WHEATON – Colorful New England beach scenes captured in the impressionist style of award-winning painter Jacqueline "Jacque" France will be shown for the month of July at the DuPage Art League in Wheaton, where a reception is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. July 21.
The longtime La Grange resident, who moved to Indian Head Park a few years ago, said she is delighted to be recognized with a one-person show she's dubbed “Life’s a Beach."
Her sketchbook and camera are always at the ready for painting encounters. For the current exhibit, her goal was to capture people and families in candid situations amid the colorful fun in the sun of York Harbor beach in Maine, which she has visited for years with her husband, a fellow painter.
The 20 beach scenes in the exhibit have been created within the past five years, she said.
"I'm a person who kind of sets goals for myself; in doing the beach people, I just felt I was surrounded by such interesting happenings on the Atlantic," France said, noting she relishes the visual departure from living in landlocked areas in the Midwest all her life. "I just felt there were so many great things there to see with the people. I don't like to sit on the beach and not be busy."
Another subject rich in metaphor inspired her to begin a series on bridges, she said, adding they range from bridges over Michigan Avenue in Chicago to little walking bridges and swing bridges.
"You also get the feeling [for] the area if you're doing a bridge which incorporates houses in the background," she said.
The paintings begin as on-location plein air sketches, notes and reference photos that become compositions for the finished paintings that are completed in her studio.
The professionally framed beach paintings range in size from 9-by-12 inches to 36-by-48 inches.
While France has worked in various art mediums, her focus is oil painting.
"I like doing oils – ever since I was in school – I went to the Art Institute," she said, adding the museum's school is where she met her husband, Gordon.
Back then, she said the classrooms were scattered from garrets to basements at the museum, and students were surrounded by the famed Impressionist works.
"When you walked through, you would see these people you would like to emulate," she said.
France earned a fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and would go on to teach art to children as an occupational therapist at hospitals and other settings while continuing to pursue her passion for painting.
She and her husband have turned their love of travel into opportunities to paint and study around the world
"We have a good time together," she said. "We each do our own thing. We have completely different styles, but we both like to paint outdoors [and] both are studio painters, as well."
Jacque France teaches art at a variety of venues.
"I love teaching adults because they come to you and they want to learn," she said. "I do that at some of the different art leagues and guilds around."
She's also taught in Maine, Florida and at Fish Creek in Wisconsin's Door County.
The couple have studied art in intensive workshops in Tuscany in Italy.
"We spend a week and we paint all day long and [sometimes at] night," she said. "When we go to Tuscany, we also … go to the Abruzzi mountains where my father was born – and we paint there."
Their art studies have taken them to Scotland, British Columbia in Canada, and Giverny in France, made famous by Monet.
"We like to travel, but we like to have a reason to," she said. "We're constantly learning – you get stimulated. It's a joy to paint."
People can learn more about her work at jacquefrance.com, and she said she puts a painting a day up on Facebook at jacquelinefrascofrance.
Jacque France is an exhibiting member of several area art associations including the DuPage, La Grange and Naperville art leagues, locally. Her work hangs in private collections in Chicago, throughout the Midwest and Italy.
If you go
WHAT: One-artist exhibit of beach scenes by Jacqueline "Jacque" France
WHERE: DuPage Art League and Gallery, 218 W. Front St., Wheaton
WHEN: Reception from 2 to 4 p.m. July 21; show runs July 1 to 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday