Frans Wesselman

Can you tell us about yourself and your background as an artist/maker?

Growing up in the Netherlands I was early on aware of and intrigued by the etchings of Rembrandt and The Hague School. As a compromise with my parents, who thought I should do something I could earn my living with, I initially trained as an art teacher, but soon found my way to the print room. I did teach briefly upon graduating but soon set of for Ireland, where I had a lovely time. However, lack of funds caused me to move on to London, where I did a number of rather indifferent jobs. I got myself a good etching press, I have it still, and started getting etchings and water colours exhibited. Now with a family, we moved from London to Shropshire where I continued to etch, paint and also do some teaching again. Around the millennium I developed an interest in stained glass, which I have been making ever since alongside the painting and etching. The subject matter is similar in whatever medium I use: I am interested in people, their emotions and interactions with other people, animals, even the supernatural.

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

It starts with an idea, however basic. I will try to develop that in sketches in my sketchbooks, and gather information as required. That my mean reading up, going to the zoo to draw a particular animal, getting a model to hold a pose, drawing on a beach in a gale or searching the web. Somewhere along the way it will become evident that the subject will lend itself to be translated into either glass, etching or water colour, though for glass I often make water colour studies too. How long something takes is a bit dependent on the technique, but also on whether the original concept just flows into a final product or puts up a hard struggle.

Where you do usually work from?

I bought a small terraced house in Worcester, as was on my own at the time, it became a studio with a bedroom attached.

Have you developed any unique or unusual techniques in your work?

Not really, but like in every trade or craft, you find your own way of doing things.

Tell us about a favourite piece of work and what it means to you.

My favourite things are sketches hiding in over forty years worth of sketchbooks. Every now and then I come across them and am reminded of that person, that journey, that occasion.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

The last few years a lot of my work has been based on sometimes very small events, situations that I have seen. As to other artists, I particularly like the graphic works of Picasso, Rembrandt, Goya, Hockney, Kolwitz.

What advice would you have for artists who are just starting out?

Be prepared for a slog but keep going.

If you sell your work, can you tell us more about how you do this?

Most of my sales are through galleries though I used to do art- and craft fairs. No tips, I don't feel I have got to grips with it myself yet.

How has lockdown changed your creative process?

No, I have worked through rather as per usual and hope to have developed a bit further.

Tell us about any future projects you have planned.

There are a few stained glass commissions I am likely to work on in the near future and will probably paint more water colours. And once we get the all-clear, I would love to travel again.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I think WOS is a nice organisation to be part of.

See more of Frans’ work on his Worcestershire Artists page.

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