While starting out with a great classical art foundation from Thomas Leighton, Frank realized early in his art career that he lacked basic landscape fundamentals, so he once again looked for the best teacher. One of Frank’s most important learning experiences came from working with Charles H. White, internationally collected landscape artist.
Here are a few sample images of paintings produced by Charles:
Though Charles offered great classroom opportunities, the best part of Frank’s instruction from Charles was walking together with Mary Fleisch through the foothills of Mt. Diablo, taking pictures. The best time was the summer when the California hills turned a golden brown. Charles knew this as a business mind; the demand for those types of paintings greatly exceeded the green springtime hill paintings he produced. The results of their vigorous outdoor hiking can be seen in the painting below by Frank of the Mt. Diablo foothills above Walnut Creek. Frank’s return favor was sharing with Charles a digital camera experience, as an option to the traditional 35 mm film photography Charles was using at the time.
Here is Frank’s Mt. Diablo painting, oil and acrylic on a 27.75″ x 21.75″ stretched canvas with the painting continuing around the edges:
The compelling nature of seeing a path as an entry point to a painting was also suggested by Charles. To Frank, this also brings significance to our path through life as we select the trails and trials that might be experienced… keeping an eye out for the joyful opportunities.
We at Art and Zen are remembering this 100th anniversary year of his birth. Thomas was Frank’s portraiture teacher. There is more about Thomas and some of his work on the Teachers page, including a rare portrait of Frank, drawn by Thomas just before he died on December 31, 1976.
Some wisdom from a great teacher, Shunryu Suzuki, on sincere Zen practice and how to know when art is good:
Sincere practice and good Art.
“What is sincere practice? When you are not so sincere it is difficult to know, but when you are sincere you cannot accept what is superficial. Only when you become very sincere will you know what it is. It is like appreciating good art. If you want to appreciate good art the most important thing is to see good work. If you have seen a lot of good work, then when you see something that is not so good you will immediately know that it is not so good. Your eyes have become sharp enough to see.”
Now some may say, “But I thought there was no bad art.”
Well, the title of Suzuki’s book from which his above teaching is quoted is: “not always so.” So we will just leave it at that, with the further notion that good sincere teaching is also very important (more on specific teachers in the next few posts).
You might want to pick up a copy of “not always so” for just a few dollars on Amazon or some other source. This is some of the most accessible Zen wisdom available today:
Originally conceived as a room decoration for the Art and Zen Sanctuary, this 30” by 60” reproduction painting by Frank is of the earliest art ever discovered.
Frank used a heavy impasto acrylic technique on a wood panel to simulate the cave surface. Since hanging this work, it has taken on more significance as we sit and study what must have been on the minds of the artists that originally produced these paintings some 17,000 years ago.
There are a number of theories on the meaning of the hundreds of animals painted in the caves of Lascaux France. Interestingly, the cave walls are devoid of any landscape or plant renderings.
Our sense is that underlying the real motive, there was an obvious respect for other species. Today, we could offer other species a lot more respect than we do as a dominant life form with the capacity to show compassion.
There is a marvelous virtual walking tour of the caves here, or the link below: