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Above: Rose Frantzen giving a portrait painting demonstration for the art video workshop "Portraits in Conversation"

Contemporary realism portrait painting > Living in Maquoketa, IA, Rose Frantzen is establishing a history as a working artist, creating figurative, serial, allegorical, and installation works in oil and multimedia, with numerous solo shows and participation in group exhibitions. She has also been on the faculty of the Realism Live virtual art conference.

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“Dormancy Series: Recoil, Convergence, Approach,” three panels, 30 x 24 in. each, by Rose Frantzen

“Portrait of Maquoketa,” a collection of 180 portraits, painted of her townspeople, was exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and is now an installation in the Figge Art Museum’s permanent collection, which includes a 315 square foot anamorphic landscape, voice, and music.

Art installations - portrait painting
Portrait of Maquoketa installation by Rose Frantzen

Typically, the subject in a portrait is a person who can afford to commission a painting or someone the artist finds intriguing for his or her own reasons. In a Main Street Maquoketa storefront, Rose Frantzen painted portraits from life of anyone in her hometown that wished to pose for her.

“I wanted to paint my neighbors and fellow Maquoketans without any selection or choice on my part, attempting to capture a direct portrayal of the people around me,” said Rose. “Together, we could democratize portraiture, allowing anyone to be painted just by showing up and participating.”

Art installations
Portrait of Maquoketa installation by Rose Frantzen

Her 2020 project, “In the Face of Illusion,” was a 4×70’ wall of contiguous portraits and figures in dialogue with optical illusions. “In the Face of Illusion” looked at the peculiarities of human perception in a time when we are being divided and conquered, sticking to like-minded echo chambers, with group identities hardened by voices intent on reinforcing illusions and sowing division.

Rose Frantzen was also featured on the PleinAir Podcast with Eric Rhoads. Listen as she shares the following:
• What it means to fail forward, and how it’s “actually a lovely process”
• Why there’s a resurgence of painting today
• Her suggestions for those who are new to painting (“I think the main thing is time behind the brush, and whatever gets that brush in your hand is where you need to be.”)
• Thoughts on the myth of talent, and much more


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“Spring Corn,” 72 x 48 in., by Rose Frantzen

Frantzen’s concepts and approaches to painting are full of electrifying expressions balanced with a culmination of disciplines she’s mastered throughout her life. Take a look at some of her amazing work:


How to paint portraits -
In-progress detail of “Haunted By What Neither Is”
How to portrait painting -
“Haunted By What Neither Is,” 24 x 30 in., by Rose Frantzen

Another recent project was filming the portrait painting workshop “Portraits in Conversation with Rose Frantzen.” Preview it here:

More About Rose Frantzen:

In addition to Frantzen’s “Portrait of Maquoketa,” other notable collections include the World Food Prize, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Dubuque Museum of Art, Iowa State University, and University of Iowa. She has shown at Butler Institute of American Art, Brunnier Museum, Denver Historical Museum, Iowa State Historical Museum, and as a three-time award winner in the Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition.

Frantzen is a frequent demonstrator, workshop instructor, guest lecturer, and panelist discussing art and the artist’s life in the 21st century at museums and national art conventions, and her paintings have been featured in national and international art magazines, podcasts, and journals. Frantzen is represented by Old City Hall Gallery in Maquoketa, where she shows with her husband, Charles Morris.

Study with Rose in this art video workshop (click here) and you’ll discover:
• Types of brushwork that evoke emotion from your viewers
• Methods for telling meaningful stories through your paintings
• How Rose overcame the challenges of painting alla prima — and how you can too!
• When it’s a good thing to scrape down your entire painting … it’s true!
• Create effects you’ve never thought possible by using both traditional and unusual materials
• Attack your canvas with chaotic abandonment … and then shape your concepts into a finely tuned, highly disciplined work of art
• Rose’s special tool for achieving absolute realistic likeness without losing the creative beauty of a portrait

Visit (Publisher of Realism Today) to learn about opportunities for artists and art collectors, including Art Retreats – International Art Trips – Art Conventions – Portrait Painting Art Workshops (in person and online, including Realism Live) – And More!