By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN During a few visits to Paris with a friend, Fran Smith of Delano, couldn’t help but be amazed by all of the old impressionist paintings.
Though she had never painted before, and admittedly can barely draw a stick figure, she often dreamt of being an artist.
Finally, with the encouragement of her friend, she decided to finally put a brush to canvas six years ago.
“I wasn’t sure I could do it,” Smith said. “But I started with watercolor, then oil, then acrylics. I took classes through community education and really liked it.”
Fran and her husband, Tim Smith, have lived in Delano for 28 years. Fran works as a freight broker, serving as a liaison between companies that need shipping services and an authorized motor carrier.
Tim drives a gasoline tanker, and the couple met while she was dispatching drivers and he was a driver.
“Even then,” she joked, “I could boss him around.”
With her two sons, Michael and Pat, grown and on their own, her business and art now keep her busy.
One would have a difficulty talking about Fran without mentioning two huge and overly-friendly members of her family Pablo and Sophie. These two canines are Cane Coros, a rare breed brought to the United States from Italy.
The beloved family pets eagerly await visitors to their home to open the gate and don’t seem to be aware of their large size.
“They are definitely indoor dogs,” she smiled. “Sophie is my big baby. She even sleeps with me when my husband is on the road at night.”
With her own business, a beautiful home, along with Pablo and Sophie to care for, surpriprisingly Fran finds time to be involved with the Delano Artists Guild. She finds the group encouraging and very supportive.
Thinking about what she will paint next and planning it out in her mind is part of the fun process for her.
“Before I can paint, I have to think about it a lot,” she said. “I just can’t pick up a brush without a plan.”
Finding inspiration in other paintings, artwork, or photographs, then coming up with her plan, Fran admits she works rather quickly once the brush is in her hand.
“I like to work fast,” she said. “I usually get a painting done in a day or two, sometimes maybe a week.”
Fran’s beautiful works of art end up in many places other than the spare bedroom of her home. She has been chosen to display some of her paintings at the Primavera Art Show conducted by the Plymouth Fine Arts Council.
Some pieces have been displayed at the Delano Public Library Art Show, some have been purchased by area art lovers, and others have been given as gifts.
“I’ve given many away,” she said, then laughed while adding, “In fact my children pay me not to give them any more paintings.”
One look around her tastefully decorated home, and it’s apparent she has an eye for art, decorating and color.
“I just love colors,” she said. “they can be so soothing.”