I was born in Dublin, Ireland.  I always loved to draw and paint.  All my family were artistic in art, music, making musical instruments and involved in Traditional Irish music. I went to a secondary school (High School) which only had 30 pupils.  My claim to fame there, was that I was the best artist and I got called on when anything artistic was needed.

I felt very happy about this, but when I was 14 my hands started shaking badly, I felt it was because I was so shy and nervous. (It devastated me as people kept asking me why I was shaking!  I remember going home many times and locking myself in my room crying!)

My first job at 18 was painting textile prints and was very detailed. It’s funny but all my jobs in my life involved painting.

I came to America years ago because there weren’t that many jobs in Ireland. My husband, two young children, Jenny 5, and Garry, 12, and I all settled in Connecticut. We brought one suitcase each and slept on the floor in the apartment we rented, until we got ourselves work.

It was hard getting used to a new country but at the same time exciting.  My husband and I started a business doing decorative painting, it was fun and we painted in various places, especially in Manhattan, Fifth Ave, Greenwich and other wealthy areas.

The shaking in my hands continued and eventually I went to a neurologist and was told I had something called ‘Essential Tremor’. I was so glad and relieved finally to have a name for what I had! I took medicine which worked great at first but then my hands started to shake again. 

I got a job at a book publishers in Westport making children’s books.  I loved this job. I was called a comp artist and only used an x-acto knife to do precise cutting to make dummy books.  I tried to hide my shaking hands and I did a good job – well I think so, anyway ha ha!.

I painted on canvas and watercolours, loved painting animals, horses, fairies, and I love Celtic art etc. I did a lot of art shows.

When I lived in Ireland, my mom and I sold our art at Merrion Square in Dublin at the weekends - it was fun when it didn’t rain and the excitement when we sold something was great.

I sold pet portraits and I was good at painting the eyes but my hands shook a lot and it took me extra time to get them right.

I am now doing illustrations for the Daily Mews website, which I love and it has always been my dream to illustrate.

It probably takes me much longer to paint than a person who doesn’t have ‘essential tremor.’ Painting on the computer art programs is especially hard as my hand jumps when I am painting a line and I have to try many times to get it as perfect as I can.

But I am doing my dream job!  I think it is funny sometimes (and ironic) that I was given the gift to paint and then have a shaky hand. When I see people on YouTube paint without any problem and I have to redo my drawings many times to get them as perfect as I can, I feel that they are so lucky!

I know most people have problems in some way and I will tell them not to give up on their dream and to just keep trying.

Three years ago I got remarried to Michael who has made me an art room in our house so I feel very lucky. I love to garden as well. We have a cat called Binky, lots of wild birds and two turkeys who come for their treats every day, a skunk and hundreds of cute chipmunks.  I see a doe with her two fawns prancing around in the back garden every other day …

You can Google my name to see some more of my art and I have an online shop at Etsy.com.

www.etsy.com/shop/ArtByFrances

Thank you for reading my story!

You can find Frances on Facebook: Frances Gillotti

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