When I first met Jean Frank Stark, I was conducting a workshop assisting artists in discovering how to describe their work more effectively. She may have been one of the most humble participants as she expressed respect for her fellow artists, shying from saying too much about herself. Her self portrait that she made in the class was a black and white drawing. It wasn’t a simple figure drawing, but was a scene from a garden incorporating her self image. Subsequently, I discovered that she enjoys painting garden landscapes. I also learned that she is an art teacher.
A complete artist is holistic, I believe.
According to artist Shayna Bracha Farber:
“Holistic Art is the process which allows us to connect with our true potential by opening up a clear conduit toward self-awareness and self-realization. This is an important step to regaining our purpose, developing self-esteem and overcoming life’s obstacles to manifest our goals.”
Seeing a recent painting from which an image emerges from a tangle of fiber, I asked if she would tell me about it. Here is her description.
“I'm finding if I don't work on my art so hard and just accept the ideas that come instead of trying to mould a concept that fits my ideal...well, I'm just a happier artist working with the creative process more freely. In my studio I have a lot of materials and I tend to work with a sense of practical calm but also with an actively inner need, slightly on the verge of panic, to get to the bottom of whatever it is my art wants to reveal. When I began, I was drawn to an image of a young woman. At first I was ready to discard her because of some standard she didn't live up to in my mind, but instead of listening to my inner critic I decided maybe I should remain open. As I worked with her image I recognized the sadness we shared, and a sense of isolation. At the end I put a flower in her hand just because it came to mind. It had to be red and small. I later looked up the metaphysical meaning of red and found it means energy, confidence, courage and change. A project I'd been working on had resulted in my feeling defeated and down, like giving up and I was just lingering in the shadows of doubt and uncertainty about myself. I knew there was a Hidden Meaning to be found and that I hadn't found it yet, and that when I did find it, I would need time to be with it. To me, this piece is about hope when everything around is dark. We don't know how to move forward when we've done our best and it seems to have turned out to be of no matter. It's a point in time when we have nothing but what we can pull from within: some hope, understanding and a longing for life to get better.”
Jean Frank Stark
In this description she says that she began by painting the girl’s image and then wandered off. My impression is that the girl emerges from the tangles, just the reverse from the process.
Jean draws and paints with line work that may be a pencil, thin brush lines or a stylus dragging on the surface of an iPad. From those strokes develop images that express her inner thoughts.
“I love to create art of all kinds: painting, drawing, writing, knitting, sewing, paper sculpture, clay...and more.
If I were on a desert island and had to pick one thing it would be painting. So even though that is what I feature here, I have lots of fun trying new materials and ideas.”
Jean says that for her “art is a way of life”. Yes, indeed, that is the foundation that artists share in common.
See the slideshow.