Frances Wells doesn't view a tree, a flower or a roadside scene the way most of us do.
For her, it could be the inspiration for her next painting.
"I really can't separate my art from just enjoying the visual aspects of nature," said Wells, a Kentucky native who moved to the Augusta area eight years ago with her husband Joe Cunningham. "I am constantly looking and designing with my eye. I might see a landscape that might be a beginning place for a painting."
Wells is spending the summer in her 100-year-old home in western Kentucky where she grew up, but lives in Martinez for nine months out of the year. Her summers in Kentucky give her the opportunity to spend time with her daughter's family, which includes three grandchildren.
Her paintings have appeared in many invitational and juried exhibitions, as well as private collections throughout the United States.
In May, her mixed-media painting Water, Moss and Rocks received an award at the Georgia Watercolor Society's 2003 Exhibition in Gainesville, Ga., at the Quinlan Art Center.
Her painting He Didn't Want To Leave was judged and accepted into the Hilton Head National Exhibition, also in May, at the Art Center of Coastal Carolina, Hilton Head, S.C.
The juried Kentucky Visions Exhibition 2002 at the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort, Ky., also included one of her paintings. Her works also have hung at national competitions including Watercolor USA 1999 in Springfield, Mo., and the National Watercolor Society's 2001 Exhibition in Brea, Calif. Her artwork graces the covers of eight college textbooks for Macmillan of New York, Prentice Hall and St. Martins Press. Last fall she won the mixed-media award at New Horizons Art Festival at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion, where she also has won best of show.
Wells earned a degree in fine arts from Murray State University in Murray, Ky. in 1963. Now retired, she taught high school art for 29 years and was head of the art department at Union County High School in Morganfield, Ky.
"Being an art teacher, I have been exposed to so much and so many different kinds of art. I did enjoy that immensely, but when I retired, it freed me up to do more painting and exhibiting," she said.
After she moved to the area, she began meeting and painting with Women on Paper, Augusta's professional art group.
"Most are retired from some art endeavor, so we fit together perfectly because we have the same interest. We go to lunch and talk art and grandchildren. Most do compete nationally," Wells said.
Wells enjoys painting in abstract and realistic approaches.
"I like the nonobjective abstract expressionism a little better," she said. "Once you get to a point where you can make an object look like an object, you look for other avenues to keep your interest in the craft."
She is represented by Image One Gallery in Henderson, Ky. and the Aiken Center for the Arts.
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