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.
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:
The painting above (approx. 20” diam. Acrylic on wood) was created and gifted in 2009 by Frank to Terry Welch, the world-renowned Zen landscape artist, and art collector. The name of the painting is “Reflection Lake” and presents Terry’s favorite view from within the wildlife refuge he developed.
Reflection is key element within Zen practice. Like the stillness of the water improves the clarity of the reflected image, the stillness of our minds improves the image we reflect within our minds of the reality around us.
In 2009, Terry Welch, the owner and creator of one of the most photographed Zen gardens in the West, commissioned Frank to do a painting of his garden. So many photographs, published over several years, but never a painting.
The painting above, done in acrylic on a wood panel is about 40” x 24” and includes a portrait of Master Jian Hu, and a Blue Heron, both visitors of this garden.
In producing the painting, Frank learned that when the lines are raked into the sand (or as in this case, speckled granite stones), these lines represent the movement of our lives. This movement is like the currents of water flowing around islands and continents, represented by the large rocks.
If you stick to the center of the channel (middle path) you will be less likely to run aground, and keep moving.
Many years ago, Shunryu Suzuki, in his book “not always so” introduced us to the idea of sitting like a frog. Shunryu said of frogs sitting, “I always admire their practice. They never get sleepy. Their eyes are always open, and they do things intuitively in an appropriate way. When something to eat comes by, they go like this: Gulp! They never miss anything, they are always calm and still. I wish I could be like a frog.”
In trying to get a better grip on this notion, Frank created the 24″ x 20″ acrylic on wood painting below, projecting enlightenment attained while sitting.
Since doing that painting, we’ve seen several frogs in a sitting position throughout the art world. In fact, one sits guard in front of our computer:
The painting below, “Moving On” (48” x 24” acrylic on wood panel) depicts our urge to explore the far reaches of space and colonize other star systems before our sun expires, or some other calamity befalls earth. To do so, we put a lot of emphasis on technology. As the earlier post “Out of Order… Return to Nature” suggests, tech does fail, forcing us to consider reverting to our natural practices.
Hopefully, when we do make this voyage, we will be spreading our positive nature, and not seeking conquest, where we might meet our better.