What inspires me? Just about everything--Nature--Trees, especially tree bark, bare trees, clouds, rocks, lakes, the ocean, the art of others. Browsing in art stores and galleries. Being part of a group that creates. Collecting found junk especially rusted stuff. Going to museums. Colors, Shapes, Textures. I'm sure you get the picture.
When did you decide to pursue art, or did art pursue you?
Art has been rolling around in my mind for years. I've always said , If I had unlimited money I would buy art. Not museum quality art, but interesting art of every type that appeals to me. I'm especially attracted to assemblages, painted furniture, sculptural pieces, anything abstract with shape, color and texture. One of my favorite places is the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. They feature what is called ART BRUT, also called Outsider Art; basically art by self-taught artists or art by the mentally ill. My favorite art magazine is "Raw Vision." What really got me motivated to do something NOW was attending Art of the Carolinas and running into the people in the Guild. That in combination with the fact of my age--"if not now when," and the serendipitous meeting with a 93 year old woman artist in NYC who does drawing and assemblages. The minute I walked into her home and studio we made an instant connection. I never met a person before who picked up the same kind of stuff I did, and she actually did something with it.
If you weren't an artist, what would you be?
If I weren't an "artist"? What??? That will be answered in #7. Actually, I never thought of myself as an artist until late 1998. While I was out walking, I spied the pieces of a broken windshield lying in the street. "Aha!" said I. "that looks like art." I ran home, got a broom and dustpan, went back to the site and started sweeping up the glass. A motorist stopped and expressed concern about an accident and asked if she could help. I said, "No thanks, I'm an ARTIST??? and I'm collecting materials." And, voilà, I dubbed myself an artist.
What other jobs have you had which have aided you on your artistic path?
My work has always been in Nursing in the areas of Psychiatric Nursing and Substance Abuse. Not much artistic preparation there, until one day I was assigned to a young woman who was very ill. She was basically non-verbal; wouldn't even get out of bed. After a few days, her father brought in a big tub of art supplies. One day, I found her sitting on the floor surrounded by her stuff, just putting paint on paper and adding glitter and other shiny stuff. It was love at first sight. I sat with her and watched her, and we hung her stuff on the walls of her room. We became friends, and she improved enough to be discharged, then continued doing some art through out-patient programs. I have always attributed my starting to get some art supplies to do something, directly to her.
At the art supply store, which section calls to you first?
I go to paint, paper, bound journals, pens, markers, pencils and books, books, and more books. I love to look at the kids' section, especially the Dover coloring books. My other passion for relaxation is coloring Mandalas. The history of mandalas and their shape is an endless source of fascination to me. The shape can found everywhere in nature.
What new technique or art form would you like to learn? Do you have plans to do so?
I'm currently messing with making handmade, upcycled, stamps and prints. Also, I'm trying to figure out what to do for my project with the Chavis kids, learning about using acrylics, art journaling techniques, trying to learn to do image transfers, and using pouring medium with acrylic inks. I'm totally overstimulated!!
If you could do anything, and knew you could not fail, what would you choose to do?
This is the best question of all!! I would be a performing artist!!! I would do stand-up comedy. Theater--Drama-- but most of all, Broadway musicals. I would sing, dance, act and would be an all around DIVA. Although I am totally unable to do anything musically and have no desire to learn. It is a total fantasy I was fortunate to be able to experience as a performer for 6 years, with a group of guys who do a fundraising activity for the Alliance of Aids Services. It is called Drag Bingo. My name was MissDiagnosed!!! I wore costumes, wigs and tons of makeup. I danced, lip-synced pop songs and schmoozed with the audience. This was all volunteer work for the Alliance and we often raised up to 10K in one night. It was one, if not the best, most enjoyably fun thing I have ever done. I am so sad to have made the decision to stop, but realistically there is only so much makeup I could pack into my wrinkles and it's hard to see without my glasses.
Thanks for the interview, Fran...what we want to know is: are there any photos, or, better yet, videos of "MissDiagnosed" in action?!