By Gina Malone
Brevard’s Franke Prince, our youngest Cover Artist to date, has been surrounded by art and design since she was born. Her father and both of her grandmothers paint, and her mother is an interior decorator. At just 15 years old, Franke has begun to take her art more seriously. “I’ve always liked art,” she says, “but it seemed like just a casual hobby until last year when I started painting. After that, it started to seem like more of a tangible career and lifestyle.”
At 14, she began taking lessons from Red Wolf Gallery’s Ann DerGara. “Having Ann as a mentor has also been very inspirational to me,” Franke says. “I’ve gotten to see and understand so many more styles and to feel much more encouraged to try new things.”
She was inspired to begin taking lessons when she saw the work of another of DerGara’s young students. Up to that time Franke had been mostly sketching and drawing. “You begin to notice a child having the ability to draw what they see when they’re around 11,” DerGara says. “It makes a difference when they are exposed to art.”
Franke works in acrylics mostly, but also enjoys working with charcoal and watercolors. “I like loose, sometimes more watery strokes,” she says, “and I love the contrast of having some places really built up with paint and some not so much.” She stays open to the different subjects attracting her interest. Portraits of people and animals have interested her, along with landscapes and other realistic subjects, but she has found herself drawn to abstract art more and more lately, letting the painting reveal itself to her as she goes along. A guitar became a canvas as a way of “mixing it up,” she says. “I like to try a lot of new things. Right now, I love bright colors.”
Having an artistic family and friends who support her has been a bonus as she pursues art and tries it on as a possible career. “I have a lot of appreciation for the arts and I think I owe it to those people who first exposed me to them. Everyone seemed very excited to learn that I was interested in painting,” she says. “Furthermore, my friends are really supportive of my work which has definitely made a difference.” She counts her parents, her grandmothers, her older sister Cate, her best friend Erin and, of course, DerGara among those who have influenced and encouraged her the most. “They’ve all given so much into my life and I don’t know where I’d be without any of them.”
When she begins school in the fall, she will be a sophomore at Brevard High School and class president. Writing is another love and she likes English and art classes. “They have an excellent art program there,” DerGara says. Making teenagers aware of all the opportunities there are for careers in the creative arts is important, she adds.
“Ann has been very influential in showing me the different career paths and options,” Franke says. She has already sold a few of her paintings and others are for sale at Red Wolf Gallery.
She has always known that she wanted to do something creative with her life. Right now she is considering studio art as a major and looking at colleges everywhere, including Georgia, where much of her family lives and where her grandmother is a portrait artist.
“Art is such an expressive thing, and it honestly just feels like pouring myself out onto a canvas,” Franke says. “It can be very stressful at times, trying to get things perfect, but mostly I just feel very free to make everything my own.”
Find Franke Prince’s work at Red Wolf Gallery, 8 East Main Street, in Brevard. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1–5 p.m. Learn more at RedWolfGalleryNC.com or 828.862.8620.