Emerging Artists | Frances Pampeyan

Savoring her happy place

Frances Pampeyan, The White Dress, oil, 20 x 24.

Frances Pampeyan, The White Dress, oil, 20 x 24.

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

California native Frances Pampeyan counts herself lucky for having had an encouraging mother who recognized and nurtured her early artistic interests. They frequently visited the impressive Huntington Library Art Collections near Pasadena, CA, where iconic 18th-century portraits and other famous works repeatedly enthralled the young Pampeyan. While she was still in elementary school, her mother bought her a set of oil paints, and the budding artist would tote them along on summer vacations to Balboa Island in Newport Beach. “I was painting en plein air before I knew what it was,” she chuckles.

It appeared that Pampeyan was headed straight for a career in fine art, but when it came time for college, she instead chose to study nursing, which seemed like a more viable profession. “I’m not sorry for that decision,” she says now. “It’s not my passion, but I was always fascinated with the human body, and I learned my anatomy pretty well.”

Her training came in handy, in fact, when the nurse-by-day started attending night classes at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where instruction emphasized life drawing and figure painting. “I just had this feeling that this is where I want to be,” says Pampeyan, who went on to study with acclaimed artists like Jove Wang, Kevin Macpherson, and Charles Reid. Today, as a part-time nurse, she makes time to pursue her true calling, a passion that has taken her to workshops around the world and to national exhibitions with prominent groups like the American Impressionist Society and Oil Painters of America. Last year, she received an honorable mention in OPA’s Summer Online Showcase for her portrait painting STRAW HAT.

“I love the human face, but I enjoy variety,” says the self-described impressionist. “Balboa Island is still one of my favorite places to paint because I grew up going there.” No matter what and where she is painting—from florals in her home studio to a seascape off the New Zealand coast—the artist aims for “big and bold” brushwork and colors that convey her happiness when painting. “When you’re mixing a color, sometimes it’s so beautiful you can taste it,” says Pampeyan. “There’s a lot of emotion in painting. You just naturally want to share it with others.” —Kim Agricola

representation
Island Home, Newport Beach, CA; Forest & Ocean Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA; Four Seasons Tea Room, Sierra Madre, CA; La Galeria Gitana, San Fernando, CA.

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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