS

The first new art idea came to me while watching Shetland, the BBC television series about D.I. Jimmy Perez on Shetland. I was totally enthralled by it (‘by him’ should be a statement a little closer to the truth, but hey, I am running an art business here, not an online dating website…). The seascapes, rock formations, island views from the sea. All those views were just breathtakingly beautiful.

And even though I am not a very big fan of great landscape or seascape paintings (…. work being the exception) I wanted nothing more than to paint them. So I started sketching while watching and I came up with a couple of ideas.

You can see the sketches in the video!

NEW ART IDEAS: ‘COSY CORNERS’

This idea actually isn’t as new as the other ones. I have been dreaming of painting ‘cosy corners’ since the worldwide pandemic. Maybe because we were forced to stay home, maybe because I wanted to show my love for those places in my own home. Sitting next to a window, underneath a large plant, watching the weather and the trees outside is my kind of happiness.

But back in March I didn’t think it original enough. I am always influenced by Henri Matisse, but this idea felt like straight from his mind or something. But it’s September now and the idea is still creeping back into my head every week. So I decided to surrender. Cosy corners, here I come!

Some base layers in oil
A3 sized backgrounds
Oil paint thinned with white spirit

NEW ART IDEAS: KITCHEN CORNERS WITH FOOD

Another idea, closely linked to those cosy corners is my wish to paint a series of kitchen corners with food. I have always had a fetish for food (I once had a food blog for about 3 years). I really love good food photography. So when I started scrolling through the old pictures I took for my food blog I was like: this is a goldmine!

So this is also definitely happening: a series of kitchen corners with cabinets, kitchen tables, jars with marmalade, home made lemonade and piles of pancakes! Can’t wait to paint these!

The first fifteen backgrounds on my studio floor. I’ve made 12 more since then but I don’t have any pictures yet.

AND NOW WHAT?

It’s been a while since I had this many ideas for new paintings! So I got a little bit confused about how to act… Bob said: just go with the flow. Work on all those ideas at once and let the work guide you. There is no deadline, there are no expectations. Just immerse yourself and enjoy it. Good advice. To be continued!

FOLLOW MY PROGRESS

In the meantime you can follow my progress on Instagram @art.bythefran or on my YouTube Channel The Fran Zone.

OIL PASTELS EXPERIMENTS

The past few days I have been experimenting with oil pastels. I saw some super inspirational oil pastel artworks by other artists and wanted to give it a try. Conclusion: I love it! It’s textured, it’s a lot of pigment and you can work very quickly!

After finishing my Tucson series in oil I still had a full palette with mixed paint. So I decided to make some quick base layers inspired on my Gerona and Spanish botanical drawings.

Then I visited Van Beek Art Supplies and took an hour to pick all the different colours of oil pastels that I needed (wanted 🙂 ).

shopping oil pastels at van beek art supplies in eindhoven summer 2020 the fran visual artist
van gogh oil pastels at van beek art supplies in eindhoven the fran visual artist 2020

WHAT ARE OIL PASTELS?

Oil pastels are very similar to wax crayon (they are also called wax oil crayons). So, they are crayons that contain pigment, a binder (gum or wax) and oil. The oil makes the crayons less powdery. You can add multiple layers of oil pastel, creating an impasto effect. They are considered a quick medium because you don’t need to prepare your paper.

I chose Van Gogh oil pastels for now. Van Gogh is a good brand to start with any art supply, because it is part of the awesomeness but still affordable. When you go any cheaper than Van Gogh chances are high you’re buying crap that doesn’t represent the medium at all. Which means your whole experiment has been for nothing. So, if you’d like to experiment with a new art medium: start with Van Gogh and work your way up if you like working with it.

For now I’ve set my eyes on the Sennelier oil sticks. For comparison: the Van Gogh oil pastels are 0,81 euros a piece. While the Sennelier oil sticks are around 7,00 euros a piece.

my first work with my new oil pastels - art studio the fran visual artist 2020
my new oil pastels - the fran visual artist 2020

MY FIRST WORK WITH OIL PASTELS

So, enough bantering about oil pastels, let me show you my first works!

new oil pastel work by the fran visual artist summer 2020
details of new work by the fran visual artist 2020
details of new work by the fran visual artist 2020
details of new work by the fran visual artist 2020

I’m experimenting with using different colour combinations. On top of that I’m trying to work as quickly as possible. Because that way I am sure I am working as intuitively as possible and that I am not overthinking it.

new oil pastel work by the fran visual artist summer 2020
details of new work by the fran visual artist 2020
details of new work by the fran visual artist 2020
details of new work by the fran visual artist 2020

Right now I am making one drawing a day. So in week I will be able to show you some more work.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you like the effects of working with oil pastel? Is it likely you are going to try it out yourself any time soon? Or have you been working with them for ages and do you maybe have some insightful advice? Would love to hear from you!

new work in progress the fran visual artist 2020
2 of 9 done
favourite colour to work with atm the fran visual artist 2020
current favourite colour