After spending the majority of her career helping artists promote themselves and their work, Fran Redmon decided to get back to her artist roots after she retired.
Upon graduating from Western Kentucky University in 1977 with a degree in commercial art and a studio concentration in weaving, Redmon went to work for the state in the Public Information Department as a graphic artist. She designed daily press packets, logos, posters and invitations for all state agencies.
When former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. was in office, his party planner Steve Wilson had Redmon handwrite letters and cards for the governor.
“He liked my handwriting,” Redmon said.
Later in her career, the Department of the Arts was developed and Redmon started marketing for Kentucky Crafted, a program created by then-first lady Phyllis George Brown.
“We did promotions and took artists to trade shows in New York and California,” Redmon said. “We helped artists run their businesses.”
Redmon said she was able to expand the program to include visual artists and musicians.
“It was very rewarding,” Redmon said. “They’re wonderful people. I feel close to many of them still.”
Redmon retired in 2007, and since then she has turned back to her artist roots.
“I always wanted to get back to some type of art form,” she said. “Working with artists made me want to do it myself.”
Redmon was introduced to art when she was about 4 years old when she received a set of watercolors. “It seems that’s when it all started,” she said, “but I don’t remember ever not doing art.”
Throughout school, Redmon entered whatever arts contest there was, she said. In high school at Woodford County, she took all of the art classes available and adored her art teacher. In college at WKU, she took printmaking, ceramics, weaving, drawing and graphic design.
Having spent most of her career doing graphic design, she decided in retirement she wanted to do another medium.
Now, she works with pastels. She took a workshop with Marianna McDonald, a pastel artist in Lexington, who helped her perfect her technique.
“I had never used pastels, but the more I work in pastels, the more I enjoy doing it,” she said.
Redmon said that pastels are pure pigment and she often starts her artwork with an underpainting. “You spread the pastel on the paper and then wet it and it turns it into paint.
“It’s a design technique,” she said. “You see the complement of color underneath it. It creates vibrancy.”
Redmon also likes that pastels are a dry medium. “You don’t have to worry about heavy paint and cleaning brushes.”
Redmon’s favorite scenes to paint are landscapes. She also paints florals and urban scenes.
“I’m inspired by everything I see here in Central Kentucky,” she said. She paints scenes from country roads in Franklin, Shelby, Scott and Woodford counties.
She also paints scenes from her travels, including the Smoky Mountains.
One of her favorite scenes she painted is from a horse farm on Old Frankfort Pike.
“I like the afternoon shadows though the fence and long shadows across the field,” she said.
Another one of her favorite pieces is a close up of rocks in a stream, which has a simple composition, she said.
“The reason I like it so much is that it was a challenge and it came out even better than I hoped,” she said. “The process was simple and not a technique I normally do. I did it on a clear matte board and created a texture that fits the design.”
Redmon started posting her work on Facebook and friends began asking to purchase it. When Redmon had created enough pieces, she juried into art shows and sold her work.
“It was all very encouraging and kept me motivated,” she said.
Redmon also does commission work, which she enjoys doing because it connects her with her clients on a personal level.
“I’ve done family homes and barns, and pictures from vacation that have a special meaning,” she said.
Redmon said creating art has been her lifeline.
“It’s like therapy,” she said. “True to any hobby, it is so therapeutic and cathartic. When you zone out and you’re engrossed in what you’re doing, everything else goes away. You don’t think about anything.”
What has surprised her about her art is that people want to buy it.
“It’s like a part of your soul and sharing a piece of who you are, and people appreciate it.”
About a dozen original framed pieces of Redmon’s art, along with a few prints, are currently for sale at Completely Kentucky on Broadway Street in downtown Frankfort.
To learn more about her art, visit franredmonfineart.com and follow her on Facebook.