Famous Architect Inspires Painting

Fran Dorr shows her winning watercolor painting. (Photo by LaVerne Kyriss)

LaVerne Kyriss

Fran Dorr said she entered the recently held One Image No Limits contest hosted by the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild on a whim. “I had been researching the design approaches used by Frank Lloyd Wright for another project and had already created two designs for fabrics. I wanted to incorporate this feel. Because of the rectangular shape of the door, I decided to create a painting that looked like a stained glass window,” she explained.

Her entry, The Door, earned an Award of Merit in the intermediate/advanced category. Contest judge Laurie Brussel commented, “It’s a very good interpretation. (The painting) has a very unique approach, geometrically balanced, good use of color and composition. It has a certain rhythm to it. I want to keep looking at it.”

In studying architect Wright’s work, Dorr said she is learning to appreciate how he integrated his designs with the natural surroundings. The design work was the most challenging, she noted, because of all the straight lines—both horizontal and vertical. “I had to use a ruler and measure everything so the perspective didn’t get off kilter,” she said. “I did that in pencil and it took the longest amount of time. Once I was satisfied, I used black Sharpie over the lines to stand in for the stained glass framework.”

“From there the painting was a matter of choosing the colors to fill in each block. I used thick watercolor to create the bright bold glasslike colors. The door was easy and then I went wild on the cactus,” she smiled. “I wanted the finished work to be capricious.”

Dorr explained that she’s not a classically trained artist and was pleased to win this award. “I came from a very creative family and we always had arts and crafts projects going on at home. My dad was a commercial artist and art director. We grew up going to museums and our home was filled with art books, but my interests are eclectic and I usually have several different projects going at once.”

Watercolor is a relatively new medium for Dorr, who said she still loves to paint with acrylics because of all the ways you can add texture by adding gels or grit. “With acrylics, you can start to paint without completing a drawing first on the page. You can begin and just let the painting talk to you,” she added.

“Watercolor requires much more advanced planning or you end up with mud. It’s a challenge transitioning to this new medium. I’m now learning about how to add luminosity through an online class,” she explained.

Dorr added that she’s looking forward to resuming in-person classes through the guild and taking part in other activities. “I love the camaraderie and seeing others’ work inspires me. I love talking to patrons at the art shows. It’s all here in SaddleBrooke and I don’t have to drive a long way to take a good class or share with other like-minded people.”

For more information about the guild, visit their website at saddlebrookefinearts.org.