Saturday, May 25, 2013

Frank Janca Modern Day Master

I have a tango student that turned out to be someone from my past. How crazy to meet someone 40 years later in a different city, as a grown-up, and finding out we went to the same art schools. In the tango world, first names suffice. And the dance is really what it's all about. So it takes awhile to find out what people "do".

Frank Janca paints en plein air - En plein air is a French expression which means "in the open air," and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors - I love this painting of a lavender field

Alberto had mentioned to me that Frank is an artist. I filed it away in the back of my brain, and finally after months of small talk in our classes or at social dances, I began to connect the dots. I asked Frank his last name so I could look him up. It took me a few weeks. I like him so much that I didn't want to know that if he was an artist, was he any good. Not that it would change my regard for him, but you want the people you like to be good at what they say they do.

Another lavender field in France by Frank Janca

I finally went to Frank's web site. We both studied at The Art Students League in New York. This is an art school that trains students in old master techniques. It's about figure drawing, anatomy and perspective classes, copying old master paintings, etc. It was not a place that one went to, if you were gunning to be an abstract expressionist which was all the rage when Frank and I were young art students. The curriculum was hard, and the teachers were serious.

Frank uses the technique of under painting a grayscale and then adding color on top of it - a technique from the 17th century

from Frank's web site: 

"Frank Janca. is a modern—day master in the truest sense. His impressionist canvases display an emulation of the Baroque and Renaissance Masters married with a refined individual style. Janca insists on personal involvement in every aspect of his paintings. Dissatisfied with the quality of paints commercially available to artists, he grinds his pigment by hand and cooks his own oil mediums, similar to the manner of medieval alchemists. His carefully prepared linen canvases are frequently underpainted in grisaille, a centuries-old technique of painting the forms in grayscale before color is used. Janca then paints the final image with rich, jeweled colors. The results of these efforts are luxurious colors now rare in contemporary work and paintings which will remain in the finest condition for generations to come. The length of a typical painting day for Janca is about 14 hours. Such perseverance has brought Janca’s work to a level reflecting the insight and maturity of a master painter who is recognized as such in the United States and abroad."

Plein air painting by Frank Janca

Frank does it all. Plein air landscapes and street scenes painted in France (and all over the world). He also does beautiful still life and portrait paintings. He is originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, and after several years in New York, he returned. Frank works with many interior decorators and designers in the Biloxi area, whose clients are thrilled to have his paintings in their homes.

Frank Janca  uses luxurious colors now rare in contemporary work - His paintings will remain in the finest condition for generations to come

Frank has many beautiful still life paintings in his portfoilo

I love the street life he captures in Paris - This is the Marche du Poulet

Frank Janca did this painting of a boulangerie in Paris

This is one of my favorite Parisian street scenes done by Frank Janca - a misty morning in Saint-Germain-des-Pres

This lovely portrait was done by Frank Janca when he was at The Art Students League in New York

If you don't have the budget for an original you can get a print of Frank Janca's paintings at

Frank Janca has an exhibition coming up in Biloxi at Ohr-O'Keefe Musuem of Art If you are in the area, stop in and say hello while you get to experience his incredible work in person, and tell him the Vamp sends you - or maybe you should say his tango teacher sends you.

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  1. Elegant is the only word that I can think of to describe his work. Wish I was planning a trip south. How lucky for you to reconnect with him.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I relate to it, as I'm married to an artist who sought training in the fundamentals during the 1960s abstract craze. Many thanks for sharing. And I look forward to seeing Frank Janca's work at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum.

  3. Wonderful ! I wonder if you know my friend Gail Ribas, another brilliant plein air artist / teacher .. from Maine.
    Makes me wish I had kept up my art classes :)
    besitos, C