Projects Large and Small

Bainbridge Arts and Crafts recently announced its annual “Almost Perfect Sale” – bargains for customers and a chance to clean out the studio for artists. I got out the 12×12-inch panels I painted in acrylic – nine flower panels exhibited in a shared show as one quilt-like piece. I like the idea of this sale – better the panels find a life out of their storage box.

I began to picture them signed and titled as individuals, and when I posed them about my little workroom, I told myself – this will be a project I will enjoy – painting again on each, even if only writing words.

And then I thought about Rose Frantzen. If you go to, you will see a really exciting use of 12×12-inch panels. The link takes you to Frantzen’s “Portrait of Maquoketa” at the National Portrait Gallery and her gallery talk.

Frantzen conceived of, and completed, a huge portraiture project. In her talk, she explains the genesis of her project – her initial “ah ha” moment came in the grocery store: “I’ll paint a portrait of each person in this little town!”

It’s fun to watch her begin to speak nervously, and then warm to the task of describing her working process – how many people, in what format, and what the whole experience was like (not what she imagined, going in). While you listen you get to see her lively paintings in the background – 180 of them, people of all ages – each painted from life in one sitting.

Frantzen is an artist through and through. She also taps into “project energy” with this series – the vigor that attends something we label as a project – setting aside time, making lists and plans, looking forward to the encapsulated period contained within this particular project, and finding pleasure in the moments of resolution along the way.

I sent the link to my painter friend and to my friend who paints in the woods, but didn’t think more about it till I was in the midst of the small, doable, (signing and titling) project (a break from pushing along the larger pocket book project). But Frantzen is great encouragement to keep going with big projects.

Her project is truly enormous – and the joy in the video is her articulate ability to tell of her growth and learning along the way. When Frantzen talks about her discoveries – about individuals and generations, little towns and community – she describes dedication. The video is 57 minutes (an easy to complete project) – an enjoyable, inspiring tale of what became so much more in the doing.

It’s a pleasure to share this – I really wish Rose Frantzen well. And all of you, with all your projects!

2 thoughts on “Projects Large and Small

  1. I find that I am a personal-project motivated sort of person, I LOVE them! I make lists, thumbnails, and sketches endlessly. I never though of hopping on YouTube to see other artists explain their project process (duh! haha) Thanks for sharing!

    PS- I leave for the Tri-Cities 2 weeks from today. 🙂

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