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Inside the Artist’s Studio: Diane Ditzler Frossard

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“The Searchers”

By Derrick White

John Ford’s “The Searchers” (1956) was my dad’s favorite film. It is a milestone Hollywood western, a Technicolor marvel with shades of emotional melancholy, tackling the myth of manifest destiny with a man’s horseback quest to find and recover his remaining family. I will always associate this western and horses with my dad. He raised horses throughout his life more often than not. One of my earliest memories is my dad giving me a horse drawing lesson starting with two circles and simple shapes.

So, there is an instantaneous wistfulness when I see the exceptional work of local artist Diane Ditzler Frossard. This artist works in a variety of media including oils, watercolor, graphite, and charcoal. She has an extraordinary capacity to capture the essence of natural light on her realistic subjects and allows quick expressive marks and brushstrokes to build and become greater than the sum of their parts. A captured realism created from magically expressive movements leaves the viewer to become the searcher and reap the rewards of taking a double take and examining with a closer eye Frossard’s amazing artwork.

“It is gratifying when someone is drawn to one of these paintings, saying it reminds them of something familiar to them,” the artist stated. “As early as I can remember, I have had a passion for two things: art and horses. My father, an avid horseman, introduced me to horses at an early age, and they have always been a part of my life. I also loved drawing or doing anything related to art in my spare time. My mother briefly took an oil painting class. I thought her painting was wonderful, but she felt otherwise and didn’t continue. I asked if I could use her leftover paints and canvas. Although I had no idea what I was doing I had fun creating my first oil painting (of my paint horse) when I was about 10 years old.”

Diane Frossard has a degree in geology, not the typical path for an aspiring full-time artist. She knew she wanted to pursue art, but only painting what interested her and not have the pressure of having to support herself financially so she, and her husband, both worked as geologists. They moved their family to Tyler and established a ranch. Their horses are like family members, pampered, occasionally ridden, and often the subjects in her paintings.

“I still have the offspring of one of my childhood horses. He is now 33, and we have grown up together,” Frossard said.

Frossard is a Master Signature Member of the Outdoor Painter’s Society, a national plein air (painting outdoor subjects in the open air) group featuring the annual exhibition, Plein Air Southwest. Many of her landscapes are produced specifically for this exhibition. These landscapes are fairly small because they were created on location and had to be executed within a specific time frame before the light changed too much.

She says her inspiration usually comes when she is not looking for it: while feeding horses, doing chores, or taking walks. The lighting and time of day are crucial to making a seemingly mundane subject come alive. Thirteen of Frossard’s landscape paintings were featured at the Tyler Museum of Art in 2015 in the “Reflections of East Texas” exhibition.

Artists search for guidance. With the support of her husband, Diane has attended and learned from many different workshops.

“Bruce Peil was my mentor and introduced me to plein air painting. Paintings from life are bold, fresh, and immediate small works of art. I highly recommend Bruce Peil who works and teaches out of his renovated barn/studio, in Athens, to anyone looking for a good foundation in landscape painting,” the artist suggested.

Artists search for the sublime. “The older I get, the stronger my desire is to take the ordinary things I see in my life and bring forth something unique and poetic from it. The reference is a jumping off point. The challenge is being able to tap into your muse and bring out unique, mystical, and sometimes fleeting images from your mind. For me, it is most often done through the use of light,” Frossard said.

Artists search for development. Solitary practice is important and experiencing frustrating failures helps one grow as an artist.

“My breakthroughs and improvements most often come during those independent, alone times. I actually learn the most just from closely studying the work of master artists and staring at paintings in museums and online, how they solved problems, their compositions, brushwork, etc,” Frossard said.

Frossard is searching to give back to her community in a variety of ways. “In gratitude for all who have shared their insight and expertise with me, I like to share what I have learned,” she said. Frossard has been volunteering for a couple of art classes at St. Gregory School for 15 years.

Other projects include the “Hope” column for the “Pillars of Hope” mural project under the Gentry St. Bridge where homeless and others gather for church. She is currently working on a painting of the Tyler Square, which will be offered through auction at “The Art of Transformation” fundraiser on November 16th. All proceeds from the sale of this painting will benefit the Highway 80 Rescue Mission’s Triumph Village, a new housing project and recovery program for the homeless.

Artists search for satisfaction. Diane stated, “Non-artists often don’t realize, unless you are married to one, a lot of hard work, frustration, planning, and years of experience go into a good painting that looks simple and easily executed. It is hard to make it look effortless. It is not all fun, requires problem solving, and can be stressful at times, but tremendously worth it. It never gets any easier, because you are constantly working at a higher level; the more you learn and improve, the more your critical eye is ahead of your current ability. It can be frustrating at times when people don’t understand the value of original art: the expense of materials, canvas, paints, brushes, etc., the time involved, plus the years of experience.”

For more info about Diane Frossard go to DianeFrossard.com. Her work can currently be seen at Artist Showplace in Dallas and Valerosa in Tyler.

For anyone interested in figure drawing, Tyler has a life drawing group on Thursday evenings 6-9pm for $20 at Brick Street Studios, 1000 Augusta hosted by Russell Belue. For more info email beluesky2015@gmail.com.

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“David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on Exhibit

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This Month at Tyler Museum of Art:

The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and most major holidays. The Museum is supported by its members, Tyler Junior College, and the City of Tyler. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001, tylermuseum.org, or email info@tylermuseum.org.

David Bates, one of the most acclaimed artists in Dallas, is the focus of Tyler Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, “David Bates: Selected Works from Texas Collections” on view through September 9th.

Curated by the museum’s Caleb Bell, the exhibition features close to 30 works surveying the prolific career of Bates, one of the most versatile and widely collected contemporary Texas artists. Spanning art from 1982 to 2016, works in the show highlight several of Bates’ most celebrated series and include a wide array of media: oil painting, lithographs, woodcuts, screenprints and bronze sculpture. The show was assembled from art in public and private collections throughout the state, including the museum’s own permanent collection. Bates’ work is widely exhibited and included in several museum and corporate art collections.

Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors. Museum members, students, TJC faculty/staff and city of Tyler employees are admitted free. Support for exhibit is provided by The Byars Foundation.

Creativity Camps

Through August, close to 70 kids ages 7-13 and older dive into hands-on art experiences in a series of half-day and full-day camps. Each session is supervised by degreed artists and educators, and culminates with a small exhibition of campers’ work and a community reception.

Camps are held Monday-Friday (9am-4pm) for ages 6-12. Cost is $40 per day or $175 per week. To register online, fill out a form available at tylermuseum.org/creativity-camps-2018.

  • July 9th-13th: Upside-down and Backward – Everything looks different from a fresh perspective. Drawing underwater, painting with spaghetti, there’s no telling what will happen when you change the way you make art. This camp is all about real creativity, and young artists will help brainstorm up new, exciting projects all week long.

  • July 16th-20th: Beachcombers’ Paradise – Love the seashore but hate sunburns and foot-scorching sand? Come explore marine environments through art. Biology, art, and fun merge into one great experience as you learn about the weird, wonderful world of sea life and environments, and express new knowledge through art.

  • July 23rd-27th: 5 Days Away from Rose City – Some of the country’s greatest artists call the Lone Star State home. At this camp, you will explore the geographical regions of Texas and the artists who gain inspiration in them, ending up right here in East Texas.

Family Days

Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu from 2-4pm the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day. This popular program focuses on fostering a deeper understanding of the Museum’s spotlight exhibitions – and, above all, having fun! To RSVP for groups of 10 or more, please call (903)595-1001 or e-mail info@tylermuseum.org.

First Friday

The first Friday of each month, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions at 11am. From contemporary Texas art to Hudson River School to Andy Warhol, each tour is unique.

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Art Events Warming Up For Summer

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Events & Classes

Every Wednesday (6-8pm) and Sunday (1-3pm) – Acrylic Painting Classes will be held at Michael’s, 5839 S. Broadway, Tyler. Cost is $15. Topics include landscapes, life, and floral. To RSVP go to michaels.com and select the Tyler location. This class features master classic painting techniques while completing an image selected by the Instructor. Supplies are not included.

First Saturday of every Month (10am-2pm) – Eastside Fiber ARTist Meeting – The monthly meeting will be held at the Tyler Public Library, 301 S. College Ave, Downtown Tyler on July 7th. Please join the monthly meetings and participate in a variety of fiber arts from quilting, weaving, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, jewelry making, and mixed media and tons more. Guests and visitors are always welcomed. For more info go to facebook.com/Eastside.Fiber.ARTists. It is free to attend.

July 10th and 24th (both days 3-5pm and 6-8pm) – Painting on the Patio at Rotolo’s – Lauren O Neill has created a one of a kind painting and is hosting a painting session at Rotolo’s! Invite your friends, sip your favorite beverage, and enjoy step-by-step instruction with Lauren an experienced and enthusiastic local artist. You’ll leave with a one-of-a-kind creation and a new found talent you’ll want to explore. All painting supplies are included. Tickets are $35. Rotolo’s is located at 8970 S. Broadway, Tyler. For more info go to eventbrite.com.

July 12th (10am-1pm) – John Randall York Watercolor Workshop – Come out for this fun workshop! Bring your paper, brushes, paint and ambition to capture some downtown, iconic scenes in watercolor. To register, email Arojas@tylertexas.com or call (903)593-6905.

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Inside the Artist’s Studio: I Think I’m Goin’ to Katmandu

The Therapeutic Creations of Stephanie Smith

By Derrick White

“Art as therapy demonstrates the profound healing potential of using the creative process. Art as therapy appears to be as old and continuous as human culture with decorated artifacts existing from prehistoric civilizations to now. It manifests in active form through the artist’s opportunity for self-expression and in receptive form through the response of the viewing audience. The artist’s experience of creating a meaningful work of art and the audience’s capacity for recognizing its meaning can lead to a multitude of healing responses including increased positive influence, relaxation, catharsis, social cohesion, and strengthened spirituality. The creative process can also act as an analgesic for artists who experience a lessening of physical pain while making art. Creating art can be a largely unconscious process providing a window into the mind of the creator. Through an analysis of visual elements such as the placement of an image on the page, the colors, type of lines created, the use of space, the number and integration of drawn items, and the apparent movement of the image, a psychologist, art therapist, or other trained professional can assess the emotional state of a person, provide counseling, and monitor the progress of the person through analyses of subsequent works produced.” – from an article by Tobi Zausner, PhD, on a web site dedicated to the Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

When I experience the artwork of local artist Stephanie Smith (aka Steph Renea), I physically feel a release of tension, and I am metaphysically transported into her rich and subtle, seemingly simplistic, yet intricately complex, abstract compositions of color, shape, and line with their geometric elements. They are powerful and understated. It is a mental remedy for the chaos of the world. I would encourage you to experience this sensation as well. You can find Stephanie and her art popping up here and there around town at different art and Downtown Tyler community events from True Vine Brewing Company, 903 Handmade, and The Foundry Coffee House.

Stephanie graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Art Studies. “I took a wide range of studio classes such as fibers, screen printing, watercolor, figure drawing, and sculpture. I learned a lot of skills in those studio classes I still use today,” states the artist. Smith works with a variety of different materials from acrylic paints, pens, pencils, watercolors, and occasionally embroidery thread. Most pieces are on watercolor or mixed media paper but the artist enjoys painting on canvas as well. Stephanie says, “The media I use is not always the same for each piece. I typically start with the material I feel will best represent the idea I have in my mind and then I add to the piece from there.”

Some of Stephanie’s artistic inspirations include: Heather Day (California-based artist making abstract interpretations between what is known and how it is felt. This artist seems to have the strongest direct influence on Smith’s own work), Chuck Close (painter, famed as a photorealist through his massive-scale portraits), Ron Mueck (amazing, hyper-realistic, super detailed sculptor), Georgia O’Keeffe (painter of enlarged flowers, skyscrapers, and Southwest landscapes, recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”), and Ben Sasso (hip, photographer and educator who lives with his lady in a van down by the river).

“I have always enjoyed the arts. I grew up dancing and was always interested in photography. I would draw and paint occasionally as well. It was after spending time in Nepal I discovered my love for teaching. So I decided to combine these two loves, art and teaching. After starting at the University of North Texas I learned I really loved exploring in my studio classes and staying late into the night painting or screen printing. After college I took a short break from creating physical pieces and started work as a wedding photographer and started a family. I still painted whenever possible and was asked for a commissioned piece for an album my church was putting out. I had a small art show at a friend’s house. But still at this point, I never really considered myself an artist. I just really enjoyed making art and hoped people liked it. In 2016, my life changed drastically and I moved back to Tyler. It was then I rediscovered my love for making art and really pursued being a full time artist. Since then, I have been in art shows, and artist markets (or pop ups), and I have started selling my work on a professional level,” enlightens Smith.

She continues, “Art has been my therapy. It has easily been the best way for me to decompress and really process my emotions. Since most of my work is repetitive shapes and loose brush strokes it is easy for me to find a rhythm. It is in this rhythm I am able to find clarity and peace of mind. Many times I have broken down crying as I recall certain events in my life during this process. It is in these moments I find myself releasing the pain and replacing it with joy and healing. I am so thankful for art and how it has played a large role in my healing.”

Stephanie has some advice for those daunted by the impulse to pursue a creative, artistic life. “The most frustrating thing about being an artist I think would be with me. I have been working on moving past my own insecurities and doubts when it comes to my art. Working through those things is not always easy but most times it leads to my best work. So although it is frustrating at times it is well worth it,” avows Stephanie. I could not agree more. Find yourself a creative outlet. Use art as therapy and a remedy for all life throws at you. Let your imagination and creative processes allow you to overcome your own insecurities and self-doubt. Enjoy the ride and have some fun or just go spend a little time in Nepal and report back.

To find some original art work, art prints and cards, check out the following:

Stephanie will also take custom orders so if you see something you like and want to personalize it, shoot her a message and collaborate.

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