Art Teacher at Frankston Chisholm
A Little About Fran
Fran is a very generous teacher. She has lent me a book out of her personal collection and spent probably more time than I should expect talking with me about art in general and what I can do with mine. Teachers like those we are lucky enough to have at TAFE are precious, they work longer hours than they are paid for, they are always approachable, always interested and endlessly patient.
They are also practising artists with a wealth of experience and education behind them. I am constantly amazed and enthralled by the wealth of knowledge that can come from one single conversation with any of our tutors.
This morning we had the privilege of hearing more about how Fran got into the teaching and art career she now has. Knowing more about our teacher gives us more respect for their opinions. If you know something is coming from an informed source, you tend to give it more of your attention.
Fran began her career as an architect, studying architectural design at RMIT. Her parents, like many, thought that art would never bring in a steady and reasonable income, so they pointed her in a different direction. Fran however had a gift, and soon began going to night classes and during weekends began painting plein air in lovely leafy surrounds such as Eltham.
She was also attracted by the play of light, shadow and space in old buildings and soon began expanding her interest in subject matter. Her interest and influences from painters of the past such as Caraveggio are evident in her paintings as she has explored the atmospheric effects of light and shadow along with scenes of life as she saw it growing up in Melbourne.
As she developed, her paintings gained a surrealist quality to them, with figurative pieces telling stories, even if unplanned, about issues and scenes from her experiences. Eventually Fran came to TAFE and gained a Diploma of Visual Art part time whilst she still worked and raised a family (I really admire her for that).
Fran went on to further investigate light and shadow in her paintings, adding water colour to her repertoire. She has also kept up a habit of attending life drawing at Dr Sketchies, whenever time allowed, and here figurative drawings of the models in their costumes are gorgeous. She has also done plein air painting and drawing whilst on overseas trips, and I very much liked her city scenes.
Not afraid to show just about anything she does, Fran also showed us her sketches and doodles on the agendas for staff meetings. It seems that she is not alone in turning fairly mundane typed lists into works of art.
Changing her life from her architectural practice to that of teaching part time and now four days a week was a big decision I feel. She follower her heart and we are the ones who also benefit. She still has family commitments and tries to keep up her own artwork, but admits that work and family do restrict how much she can get done. Most recently Fran has started experimenting with acrylics, even though her first love is oils (as is mine), as they allow time poor people to get paintings done and when approached like an oil painting have very similar if not identical results.
I think Fran’s training in architecture is a great foundation for an artist. She understands perspective and modelling and has a great understanding of drawing. Fran is also a very patient and creative teacher. I want to personally thank her for allowing us to get to know her better by letting us into the story of how she got where she is today.