In part two of this feature, Frank describes his process and methods for drawing and painting and how he got started doing visual art. Click here for Part I. Frank’s paintings truly capture a snapshot of Santa Ana’s cultural expression through the representation of Mariachi, Flamenco and Jazz music. Yet, although Frank’s images portray contemporary Santa Ana cultural expressions, they were drawn or painted in the early 1990s. These images then reveal very natural expressions synonymous with Santa Ana. The image of the mariachi musician is representative of Mexican musical expressions found in the city. The image of Carmen Amaya represents the flamenco arts that are now commonplace in Santa Ana, with four or five different entities operating here, and The Blue Room represents an American expression that has been here all along. You can catch jazz happening on varying nights at Bistro 400, Chapter One, Memphis, The Gypsy Den and The Copper Door.
When did you start drawing?
In high school (Santa Ana High). I’ve always been a doodler.
Did you draw as a kid?
I just doodled a lot. I used to like drawing letters. I was never a tagger or a graffiti artist but I loved looking at it (graffiti pieces) and analyzing it, to me its very creative. The raw aspect of it, the urban aspect of it’s real and not pampered or fancy, its just raw.
I started taking art in high school because one of my best friends when I was a kid, René Angel López, was a very very talented visual artist and I used to hang out with him and he got me into drawing. I started taking art classes and I found out that I had a gift for perception. My art teacher, Lynn Morgan, was one of my main supporters and taught me a lot. She told me that I had a gift for proportion, that I could space things out evenly. I didn’t draw much there but the things that I did draw I submersed myself into.
Can you describe the process that you go through when it comes to drawing or painting? Because you have a very high attention to detail.
I think it has to do with perception. But as far as the process, I’ve never defined it. One of the things I do is to visualize the image in my mind first. I try to visualize the different possibilities of the outcome first. I’m not one to sketch, I just come out and do it and overlap things until its done. I used to love working with prisma color, that was one of my favorite mediums. And also ink wash. My painting of Carmen Amaya is done with ink wash.
What’s the medium for that painting?
It’s ink wash with acrylic on poster board.
You also have a painting of a mariachi musician, a vihuela player, what’s the medium on that?
Prisma color on matte board.
Are there any other works that you’d like to mention?
I have one called The Blue Room and it’s a jazz combo drawn on matte board with chalk. It’s done with different tones of blue. It’s portraying a jam session and there’s a smoky atmosphere achieved through the chalk. I did that for fun. That was back in the late 80s or early 90s when I did that.
Do you have any words for other artists in Santa Ana?
Don’t be afraid to show your face. Get out there and present yourself. Don’t think that you can’t exhibit here just because this isn’t LA or south Orange County. Santa Ana can be a significant and important art center for the county and beyond. Now with people coming back to the city, to live or consume, there’s an audience. There’s no excuse nowadays with all of the communication mediums available online.