Frank Townsley Graces Us With Nature’s Palette

Frank Townsley Graces Us With Nature’s  Palette

Abandoned - watercolour

It was happenstance that watercolour painter and photographer Frank Townsley spotted our van Arty’s bold ArtsQuest advertising decals, and decided to email us. Though living in Coquitlam, he was using space at a retirement centre in North Vancouver just across the street from us as one of the locales to teach one of his many workshops. And so it was there, after one of his teaching sessions that we sat down to get to know Frank and learn more about what makes his paintbrush flick and his camera click.


In addition to his painting and photography Frank is also an avid traveler and naturalist, which are both an integral part of his life and art work. A look through Frank’s images on his website will bring you to locations from across Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America. I found that the scenes he had photographed or painted were sometimes awe-inspiring and at other times evoked curiosity, giving me the urge to travel and to visit these spectacular places. As a naturalist Frank’s interests lie not just in capturing photographic images of nature’s wonders and putting some to canvas, but also in learning about the characteristics and history of the flora and fauna that he discovers.

Alpine Tapestry - watercolour

Alpine Tapestry – watercolour

Click on images to enlarge:

Having explored and photographed much of his home province of B.C., and having documented interesting facts along the way, Frank decided that putting together an educational coffee table book of B.C. would be a worthwhile endeavour and a wonderful way to capture the essence of this beautiful province. The title of his book is going to be British Columbia – Graced By Nature’s Palette, and he is planning to publish it this fall. Prefacing each chapter will be one of his B.C. inspired watercolour paintings representative of the region. Below you will see the photographic image that will adorn the front cover of his book.

Caught In The Light - Book Cover Photograph

Caught In The Light – Book Cover Photograph

Click on images to enlarge:

Teaching workshops on watercolour painting and photography has come a long way for Frank from the days when he was first giving tips on the finer points of photography to his family and friends. He is now busier than ever, and notes that if he is not teaching his workshops around the Vancouver area then he may be off leading a group on an Alaskan cruise painting excursion (his 36th trip is coming up!). Although into his retirement years, Frank loves to teach, and notes how gratifying it is to see his students learn, progress and gain confidence in their abilities. They leave his course with a sense of pride and accomplishment but also with a set of “tools” to further their creativity. Some of these tools may be techniques such as scratching, splattering or using salt (see video interview for Frank’s explanation), as well as learning the skills needed to fix mistakes on paintings once previously thought doomed and having to start over. To the benefit of those that can’t get to Frank’s workshops he has two instructional DVD’s that can be acquired by contacting him through his websites.

Below you will find an example of splattering (to create grains of sand or even stars or snowflakes), scratching (leaving white such as the trees shown here or the spray of a wave), and using salt (to create a softer, blended look with more water or finer detail with less):

To see more of Frank’s work check out his websites by clicking (here) and (here).

Coming up next is our interview with Frank Townsley! We welcome comments and sharing on social media and email.

12 Responses to Frank Townsley Graces Us With Nature’s Palette

  1. Valda Bardell says:

    Congrats to Frank! I have taken several workshops with Frank and have enjoyed learning from him. His demos provide great insight into many techniques and his patience with one to one instruction and helping you fix your “oops” is endless! Just wish I had time to take more of his workshops as I they are quite informative!

  2. Jeannette a Stigger says:

    Thanks so much. they are lovely. Jeannette

  3. Pat whitehead says:

    Franks endless patience is amazing,as all who have taken his work shops know. His attention to detail in his paintings and photos is quite awe inspiring. His workshops are fun even if we feel we have a mess on our hands,,but he manages to help us and our pictures are not so bad after all!

  4. Hi! frank , I knew you where talented but didn`t know how fantastic you really are.
    it takes an outstanding artist to see what you see both in painting and photography.
    you forgot your interview went so well I enjoyed it and will pass it on.
    you forgot to tell the interviewer You are one heck of a car diver. lol

  5. Peri Nilan says:

    It’s been Frank’s patience and encouragement over the past 10+ years as on of his “regulars” that keep me persevering to learn the skills of watercolour painting. He is an amazing photographer, and so knowlegeable of the places, plants and wildlife that he portrays in his paintings and photographs. I also teach art to children and adult beginners, and frequently find myself passing along the tips I’ve learned from Frank over the years. My students all know to avoid painting “ladders” for tree branches and to include “colour bounce” in their compositions. I look forward to his new book coming out. Congratulations, Frank!


    Hi Frank, Wonderful how things are all coming together for you.. I know it’s been a lot of work and “decisions”.. But looks like the book is going to be fantastic, beautiful and well received…. I know it is totally “BEAUTIFUL’ in all your photos and gorgeous paintings… Always have admired and loved your work… All the best to you on the book.. Keep me informed…. Blessings… Joanie

  7. Frank was my first art teacher back in 2010 and he has guilded me from the very first step into the magic of watercolour painting and over the year he continue to inspire me to explore different techniques and subject matters. I definitely thank Frank a lot in my personal development to become what I am as an artist.

  8. Anne Gapper says:

    I’m traveling with Frank up to Alaska in 10 days – can’t wait! Frank has been great organizing the group of us so that we are all well lodged and informed about where we are going. I’m looking forward to the book Frank!

  9. vicky says:

    What a fantastic interview Frank! You deserve the notoriety! I have always admired your artistic talent as the numerous pieces of your work gracing my walls will attest to. Thank goodness there are people like you that can produce works of art that the rest of us less-talented people can enjoy for hours on end!
    You now have full “celebrity” status! Congratulations and remember that I “shotty” a numbered and signed copy of your book. Well done my friend. Cheers

  10. Randall Grant says:

    Excellent work Frank, you certainly are an inspiration. I’m happy for the photography class I took. It did help with my own skills.

  11. What a great way to learn about Frank Townsley’s work. Thank you!

  12. Chanan says:

    Wonderful interview Frank,your patience and awareness of nature,artwork and us students is commendable .
    Your work is always breathtaking,I enjoyed both your photography and your watercolour classes and look forward to taking many more.I know your book will be lovely as I have seen some of your photography and feel that it it will be well worth anybody’s time to read through and see the magnificent work that you have captured.Happy holidays.

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