The paintings of Carol Frances might be described as a mystical voyage into a world of abstract symbolism and highly-refined realism. If her finished works are a kind of transporting voyage, so is her painting process. With the unexpected always a player, and the wending way of the process leading the artist into oftimes unanticipated ends, Frances' painting seems as much like the artistic adventure of a printmaker as it is the immediacy of a painter. The end result is a textured and patterned work of great delicacy and beauty, where the narrative lies partly in the real world and partly in the world of symbols and dreams.
Carol Frances began her artistic career in mid-life. Leaving behind a successful career in the business world, Frances was propelled by the traumatic events of 9/11 to pursue a direction that she felt would have more meaning and purpose. She chose to follow her long-time passion for art by learning to paint. As she threw herself into painting with an insatiable curiosity, she discovered a world much larger and more fascinating than she had ever known before.
Extravagant patterns, the flourish of antique text and the shimmer of gold leaf recall the paintings of Gustav Klimt. These elements are individually beautiful, but when combined into richly layered backgrounds, their metaphoric associations and divergent qualities allow Frances to cultivate multiple meanings in her work. Rarely does she begin with a preconceived design or pre-visible destination in her mind's eye. At all stages of construction of a painting she adds, edits, deletes and rotates the board, scratching through layers, often using an orbital sander. "I reward myself with potato chips if I hang in there during all this exploration and experimentation," she says with humor.
Her studio is like a laboratory, filled with experimental boards, materials and tools. Often a piece will begin on top of an older painting that mostly didn't work. Many new layers are added, yet some of the original will still peak through, enriching the surface. She employs stencils and photo transfers. The lavish French script that drifts across much of her work was photo transferred from a page she discovered in a cache of old family papers, a piece of her own history. She applies gold leaf, oxidizing and eroding it with rags soaked in vinegar. The color and patterning that result are always a surprise and frequently send her in a different direction than she had originally intended. The finely rendered simple subjects in the works, chosen for their metaphor and poetry, are birds, boxes and flowers, painted with great sensitivity and empathy.
Carol Frances' paintings have been recognized in many regional and national juried exhibitions. They have been published and are included in public and private collections in the US and Europe. Carol Frances is a selected member of Connecticut Women Artists and The New Haven Paint and Clay Club.