This month we are proud to present:
Francine Schrock is a Greenfield native who fell in love with Maine after going to the Maine College of Art (MCA) in Portland. She moved there to attend the institute in 1987 after attending Greenfield Community College and stayed on after graduation. At GCC she studied with former painting professor Peter Dudley (1940-2018) and loved it, but with the urging of her practical-minded father, she majored in Graphic Design at MCA. “My dad said, ‘You want to make art that gives you a paycheck!’ and ‘You can’t make a living as a painter.’ But when I graduated I was like, yecch, I don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day long,” said Francine when I spoke with her during a recent phone interview.
Francine joined the Coop in 2016, during a time when she returned to her native Greenfield to help care for her father during his terminal illness. “I let everything go artistically to focus on him and make sure that his last days were filled with things that he wanted to do, and places he wanted to go. I didn’t paint because I didn’t have time, and let my website go, as well.”
During that time, she figured that her work might as well be for sale locally and she became a member of the Shelburne gallery. Says Francine, “Everyone there was so welcoming and gracious and lovely, there are so many great artists there, and I loved meeting them all.” After her dad passed, she stayed in Greenfield to help her mom settle into things and then, “I just couldn’t stay away from the ocean.”
When did she return to her love of painting, after dodging a graphic design career? “In the early 2000s I started painting, and kept painting and painting and painting, and probably two years into that I approached a gallery and got into a show. Then I thought, I can do this!”
She was painting abstracts to start, then she “kind of filtered in with landscapes, and then I did a huge series after a friend of mine invited me to her island off of Deer Isle, Little Freese, and I spent the weekend there taking a million pictures.” This became her first huge Maine-based series. “I just loved representing the coast of Maine,” said Francine. “I think that every artist tries to explain why they paint—and it all comes down to the same thing. They all say, in different ways, they are painting what personally inspires them, and I just love representing the coast of Maine.”
Every February she goes to St Croix in the Virgin Islands for a painting interlude there, and in fact was selling her work in a gallery there before she started on the Maine series. Francine’s work has appealed to many buyers, and sales have been strong in and around those coastal regions. She believes there are more affluent people living on the coast, and the creative scene is very vibrant in Portland. “There is a lot of opportunity here, and I think Portland is a huge creative center. There is such a big art focus in Portland, which creates a culture which has an impact on every other industry.
“I had a lot of shows in Portland before my dad died; I sold a lot of paintings there, thousands and thousands of dollars of work. Since I have been away for a few years, the gallery scene changed a lot. There are new galleries and changes in ownership of old ones and it’s a whole new ballgame, which is kind of cool.”
She is already working on another Maine series, with six paintings in progress out of what she hopes will be at least 15. She works in oils, and starts with an underpainting of all the values in the composition using Cadmium Light Red. “To me, the red is blood red, and it gives life to the painting. It happens a lot in the sky portion of my paintings. The red will illuminate through the paint on top and it creates this subtle richness or luminous depth to it.”
She also believes that there is some underpinning of graphic design to the composition of her pieces, ingrained from her earlier training. “It is a fundamental part of me. I have this one painting, that I am going to title “Point, Line and Plane,” which is a 2d design concept. There is a point of light, a horizon line, and plane of water — it is so subtle, so simple — I love it!
She has had some success posting available work on Facebook. “Most of my followers are on Facebook. A couple from Boston showed interest in one piece and they drove up for a private showing with me and ended up buying three pieces!”