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Meet Frances Vettergreen

Making art is a personal endeavour, and when an artist works hard to put themselves into their work from more angles than one, the results can be connecting.

Frances Vettergreen is more than just a painter, she is a woman of many hats.  Writer, poet, mother, and doctor, Vettergreen has no shortage of places to draw inspiration from. 

And that is exactly what she does.

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“I am often drawing those other ways of describing my world into my work. I have always written on my paintings.  I am a poet as well and was probably a writer before I was a painter,” explained Vettergreen.

“Sometimes a snippet of a line of poetry, my own or someone else's, Shakespeare a lot.  I will write a description of something or draw a diagram of something.  Often they get painted over, and often they get left in.”

When she was a kid, she was a writer.  As she grew up, the experience of a high school art class with an influential visual arts teacher encouraged her along a path of art.    

Vettergreen entered Alberta College of Art as a drawer, then decided to further her art education at the University of Alberta where she was made to switch gears into the world of paint.

“I realized that whenever I was working with acrylic paint, I was drawing with it. But then they gave me oil paint one day, and that was a whole new ball game. 

“That was another one of those ‘I'm home’ kind of moments.” 

Her level of adaptability and multifaceted use of media is clear in her work.  For each piece, the elements she chooses to include make it diversified in a unique way.

“I am an oil painter, with lots of drawing in it and abstraction and mixed media stuff.”

“[I am] Inspired by the land, but there is also a lot of mapping and charting, scientific diagrams, text, poetry, that creeps into the work.”

“I went back to school, and now I have a career in healthcare that I run beside this.  That brought a whole bunch of new exposures to images and symbols that I was working with,” said Vettergreen.

“It started to inform the work, because they became things I was deeply familiar with.”

Vettergreen sees her art as a way to describe not only her world, but the human experience as well. 

Just as one observes different layers the longer they observe their world around them, one can expect to see a level of depth in Vettergreen’s paintings by spending time with them. 

She truly puts herself on canvas.

“The old cliche about paint what you know, write what you know, work with what you know.

“I don't mean that exactly, but I think it is really important to have elements of yourself in your work.”

“It is about making stuff and putting yourself in it, and exploring what it means to be human in your world.” 

Currently Vettergreen displays her art at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond and intermittently in shows at the Midtown in Calgary.

June 20, 2017


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