Q&A Exchange with Frank Weir, Painter
FW: I suppose my work reflects what interest me and what has impacted my life. My first degree was in art, but I spent many years in the field of anthropology working with Native Americans and investigating prehistoric archaeological sites across the United States; thus my interest in having American Indians as subjects to paint beginning more than 50 years ago. Religion has always played a major roll in my life and I have explored many faiths. In 1985 I was impressed by an extensive exhibit of Russian Orthodox art I attended in North Texas. I wanted to know more so I studied the history of orthodox art and later attended workshops by a distinguished Russian iconographer, Vladislav Andrejev. I have been "writing" icons in the Byzantine Russian style for almost 20 years.
AC: What is your earliest memory of art and when did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
FW: My interest in art goes back as far as I can remember. I remember drawing when I was five and I began painting in oils when I was ten. I don't think I thought about doing any thing else until I reached high school when I expanded my interest into music, geology, archaeology, (and girls). When I was at the University of Texas I majored in geology but wound up with a double major in geology/art, so I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Art. I spent three years in the US Army and two years in commercial art. I then returned to graduate school to get my MA and PhD degrees in Anthropology. Although I worked for the State of Texas as an Archaeologist for almost 26 years, I never stopped painting and exhibiting.
AC:What artist or artists have had the most influence on your work?
FW: I don't consider myself as having a particular styles since I've been influenced by so many. Of course you have to consider the classics; Rembrandt, Titian, and on and on. I love the impressionist, and certainly western artists like Charles Russell, Kenneth Riley and Howard Terpning. And Frank Howell whom I had met.
AC: What is your favorite aspect of what you do?
FW: When I am painting I completely focus on the subject and forget about the world around me. I lose myself in my work which can be a detriment: I don't answer phone calls, I might miss appointments, and if I'm worrying about a project I may forget to pay bills. I guess that is not a favorite aspect. I suppose the reason I do art is the simple pleasure of being able to create something that someone else might like.
AC: In Russia, the painting of icons is considered to be a prayerful or religious experience. Do you find there to be a spiritual dimension when you paint?
FW: When I do icons there is a spiritual dimension in that if I am not in a spiritual mode, I find it very difficult to paint. It requires a totally different mind set. I like to listen to music when I am painting and I always listen to Russian Orthodox church music when I am working on icons. I have to have the music to do it properly. I've tried to work on an icon without the music, and I can't do it. When an artist is having trouble with a piece, you will hear "It just isn't working". To do an icon without a spiritual atmosphere (for me the music), it just doesn't work!