Photo by Bill Diven
Portrait oil painting, Aryeh,by C. E. Frappier
Signpost featured artist of the month
C. E. Frappier Portrait Studio and Gallery to open in Placitas
In the radical '60s, Carol Frappier quickly discovered her love
of Renaissance style made her the odd artist out.
She would need to find her own path, she realized, leading her
through decades of study and the classical galleries of Europe.
But it would take an unexpected move to New Mexico before doubts
disappeared and the disparate elements of her search came together
for the portrait artist about to open her own studio and gallery
“When I was in art school, it was the age of abstract expressionism,”
Frappier said. “Traditional painting was frowned on.
“If you wanted to paint anything that looked like anything,
they laughed at you.”
In other words, after graduating from the Boston College of Art,
she was on her own. So she sought teachers and spent much of the
1990s living on the southern coast of France, with its expanse of
sky and ocean.
“I went to most of the great museums in Europe and saw classical
paintings with my own eyes,” she said. “I was trying
to figure out how they did it.
“How did they get that luminosity? I couldn't figure it
Back in Massachusetts in 2002, Frappier (pronounced frah-pea-A)
was beginning to find the tree-covered landscape confining, when
she met Anthony Mastrandrea. A financial planner at the time, he
had vacationed in Santa Fe for a week in the 1980s and was himself
ready for a change.
“”Everything gelled,” he said. “I just
wanted to make a dramatic move to a place that had a lot of mystery
to me.” Frappier's sole connection to the Southwest was an
appreciation for Georgia O'Keeffe begun in art school with a Life
magazine article clipped and saved when the legendary New Mexican
was one of the few women artists prominent in the male-dominated
“She always stood her ground as an artist,” Frappier
said. “I thought I would like to see where she painted.”
After the couple relocated to Placitas, through her membership
in the Portrait Society of America she discovered classical Santa
Fe artist Anthony Ryder and took a two-week class with him, followed
by an intensive twelve-week course in 2005.
“It was heaven,” she said. The decades of preparation
met a master of process, giving her the skill and confidence to
open a studio and seek commissions, she said.
The process is painstaking routinely taking sixty hours to produce
an oil portrait, starting with scores of photos of the subject and
a small impressionistic sketch to gather light and colors. An increasingly
complex sketch follows on Masonite board prepared with gesso Frappier
mixes from scratch, using traditional materials.
The sketch is first covered by an underpainting, which she then
covers over in detail to achieve the depth and radiance of the classical
style which, despite the opinion of her early teachers, has held
court for hundreds of years.
The cost equates to a studio portrait by a top-quality photographer,
The C. E. Frappier Portrait Studio and Gallery, at 3 Homesteads
Road Suite D, in Placitas, will hold its grand opening September
15 through 17, starting with a reception from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
that Friday and continuing from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday
and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. During the weekend, Frappier will
conduct portrait demonstrations.
Mastrandrea has shifted his career from financial planning to
managing and marketing the studio and gallery, which will be open
by appointment by calling 771-1896.
A sample of Frappier's work can be found on the Signpost Web site,
with additional examples on www.placitasartists.com,
a site featuring local artists