"True second chances in life are few and far between"
My formal studies began at Syracuse University with a BFA in painting with honors, and postgraduate study at the Sorbonne in Paris, France at the L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
At age 60 I completed the Post Baccalaureate program at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA. I was subsequently awarded the honor of an Alumni Fellow studio at PAFA for two years.
I established my art career exhibiting and selling at the Raymond Duncan Gallery in Paris, and later at the Henry Howells Gallery in New York City’s SoHo.
In my mid-20’s, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis*. Upon my diagnosis, I moved from Paris to the United States with my French husband and young son. I was fortunate to get gallery representation at Henry Howells Gallery in New York City. In a few short years my young art career started to take shape, and I secured exclusive representation through the gallery. Over the next several years, my work sold well and people began collecting my artwork. The gallery invited me to prepare for my first big one woman show.
Shortly thereafter my life and world upended. A severe MS attack suddenly hit both of my hands. They were numb except for excruciating nerve pain. I couldn’t hold a fork let alone a paintbrush. I will always remember that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I gave the gallery the bad news – there wouldn’t be any show since I couldn’t even hold a pastel without crushing it.
A year of intensive physical therapy restored many primary functions in my hands, but the more “delicate” sensations for textures, wet or dry, did not return. I accepted the painful reality that my art career was over.
I no longer even wanted to look at art anymore; it was just too disheartening. I decided to return to graduate school. I completed all the course work for a Master’s in Counseling Psychology at Villanova University and subsequently earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.
I established private practice in Bala Cynwyd, PA as a LCSW for psychotherapy. I used complementary mind-body-spirit drawing interventions with my clients. Surprisingly and indirectly, this returned me to painting, my first love, after an almost 30 year absence.
True second chances in life are few and far between. Recognizing this, I knew I needed to devote all of my time and energies to my artistic endeavors, especially because I never thought I would paint again. I ultimately closed my private practice in order to dedicate myself full time to my art.
With fresh eyes and a renewed spirit, my painting is making a significant shift which continues to evolve. As my health changes, my life changes and my art changes. As a result of this new perspective on life and art, I've chosen to be known as Francine Renée Schneider, using both my original given first and middle names in my art work. Renée in French translates into the word reborn and defines who I am now and what my work and life represents.
My work is currently held in private collections in Paris, New York City, Philadelphia, Augusta and Atlanta, among others.
*According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that causes damage to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Symptoms can be mild, such as numbness in the arms and legs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. Although research is ongoing, so far there is no cure.