FRANCES STRAIN was born in Chicago on November 11, 1898, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her outstanding teachers were George Bellows, Randall Davey and John Sloan. She has painted in Santa Fe, New Mexico, New York City and various other places in the United .States and, abroad, in France and Italy. She is a member of 10 Artists (Chicago), the Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists, the Chicago Society of Artists and the Renaissance Society. Her work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the State Museum of New Mexico, the Newark Museum, Marshall Field & Co. Galleries, Increase Robinson's Studio Gallery of Chicago and the Little Gallery of Chicago--also in various other galleries throughout the East and Middle West. She has had one-artist exhibitions in the Chicago Woman's Aid and the Romany Club. Her work has been written about in Chicago newspapers and magazines and in The Arts, by Samuel Putnam, Inez Cunningham, Tom Vickerman and J. Z. Jacobson.
A painter is accustomed to thinking in terms of his own plastic medium. Any statement which he makes about his work cannot help being incomplete since all the complexities of his nature, his experiences, his surroundings, even things about himself which he may not understand, creep into his work without his knowing why. A sympathetic observer should be able to discover more about the artist by looking at his work than the artist could ever tell him in words. Painting became a reality to me when I looked for the first time at the works of the Impressionists, Renoir and Monet. My debt to these painters is enormous, since they offered me the only release I had from the dreary actuality of the first years at art school. They have had a direct influence upon my work. Later other influences came crowding in as a result of my enjoyment of the work of other painters, but I do not know which, if any, are discernible in my work. Direct association with Fred Biesel, Emil Armin, John Sloan and others around me I have found of great value. I believe in painting as end in itself, that is that the work should contain a world of its own to be enjoyed for its own sake and not as a decoration, an embellishment or a reproduction of something else. I try to use color, form, line and the other elements peculiar to my medium to express an idea that is real to me as intelligibly as I can. To learn to use each of these elements to the fullest extent possible is necessary in order to increase one's power of expression. Their value lies in the part they ultimately play in the organization of the whole. I am moved by art expressions in which these elements are used with meaning. I abhor insignificant decorativeness. I believe in going to one's own world for ideas to express, not in delving into archeology and emerging with a mélange of ideas from the art of the past to renovate as parts of a synthetic product. I feel that art may be called modern when it is the work of an artist who bases it upon his own ideas and experiences, though he may and should learn much from an appreciation of the art of the past if he does not lose himself in it. It is necessary for me to have a definite image from which to work; and, although I believe any subject in the world is paintable, I prefer that which gives me a sense of intimate and personal contact. I try to concern myself more with what the subject means to me than with its appearance. The part nature plays in painting is in the emotion brought to it by the artist who sees in it a certain order which arouses in him a desire to compose. Each must adapt nature in accordance with his own ideas. Frances Strain.