We open a wonderful new show, Franke, Foltz & Friends on Thursday, April 25th for two of our extremely accomplished artists, Nancy Franke and Doug Foltz. You’ve probably been reading a little bit about Nancy right here in this blog…and now it’s Doug’s turn in the spotlight.
Doug’s one of those multi-faceted people who we’re pretty sure fires on both sides of his brain. He’s got a very demanding professional life but his passion is painting — and he pretty much nails it. We’re always begging him for more work (and politely nagging!) but when he shows up at the gallery with canvases in hand, our jaws usually drop.
His big and sweeping paintings are all about sky, sea and the space in between the two. They’re inspired by Doug’s childhood in Miami and the time he spent on the gorgeous water between South Florida and the Bahamas. He’s got a special spot in his heart for the Abaco Islands – that string of out-islands in the middle of a turquoise sea. Anyone who knows that part of the world can spot the cuts, passages and narrows that he loves to paint and we have fun confirming their hunch that yes, that’s near Pete’s Pub or Scotland Key.
And this water lover also adores the contrast that Maine offers. As a painter, Doug’s intrigued with those Northern beaches and that sky that changes every five minutes.
We love having an excuse to visit Doug in his studio, so we wasted no time setting up a meeting a couple weeks ago to discuss paintings for the show…and have a glass or two of the yummy red that Doug keeps on hand. While we were there, we got into a little impromptu Q & A:
AH & MH (looking around at Doug’s chock-a-block studio located in an old warehouse space): Tell us about this place – and where else you like to paint.
DF: I’ve got this primary studio here in Atlanta, and I also keep a smaller space in Blue Mountain Beach in Northwest Florida… but I’m lucky enough to paint regularly from a particular dock in Abaco; a good friend’s home on South Georgia’s Hird Island, and a stunningly beautiful cliff on the Central Maine coast. The Atlanta studio seems to be shrinking! It has great light, a lot of different areas for me to keep multiple paintings going at once, a nice work-island on an old oriental rug on the cold concrete… but… it’s filled (and getting more filled!) with tons of stuff that connect me to what I love in this world… photos, magazine pages, half finished sketches…
AH & MH: Your paintings are pretty complex and we know you spend a lot of time thinking about composition. Tell us more about the painting process. How does a painting come to be?
DH: Some start with a live view, some with an emotion and some with a poem that drives an emotion. They usually spend a long, long time in my head before they move to studies, sketches in pencil, watercolor or even pixels before they hit canvas (although not always.) Composition is king and I try to paint more of the way a place made me feel than the way it looks. Early on, I’m telling the paint what to do – I’ll push it around to make space or effect. At some point, the paint begins bringing its own energy to the effort and starts telling me what to do. If I recognize when that magic moment hits – when the paint itself takes over – that’s when things start to get good.
AH & MH: And how has your work evolved over the years?
DF: I’m getting better at recognizing that moment when the paint takes over. And I’m painting bigger than ever. I’m loving painting big.
(AH & MH: we love it when you paint big, too!)
AH & MH: Let’s talk a little bit about those things in life that inspire you to put paint on canvas and create these magical and powerful masterpieces…
DF: I like authenticity. I’m inspired when anyone or anything is real, true and honest… and willing to put that out there at every turn. I’m inspired by my wife, my dog and anyone who meets the “real, true and honest” bar. And, I’m inspired by many, many artists, including a lot of kids I know. They tend to care more about the act of painting than they do the painting itself. I admire that.
AH & MH: you know we love asking about favorites, so here come a couple: favorite subject matter?
DF: yeah, you girls with your “favorite” thing… I do paint other subjects, but very few views give me the rush, the sense of self and the settling that I find on the coast. I’m a landscape painter. And most of my landscapes are waterscapes or skyscapes, because I love the way water and sky make me feel. I also tend like storms because they make the calm calmer. I like the cold because it makes the warm warmer and the dark because of the light it brings. Those combinations give me peace and stimulation all at once. Being out there – on the edge of land and water and sky, or the storm and the calm – makes me feel very small and very large all at the same time. I love being caught in the middle.
AH & MH: wow. Next favorite: music to paint by?
DF: this week it’s classic jazz, liquid soul, reggae, late 60’s rock, Tchaikovsky, and Mark Knopfler.
AH & MH: here’s another one. Favorite vacation spot?
DF: Anywhere that smells salty. Or the Amalfi region in Tuscany or Provence.
AH & MH: we agree on all counts with that one. Okay, one more “favorite” question: Favorite restaurant in Atlanta?
DF: Changing all the time. We’ve been to the Optimist a lot lately and we’re looking forward to trying The Iberian Pig in Decatur.
AH & MH: yum. Last one. Tell us something we’d never guess about you.
DF: I like leaving a little mystery. Really… that’s it.
AH & MH: awwww, c’mon Doug. If you’re ending it on that elegant note, you better pour us another glass of this delish red you’ve got sitting here…
Stay tuned for our next little blog about Franke, Foltz and Friends which will focus on Franke in France. Got that?