The artists of the Noonan Building would like to pay our respects to Bay Area painter Frank Lobdell, who died last Saturday. Frank had a studio in the Noonan Building for years, and many of us knew him and admired his work. Here is a link to an article about Frank on the San Francisco Chronicle web site, and another link to an article on the Palo Alto Online web site. The note below is from one of our NBA members, Mark Abramson:
Frank's studio was on the west side of the third floor, and we would often see him ambling down the hall to wash his brushes or clean his dishes. He would invite me in to his studio from time to time to show me his work. He encouraged me to comment on it and we would sometimes spend the better part of a half hour discussing things. Perhaps he liked to talk to me about his art because I was not a painter and had an audience member's perspective. At the time I didn't know how well known or how well respected he was. He would listen to my opinions and would offer insight into his process and the thinking behind the visual problem solving that occupied him so thoroughly and resulted in such expressive and engaging work. The image above is an example of a painting Frank created while working at the Noonan Building (image from the Artists Forum website).
He would work on a number of paintings at once, a family of paintings, different but related in color and form. There would be three or four large paintings on the wall, in various states of completion. He would often start by drawing on small postcard-sized pieces of paper. He'd draw dozens of similar sketches, trying to work out the best way to resolve some visual problem he had posed for himself. Once he had moved his sketches to a satisfactory place, he would start the process over again using larger paper, starting from the best two or three postcard-sized drawings. Another few weeks of work on the colors and forms, another phase of self-editing, and he'd choose the best two or three drawings as the starting point for some small paintings. After working one of these small paintings into shape he would take the plunge and paint the final work, at the time it was usually a painting of around 4 by 6 feet. The man worked really hard at what he did, and the final results were rewarding, for both Frank and his audience. It was a privilege to have known him and to have seen him at work.