Franie recently taught her first virtual art class on Tuesday, in collaboration with We Thrive Together Ohio. She taught people across the state how to draw, and paint a panda. 

Local artist uses paint to inspire community

GREENVILLE—When Francesca Shellabarger began painting as a child in Haiti, it was her solace.

“If I didn’t have art, I don’t know where I would be,” she said. “It would be hard. It brought me up, I grew up with it. It kept me going. I would’ve given up on myself without it.”

Franie, 24, was born with short limbs, and lived in an orphanage in Haiti until she was adopted at the age of 11, and moved to the United States.

“People didn’t interact with me,” she said. “I was a little girl who people didn’t interact much with. I had a piece of paper, and I would go in my room and start painting. Since then, I did it every time I got home after school. I didn’t know if I was going to go forward with it or not.”

While Franie began painting on paper, she now paints primarily on canvas, and enjoys blending colors, and painting florals and animals.

“I like to do different color paints, like blending colors,” she said. “I’ve started looking into different designs on YouTube.”

A lot of her art includes words of inspiration, like “Be stronger,” and, “Shine bright.” Which Franie said is her way of using art to inspire others.

“I like to add words of inspiration,” she said. “I want to help other people by sharing my art and words of inspiration.”

After she realized her passion, Franie reached out to Darke DD to see if she could spread the word.

“We really help people identify their interests, gifts, and talents, and then find ways that they can gain experience, meet other people who have those same interests and kind of just grow in that area,” Sue Huston, Community Connections & Advocacy Coordinator at Darke County DD said. “We didn’t have to identify, Franie already knew that she loved to paint, and be an artist. Franie and I met, and she said, ‘What can you do for me, so that you can help me expand? I want people to know about my art.'”

After that conversation, Franie took a one-day art class with some of her fellow Darke DD members, and recently she rented a table top at the Mini Mall of All, where she sells her art.

She didn’t stop there, Franie recently taught her first virtual art class on Tuesday, in collaboration with We Thrive Together Ohio. She taught people across the state how to draw, and paint a panda.

“Nobody said I was going to be worth it,” she said. “Nobody said I was going to be anything, but look at me now. My, oh, it’s going good. I’m making something for myself. It doesn’t matter how different you are, if you have short limbs, always know there’s somebody that’s going to have your back one day, that’s going to see that you’re worth it.”

To purchase or inquire about Franie’s art check out her table top at the Mini Mall of All, at 311 S. Broadway St., Greenville, Ohio, or check out her instagram page. In addition to words of inspiration, animals and florals, she also paints custom pieces too.

For any questions on Darke DD follow the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DarkeDD, or contact Huston at sueh@darkedd.org.

Some of Franie's recent artwork.
Frasnie taught people across the state how to draw, and paint a panda on Tuesday. 

Abigail Miller / Editor

Abigail Miller is a Greenville native, Kent State graduate, writer, crocheter, shopaholic and friend. Contact Darke County Now Reporter Abigail Miller at amiller@darkecountynow.com.

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