For Jeff Franses, painting is not just a hobby, it is a passion. He gives Dorset Society an exclusive viewing of his works of art

Best known for his luxury boutique jewellery shop in Westover Road, Bournemouth, proprietor Jeff Franses has been surrounded by precious gems and glitzy diamonds for most of his life. 
For the past three decades Jeff has owned and run his family jewellers alongside wife Beverly and son James. Creativity runs through their blood line and now Jeff adds another string to his bow - painting.

“My wife’s grandfather was a jewellery maker, her father was a jewellery maker, so we are now the fourth generation. My son James is an integral part of the company, with James designing and making the jewellery in our in-house workshop at our Westover Road premises. My father, 92, is also an oil painter so the creativity is in the genes,” he says.

With such a history, it is little wonder that Jeff and his family became jewellers but it is remarkable that his hidden talent for painting has gone untapped, until now. 

“I have discovered this a bit later in life. I’ve always been interested in sketching and drawing but never realised that I would enjoy watercolour painting so much. It has changed my life.

“My wife bought me a surprise holiday painting course four years ago and it’s grown from there. I was thrown in the deep end but I love it; you start with a white piece of paper and when you finish, it’s just wonderful,” enthuses Jeff.

“I live and breathe jewellery. This business is a way of life and you can’t switch off from it but it’s nice to do something outside of the business. We love designing and creating jewellery, so being creative goes hand in hand.

Over the last four years Jeff has travelled to beautiful destinations where he paints outdoor on location, or captures scenes on camera to then paint back home in Sandbanks. From New York, Paris, Spain and Sicily, to Barbados, London, and Suffolk, Jeff has brought many stunning landscapes to life with every brush stroke.

“Painting from holiday photos really takes you back to the sun in the Mediterranean. This is the first time I have put my collection together. 

“Painting holidays enable me to paint in different settings and lighting conditions, and changing environments. I prefer painting to reading on the beach – to me that is far more enjoyable than reading a book.

“I was in Spain recently painting live models alongside Chinese mentor of portraits Liu Yi and came back with some portraits I never realised I could do. They are all quite visually special. You want to create the best you can possibly do at any given picture. I’m attached to all of them. I love my portraits, I find them very challenging.”

Jeff is an avid follower of artists John Yardley and Edward Seago, much admired by the Royal family. 

He says: “I join John Yardley every year at Dedham Village in the border of Essex and Suffolk for a watercolour painting week. I like the impressionist style very much, however, I also enjoy the challenge of painting a portrait as well.”

“Looking at their paintings I find very inspiring and it motivates me to get painting. I never thought I could paint watercolours and it would develop the way it has.

“For me, watercolours are very challenging as you have to think very carefully about how you go about creating a watercolour; it’s a very difficult medium to work with and you only have one opportunity to get it right. You have to concentrate a lot. 

“Is it relaxing? On the contrary, the planning is quite intense and involved; choosing your colours, setting, and so on. It can be quite stressful but it’s all part of it, it’s given me a lot of pleasure.”
A small selection of his beautiful watercolours and portraits now adorn the walls in the Bournemouth Jewellers, which changes regularly and creates quite a lot of interest.

“I haven’t decided to sell any yet but I hope to enter some exhibitions in the future.

“I also enjoy painting my own watercolour Christmas cards. I am a very messy painter, but I’m learning to be tidier now,” he chuckles.

“Painting has given me another interest outside jewellery which I love. It’s opened up a whole new world which I thoroughly enjoy and I will continue to paint because it is such an integral part of my life now.”

This November, Franses Jewellers are sponsoring the 60th Anniversary Diamond Gala Ball for Diverse Abilities. One of Jeff’s paintings from his 30-piece collection will be put up for auction. There will also be raffle to win a diamond pendant worth £5,500 to help raise funds for Dorset’s disability charity.