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A Unit of District 27
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Sail and Power Boating


March Family Night Program 
Frans van Baars

Following are articles provided by Frans and Brenda van Baars
about Frans and his artwork:

The Life and Work of Frans van Baars

Over the last thirty-five years, Frans has focused on painting things in his everyday world that interests and inspires him. His creativity was inspired both by his early experiences in war-torn Europe and by visiting museums and cultural events in ports around the world during summer vacations aboard his father’s merchant vessel. Just before Frans’ twentieth birthday, in 1956, he traveled alone to America to begin a new life. By the early 1960’s, when his parents emigrated from Holland to America, he had already become a citizen, was serving in the US Navy, married, and started a family of his own.

In mid-sixties, he was serving aboard a submarine when he fell and broke his neck.  He was filled with both despair and determination to return to full health when his doctors predicted he would never again walk unaided. As he agonized about how he would provide for his wheelchair bound wife and two young sons, he laid immobilized for months in a striker frame being turned every four hours. When he could see out the window, at first he only saw a brick wall. Then over the next weeks, he became fascinated by a small stick that was stuck in the wall and which was slowly evolving into a plant with beautiful tiny flowers. He asked the nursing staff for pastels and paper to capture the beauty and wonder of this symbol of hope.

By the time he was released from the frame to begin grueling physical therapy, he knew he would not only walk again, but he was also determined to develop his artistic talents.

After he was medically discharged from the Navy, Frans enrolled in art school despite the challenges of his family that now included another son. After graduating from the Ivy School of Art in Pittsburgh, PA, and taking classes at Carnegie Melon, he struggled to sell his artwork at shows. By the early 1970’s, he was living in North Carolina and was supplementing his art sales with teaching. He eventually became the head of the art department at a community college.

His wife died in 1976 when his youngest son was nine. When his job in the community college became more administrative than creative in the early 1980’s, he resigned in order to devote himself to creating art. He married his present wife Brenda in 1984. A year later, they opened a gallery in New Bern and soon had a second location in Washington, NC. By 1989 they had closed the New Bern gallery and moved to Washington so they could develop their wholesale business selling van Baars prints as well as operate one retail gallery.

Since the early 1980’s, Frans has published and sold twenty limited edition lithograph prints and over fifty open edition lithographs. After becoming aware of promising new printing technology in 1997, Frans took the bold step of purchasing equipment to self-produce giclee prints. [Attend Family Night to find out about “giclee” prints. Ed.]. Since then he has created over 150 giclee print editions, mostly of NC coastal scenes and several scenes from New York to Florida.

In the fall of 1993, just as their business was beginning to prosper, Brenda became very ill with lupus and scleroderma. Following the advise of Brenda’s doctors, the van Baars moved their home and business inland to Wilson in 2002.

Over the years, he has developed a free program for third, fourth, and fifth graders that illustrates the similarities and difference between pictorial and written language. He has also begun to take as well as teach painting workshops.

Every one of his prints is an expression of the unique and creative way Frans sees the world. All of the years he has spent developing his God-given talent is evident in the way he is able to capture the spirit, and not just the form, of a place. When you look at his artwork you are transported to the times in your past when you have visited the seashore or walked down a winding tree-lined lane. In the midst of our often tense and highly technological world, it is wonderful to find a way to be transported instantly to the peace and tranquility of our favorite places. 

A Framed Limited Edition Print from the van Baars Collection

For the past thirty-five years, Frans has explored the back roads and familiar places of the East Coast with a sketchbook and watercolors. Painting on location allows him to capture the spirit as well as form of a place. Each time you look at your print, may it evoke memories of being in God’s beautiful creation and compel you to spend more time in your favorite places.

Frans’ prints are digitally reproduced prints of a watercolor painting. They are printed with archival ink on the same type watercolor paper on which he paints the original. Great care is taken by his printing technicians to assure top quality. Each print is inspected, numbered, and affixed with the artist’s signature. Finally, his staff frames the print using archival materials and methods.



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