Going Deeper with Abstract Figurative Artist Frank Arnold

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Listen in as I chat with one of the foremost abstract figurative painters of our time, Frank Arnold.  Big gorgeous oils, cast bronze angels, New York times includes his gallery as one of the Must See sites in Los Cabos.  Ex race-car driver, driving force behind the success of San Jose’s Art District, now one of the most thriving in all of Mexico, Frank’s enthusiasm for life is completely contagious.

Frank talks about avoiding the ego, and how to get beyond the surface brain to paint from a deeper place.  He speculates on how, when we begin to paint, we work our way through our childhood until we arrive at our current age, and how painting through that arc is the only way to get beyond surface. 

He’ll also share what it’s been like to build this artist’s paradise, and how he manages the balance between public and private life while letting the art walk crowds flood into his home every Thursday night.  The gallery flows seamlessly to his studio, the guest house, and the home he shares with his wife Carmen.  They are a dynamic duo, hosting gallery evenings together with glamour and grace. “I wanted to create a simple life, and my wife Carmen makes my simple life seem elegant.”

A chance meeting in the gallery with noted depth psychologist Dr. Jim Manganiello led to a wonderful collaboration.  The two men wrote the book “Your Creative Imagination Unlocked – Become Who You Truly Are”.  In it the connections between imagination, creativity and psychological theories are explored. 

10:44 Frank shares some of his favourite quotes (his own and others) from the book

“I go to a place where no words are spoken, no sounds, no smells, and even my sense of touch goes away. I’m left in a bright place where things seem to be given to me.  It’s a wonderful place where I feel like I can do anything. A place that I’m so grateful for because I can see.  It’s like art sends gifts to my soul” – Frank Arnold

13:40 ‘The Story of 8’, Frank explains some of  the numbers that appear in his work and where they come from, sharing details from his childhood, the impact of discovering that he was adopted, and how working with Dr. Jim led him to a deeper understanding of himself and what was happening with his work.  He talks about discovering a backdoor to meditation while devolping the hyper focus needed during his race car driving career, and how Dr. Jim helped him to see the connection between that focus and the meditative state required to paint as he does.

“It’s almost like someone’s pushing the paint for you”

Where did it all start?  Being bored in the classroom led to daydreaming, which led to more art classes, which suited him perfectly.   Fantasizing in the classroom, as it turns out, was a perfect base for becoming an abstract artist.

24:00 We’ll talk about the rules or parameters that artists create for themselves.  On being compared to other artists, like Cy Twombly. “I feel like I could paint pantings that would look like his, but I’d feel like I was cheating, because that’s not who I am.  I’m not Cy Twombly, I’m not from his background, and I don’t want to steal his stuff, and sometimes I don’t think all my paintings are the best thing in the world either, but it is who I am and I have to stay true to that.  Otherwise I’m just cheating.”

35:55 Frank shares what he feels is the best advice he can give up and coming artists, from his studio days in California

Frank shares some insights as well from his art school days, learning from greats like feminist artist Judi Chicago.

Our favourite quote from Frank’s book, which came from 6 year old budding art critic Luis Jerrera

“Frank laughs like a kid and paints like a dragon”.  True story.

Frank’s Website: www.frankarnoldart.com

About the author, Carol

I love creating big cityscapes in paint and print. I travel around the world painting, teaching and doing art residencies. I meet artists everywhere, and I love bringing their stories to you on “Two Artists Walk into a Bar” podcast.


  1. Libby Jayne Sims on 03/26/2018 at 6:24 AM

    Frank is my dearest friend! I first met him in 2010 when I studied art with him for a full day in his Los Cabos studio. He always said he didn’t give lessons, but for some reason he did with me, and I took another day of study with him in 2011. Looking back, I learnt so much from him ( and still do). During those sessions, some of his quotes……”Libby, don’t be a whoos “ and “don’t be girly” as I played around with the brush, so very tentatively! One of the biggest lessons was that I could change the painting if it was going the wrong way, if I had “made a mistake”. This came on the second session when I thought that what I had painted, would do, was finished, was ok, maybe not great. Frank had been sitting behind me. He came up to the canvas, and with a large brush, put a cross through it, and said, “now fix it”. I thought he was being so mean at the time, but I reworked it, it was wonderful, and now every day when a piece is not going the way I intended, I say out loud “what would Frank do”. The greatest man with a heart of gold💗 this was a great podcast. I loved loved listening to it. Job well done!!!!

    • Carol McQuaid on 05/06/2018 at 9:17 AM

      That’s amazing Libby! Sounds very ‘Frank’ 😉 Thanks for sharing your experience, and for listening! Cheers

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