SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild Artist of the Month – Fran Dorr

Fran Dorr reviews completed work on one of her gallery walls.

LaVerne Kyriss

Fran Dorr says she is an eclectic artist, explaining that she works in acrylic, watercolor, collage and most recently in alcohol inks, thanks to a class from Francis Clark. Her subjects range from abstract to scenic landscapes. “Not from photos, but scenes I create in my mind and then on the page,” she noted.

Dorr grew up in a creative family. Her dad was an art director for an advertising agency. One aunt was a Zeigfeld ballerina. A sister paints and a brother is a writer and journalist. Her first artistic interests were in textiles and paper maché. “I took art classes in community college and I went on with life,” she said. “I continued to take art classes over the years, but never created much beyond class.”

Dorr held a number of positions during her working years, ranging from Peace Corps service in Guatemala to Women, Infants and Children food program director. “I thought you had to have a degree in art to be an artist,” she said, explaining that she’d always had an interest in art, but hadn’t really pursued it. Dorr’s sister further encouraged her, explaining that all you have to do is paint and that art doesn’t have to be photographic.

After moving to SaddleBrooke in 2007, Dorr began taking classes through the Art Guild and started exhibiting her work in 2010. “Robbie Summers encouraged me to spread my wings. I took a class in the summer through the Guild and learned to cut mats,” she remembered. “I then sold a painting at my first show and have never looked back.”

“Moving to Arizona gave me inspiration. There’s so much history, culture and energy here,” she said. “The topography, turquoise skies, animal life and the purity of the land are spiritual to me. I can imagine the landscapes before people inhabited the planet.”

“I’m pretty spontaneous in my work. Sometimes I work on a series of three or four pieces using the same color palette. Or I work on multimedia pieces incorporating gel mediums for texture, tissue, found objects,” she said. “Alcohol inks—another love—produce a very pure pigment but they aren’t forgiving in the way that acrylics are.”

Dorr offers this advice for aspiring artists, “Don’t let fear of not being good enough hold you back. Start with beginning classes. Learn the basics of drawing, composition, color, technique in various mediums. Go to art shows and galleries. Discover what you like. Be open to what draws your eye. Figure out what catches your attention.”

“I love to paint, play with light and create work that draws the viewer into the painting, but I also love to work with fabrics and fiber. I make dolls and both traditional and art quilts,” she added.

“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or the canvas,” she summed up. “Don’t limit yourself to one medium or even one kind of art. You can be a painter, sculptor, jeweler, quilter. Just let go and enjoy the creative process.”