HELLO and Welcome! I am so glad you stopped by.
My name is Fran Mason. I am an author, illustrator, and fine artist with strong (very strong !) oddball leanings.
I grew up in a rural community in SE Michigan (USA) and it was there that I happily spent my days climbing trees, riding bikes (wiping out in the gravelly berm at least half the time!), and running through sprinklers. Once we made a homemade slip n' slide from a plastic paint tarp and it was marvelous fun. This infuriated my father because we were not supposed touch his stuff (the tarp) and had matted a giant swath of grass in his manicured backyard! One can only imagine his rancor when we dug swimming pool holes in the yard for our Barbies(those were really, really deep holes) or tried to dig our way to China!
Animals were a huge part of my youth. There were horses, stray dogs, and barn cats, all of whom needed regular petting. That extra-circular pampering was in addition to the attention garnered up our own cats, dogs, small rodents, birds, and once, a raccoon we were rehabilitating. In the hundreds of little ponds and creeks in our area (Michigan IS the great lake state, after all), we hunted for salamanders, toads, and crayfish. We had no fear of these creatures, only awe, of the natural world.
My childhood was magical (at least the part without adults was!). We were left to our own devices to imagine and create. It was enchanting! This time was where my creativity was born and nurtured. I've never lost that sense of wonder born in childhood.
I received my B.A. in Art Education and Sculpture from Colorado State University. I taught elementary, junior high, and high school Art for 8 years before leaving to pursue an advanced degree. I earned an M.A. in Art Education and Painting/Printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) I've taught the visual arts to PK-graduate students and have created art, including illustrations, paintings, and prints, for more than 20 years.
Right now, I am working on my first two books. The first is a book of outrageous poems, including Recipe for a Hairy Chest, for children with companion ink, watercolor, and collage illustrations. The second is a middle grade novel about a feisty, imaginative fifth grader attempting to navigate an insensitive world, which will have fun spot illustrations done in pen and ink.
My visual work is the blend of childhood inspirations, COLOR•COLOR•COLOR, and a sort of off-kilter, oddball perspective on life. If I start chuckling to myself while working, I know I am on the right track!
I am particularly inspired by the work of fine artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jean DuBuffet and Alice Neel. Illustrators Quentin Blake, Henrik Drescher, Oliver Jeffers, Valeri Gorbachev, and Melissa Sweet, along with cartoonist-graphic novelist Lynda Barry all rock my world! Other influences include children's art, outliers and outsiders, design and toys from the 50's-70's, and Primitive art/Art Brut.