MARICOPA — Details have always been important to Russell Frank.

As an artist known for his finely detailed animal paintings and ceramic pots, it takes him more than an hour and a half to paint about one square inch of his work.

“I sharpen the pastels to a fine, fine point to get a realistic look in my work,” Frank said. “Pastels lend themselves very well to making fur look like fur.”

Frank realized he was an artist at a very young age. As a child, at the age of 7, he won a local coloring contest sponsored by a local grocery store in Bakersfield, California, and later went on to win at the national level, earning a trip to Disneyland for him and his family.

The key to helping him win was his attention to detail.

“I never colored outside the lines,” he said. “I always paid attention to the details.”

In high school, he discovered ceramics and said he instantly fell in love with the art form.

“At first, I was terrible at it, but I loved it,” Frank said.

He went on to major in art, ceramics and woodworking at Bakersfield College and Cal State Northridge.

He began pastel drawing in 1968.

“I started with the oil pastels and I didn’t really like it,” Frank said. “But then I discovered the chalk-like pastels and loved them.”

Frank began his own hand-thrown pottery business in 1973 and has made many pieces of fine furniture and cabinets.

Focusing his pastel paintings on landscape, wildlife and waterfowl, much of the inspiration for his work came from the Northern California landscape as well as Africa.

Each of his drawings is done in dry pastel with a focus on realism.

In 1990, Frank became a member of Sacramento Potters Group, Northern California Art by Fire and Elk Grove Artists.

He joined the Pastel Society of the West Coast in 2008. He served as secretary in 2010, then became vice president of the organization and the president of the scholarship society.

Over the years, Frank has been active and involved in the arts world, often taking part in juried art shows and events.

His pastel works and ceramics have won dozens of awards, including first, second and best of show in a variety of shows.

Some of his work has been shown in galleries.

After Frank retired from a sales job in California, he and his wife Debra moved to Maricopa.

The couple has three children, Angelina, Seth and Michelle, and six grandchildren.

He sells his work through Facebook and is active in the local artist community.

“There hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for art shows due to COVID,” he said. “And I’ve found that the few art shows that there are, are very expensive to be a part of.”

He said he’d like to see more affordable art show opportunities for Pinal County artists.

“I’ve been talking to the library and other artists about getting something started for artists to show their work in a setting that’s not too expensive,” he said. Artwork produced by Russell Frank (below) is available for viewing on Facebook under Russell Frank Pastels and Pots. He may be contacted through email at frankpastels@gmail.com.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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