Frankie Brackley Tolman of Nelson, New Hampshire, is an artist who says the most important thing she’s learned about painting is to forget the rules. This approach has worked well for her. As Tolman explains on her website, “she has achieved signature member status in the New England Watercolor Society and the Rhode Island Watercolor Society. Her paintings have been accepted into many national, regional, and local juried exhibits and her work is in many private collections all over the country.” Her paintings have also appeared on the covers of books.  

Although mostly self-taught, Tolman has taken workshops and courses with painters such as Skip Lawrence of Mount Airy, Maryland, and Christopher Schink of Santa Rosa, California. But she thinks the most useful advice for her has been to always think “what if” … and try it. This brave approach results in paintings innovatively rendered using the massive spectrum of colors available to the artist who “doesn’t follow the rules.” 

For example, in her cover painting, “Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow,” an intensely blue sky, ominous as if a storm is approaching, is juxtaposed against brilliant splashes of color dancing on stems — yes, flowers — but so vibrant they almost appear as if on fire.   

She says, “Color is joyful and so alive. I just love color.” 

If plant life or a sky could speak, one can imagine in this painting they are saying: “Look! We are alive! Aren’t we spectacular?”   

Tolman paintings, which often contain her favored inspirations, landscapes and rural buildings, the canvas has absorbed more than paint and water. They are soaked in the artist’s feelings. 

“I paint what I feel, rather than what I see. So first off, I think about what I want to convey,” says Tolman. “I often deal with man’s place in nature, our mark on our landscape and that nature is so wondrous.”   

She’s a conceptual artist who follows her instincts.   

“My paintings,” she says, “evolve organically.” 

Intensity is not only created brush, canvas and paint. The artist must feel deeply to convey emotions, a state of mind or thoughts. Tolman achieves this because she is greatly moved by what she sees. 

She says, “I am constantly bowled over by the heartbreaking beauty of the world and am compelled to translate the emotional response that I experience — what Milton Avery, the modern American painter, called ‘the ecstasy of the moment.’”   

Her chosen medium, acrylic, gives her the tools to express this ecstasy.   

“Acrylic paints provide me with luminosity and vibrant colors to create an atmosphere that celebrates the joy of life — and hints at its transitory nature,” she says. “The subjects of my paintings are reduced to simplified shapes that provide clues to their history and our ties to them.”   

Tolman’s paintings can be viewed on her website: www.frankiebrackleytolman.com and at her studio, Amethyst Studio and Gallery in Nelson, New Hampshire (by appointment or during open studio events), and the Farm Directory section of this magazine.