Portrait of Maquoketa Rose Frantzen

A Review
by Armand Cabrera

Rose Frantzen’s show is a stunning tour de force of alla prima portrait painting. One hundred and eighty 12×12 portraits painted on what looks like half inch panels which are not framed. Each portrait was painted in four or five hours from life. Anyone willing to take the time to sit for her was accepted.

What emerges besides the individual personalities is a sensitive group portrait of a town. You begin to get the sense of a relatively small community (population 5917). Frantzen’s ability to record the subtleties of each person’s skin tones is amazing. Each portrait captures a moment in time with the sitter, without excessive flattery.

When you think of what it would take to paint 180 portraits from life in a year’s time you understand the power of her accomplishment. Now add to that the level of quality of these paintings and you realize you are standing before something special. This woman is truly one of the best painters in the country at this time. Her abilities are formidable, combining broad facile brushwork with a beautiful color sense and keen eye for values.

If you are living in the Mid-Atlantic Area, or have the means to travel here from farther away, this is a chance to see a living painters work as accomplished as Sargent or Beaux. The show is on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery until July 5 2010, don’t miss it. The show is accompanied by a hardcover catalog which has faithfully captured the paintings.

All images in this review are by Rose Frantzen the copyrights are held by her.

A Proactive Approach to Gallery Representation

Armand Cabrera

I am always shocked at how lackadaisical most professional artists are when it comes to their representation in galleries. In these economic times, it is more important than ever to have a proactive, professional approach to representation.

Most galleries are as ineffectual as the artists they represent. As some of you know, I have an Agent, Diane Burket, who deals with a lot of my gallery issues. Please keep in mind, I pay for this service. If you find you can’t manage all the details, perhaps you should hire someone, too.

For this article, I will refer to “paintings”. However, these tips apply to any type of art you may create and wish to sell. Here are 3 things you can do to help your painting career and give yourself an edge in the marketplace.

1. Always Provide An Updated Consignment Sheet To Your Galleries
It doesn’t matter if the gallery provides a Consignment Form or you generate your own— never leave your artwork at a gallery without getting a signed Consignment Sheet proving what you have delivered to the gallery. The form should include 1) Name of Painting, 2) Size of Painting, 3) Retail Price, and 4) Amount Due To The Artist. I include an updated Consignment Sheet every time I send or drop off artwork at a gallery. With galleries going out of business at record rates, this little piece of paper might be the only thing that helps you retrieve your art from a failed gallery. Make sure you have two copies– one signed by you to leave with the gallery and one signed by the gallery for your records. If the gallery will not sign the form, don’t give them any work.
2. Keep A Photographic Record Of Your Work
Provide the gallery with digital images of your work for their website; don’t wait for them to shoot your paintings. You know what your paintings look like. You shouldn’t rely on your galleries to capture an accurate image of your painting after it has been varnished. I want my galleries contacting customers and selling paintings—not spending their day shooting images for artists too lazy (sorry) to do it themselves. My best selling galleries charge a fee to artists if they fail to provide professional quality images of their work. Don’t know how to shoot your paintings? Take a class, pay someone to do it or figure out how to do it yourself (like I did).

Keep a high resolution JPEG of all your paintings. If the gallery calls you about press opportunities, you’ll be prepared to provide them with the images they need in just minutes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been included in national and local press because I had a usable image ready to go. Other artists were ill-prepared and missed the opportunity.

3. Provide Your Galleries New Work
Make sure you maintain a schedule with your galleries to provide them with sellable paintings on a regular basis. One of the biggest complaints I hear from galleries is that artists dump a lot of old and inferior work on them. Why the galleries accept this substandard work is beyond me. But if you want to be represented and sell paintings, you have to provide good work for sale. I recommend swapping paintings out once a year—sooner if you are selling well or if your work is improving rapidly and there is a noticeable change in its quality.

The Unity of Purpose

by Armand Cabrera

A well conceived painting is the orchestration of many things. There must be a unity of the elements beyond the depiction of the idea for its success.
To help do this I recommend always using a unified approach. If you work outside, then finish your paintings outside. If you work in the studio, complete your paintings in the studio. The amount of time spent on the painting isn’t important; some paintings do not lend themselves to a quick alla prima approach. If you need to return to a spot to finish your work outside then do so. The approach you take isn’t as important as not mixing approaches.
You can never match the effect of outdoor light inside. There is nothing wrong with studio work; I paint in my studio all the time from photos and studies. My studio work has the same unity as my outdoor work because of the fidelity towards unity of implementation. If I need to correct a field painting in the studio I will set up a new canvas and paint it from the beginning. Whenever you preserve the unity of process your paintings will be stronger for it. I believe anything that fractures the process of painting diminishes the quality of the finished work.
After a unified approach, keeping consistency between the various elements is vital. There are many skills that go into the successful completion of a work of art. These skills must stay in constant harmony throughout. You cannot separate process from outcome. Outcome is the direct result of process and the ensemble of abilities you need for painting must compliment, not compete with each other.
Great paintings are not just a good concept; they are also a good performance. The ability to handle your materials effectively and the knowledge required for their use in service of the idea are as important as the idea itself. This is what is meant by the unity of a painting and this is what ultimately elevates it beyond the mediocre.

16×20 Alla Prima Painting Demo

I’m back from my workshop in Amelia Island Florida which was a great success in spite of the crummy weather. Stayed in Charleston on the return trip and was unable to post to the blog last Sunday because of a lack of internet service. I will return to my weekly Sunday posting schedule following this post.

Monday I painted a 16×20 demo at Fort Clinch State Park and opened it up to the public. We had 13 people in the class and another 12 showed up in the rain to watch me paint. The last 45 minutes the rain got too heavy and we all ran inside where I finished the painting from memory. Here are a few pictures.


Starting with the line of action for the tree
Massing in the large shapes
50 degrees and light rain
Modelling the forms
Painting inside from memory. I would never do this for myself but it was a good lesson for the students on being flexible and not giving up on a painting.
The finished demo
The Old Oak 16×20
2 hours painting time
There is enough information here for me to paint a studio painting at a later time. Sometimes you can’t get a finished painting in the field but you can collect enough information for a great studio painting.
A field sketch will always have more truth than a photo will.

Walter Elmer Schofield


Armand Cabrera

Walter Schofield was born on September10, 1867 in Philadelphia PA. His father was a wealthy business man. Schofield attended the Pennsylvania Academy from 1889 to 1892 under Thomas Anschutz. In 1892 Schofield travelled to Paris to Study at the Academie Julian under William Adolphe Bouguereau and Henry Lucien Doucet. He stayed in Europe for three years.
Schofield married Murielle Redmayne in 1896 an English woman and the couple moved to St. Ives in Cornwall on the English coast. Schofield split his time between England and America returning to Pennsylvania to paint the winters there. Most of his paintings are of the towns and rugged coast where he lived abroad.
He was first a friend and then a rival of Edward Redfield. The two had met as students and both painted in a similar style. They had a falling out when Redfield had shown Schofield the spot he had picked out for a painting Schofield painted his own version of the scene and entered it in a competition where it won a medal. Redfield was furious and felt Schofield had stolen his idea.
Schofield originally worked in muted tones but after the 1920’s his work changed to brighter stronger color. Schofield paintings were large and bold with broad strokes of thick paint painted outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions. His work along with Redfield helped establish the Pennsylvania style of Impressionism.
Walter Elmer Schofield died in England in 1944.

Pennsylvania Impressionism
Brian H. Peterson, Constance Kimmerle
James A Michener Art Museum
University of Pennsylvania Press 2002

American Impressionism
William H. Gerdts
Abbeville 1984


The landscape painter is of necessity, an outdoors man….For vitality and convincing quality only come to the man who serves, not in the studio, but out in the open where even the things he fights against strengthen him, because you see, nature is always vital, even in her implicit moods and never denies a vision to the real lover.-Walter Elmer Schofield