Frank Haggerty, a lifelong resident of Lawrenceville, could be called a renaissance man. He is an award winning photographer and juried artist in oil and charcoal mediums. He owned his own photography studio, taking wedding photos as well as elementary and middle school portraits. Two and a half years ago he published his first book titled “With Strings Attached: a story,” which is about a boxer in Trenton. Five years ago he started to take piano lessons. His current passion is creating pen and ink sketches.
“I switched from painting in oil to watercolors about three to four years ago,” explains Haggerty. “I was tired of the mess with the turpentine. I liked to draw more than paint. I draw and paint from life, instead of from photographs.”
Haggerty is a United State Air Force and Vietnam War veteran who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Rider University in accounting and public administration. He is also a prostate cancer survivor. As he was recovering from cancer, he found he was losing interest in working on the large oil paintings, but still enjoyed sketching.
“A lot of people, when they sketch, they sketch in pencil. I sketch in ink. My finished work has ink in it. I like pen and ink in watercolors. It shows more depth and detail and separates the foreground from the background,” explains Haggerty.
Haggerty’s sketches can be described as whimsical. They are not exact photographic images of what he sees. Instead, he takes snippets of what he sees to help the eye recognize the image he depicts. For example, instead of drawing every brick on the façade of a brick building, he draws a few in a couple of different blocks to hint make the person looking at the drawing recognize it is a brick building. This keeps the images simpler.
On July 1st, Haggerty took on a personal challenge – to create a sketch a day. On a day when he is busy, or not in the mood, this might mean a quick 20 minute sketch of a household object. On days when inspiration is striking, he spends up to an hour on his sketch. Sometimes he adds touches of colors, other times the sketches are left black and white. This is in addition to working on larger watercolors.
Haggerty shared some of his images with us. He is most excited about the whimsical map he created of Lawrenceville Main Street. He created his 11x17 inch map over a two week period through an online class. Talking to him, he is as excited about what he learned during the class as he is about his finished product.
About the only form of art Haggerty does not do is sculpture. I say give him some time and he will take that up, too.