Framing Our Future Interview: Heloise O’Keeffe and Francesca Ciudano

Heloise is an artist based in London. Her work is predominantly based around the human form. She first became fascinated by life drawing when she began her studies in Amsterdam while living there for a year. After moving back to the UK and wanting to pursue her studies she went on to study the Sight-size technique at Sarum Studio, Atelier of Fine Art in Salisbury, Wilshire, and later at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA). Heloise’s work has been exhibited all over the UK and she has recently been selected as a finalist for the BCA Awards 2022.  

Francesca is an Italian artist and sound therapist based in Dubai. As a self-taught painter, her work is not conditioned by rules, but is unfiltered and expressive. She treats art-making as a spiritual practice. Francesca left an international corporate career, tirelessly built over 25 years, to pursue art. She is now a full-time abstract painter on a mission to revolutionise how art is viewed, and to highlight its benefits for mental and emotional wellbeing – a life philosophy she named Beingfullness™. Her work is included in private collections around the world. 

Having chatted extensively about our lives and artistic backgrounds, we launched into our interview… 

What’s been the biggest driver compelling you to create works over the last couple of years? 

HO: The biggest driver for me this year is to be braver and bolder with my work.  Because of Covid, my style and process changed. I could no longer work from sittings but had to make do with photographs or zoom. Now I work predominantly like this and love it! Being able to work with models all over the world now inspires so much of my work and has pushed my work in ways which it wouldn’t have done before.   

FC: I would say trauma and being in the unknown. Additionally, to Covid and everything that came with it, I had already initiated into a journey of self-discovery and a 360-degrees life change. Throughout this time, art became my spiritual practice, a way to receive answers and to heal. 

Ok…so moving on from lockdown ….What advice would you give to artists just starting out?    

HO: Take time to find your voice in the artworld, it’s loud and messy and you can get lost very easily in it. But stay truthful to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.  

FC: I would give three pieces of advice, which have been pivotal for me.  

  1. Authenticity. The most important one is to love what you are doing and be free from conditioning. Let your soul came out to express through whatever medium you are drawn to. As a self-taught artist I came to the realization that collectors can feel the energy behind an artwork and are more emotional connected to that, then a perfect technic. The mastery of making art is to know the self and let it free to express.  
  2. Empowerment! Learn how to promote yourself and your work. Personal branding, marketing, content creation, PR are things which will help tremendously to reach your target audience, build your presence and sell your work. 
  3. Community. Join an art group, like Artcan, to find the support system needed. Be generous also offering the help you can. 

There’s a question here….What do you find most interesting about other Women’s art work? 

HO:  The stories behind how they got there. How they made it as an artist, who inspires them, what materials and techniques they use. There needs to be more female artists who continue to inspire each other and act as role models for each other. It is why I am so grateful to be part of this exhibition, it is important to celebrate each other and have these conversations. 

FC:  I’m not sure I am drawn to art made by women in particular. I’m just drawn to art – which gender definition is behind that doesn’t really matter.  

Which artists are you watching right now? 

HO: Right now, I absolutely love the work of Yulia Bas. There’s something so raw and honest about her work. I love the fragmented textures in her pieces and her exploration of self and identity is beautiful. Another artist I love at the moment is Charmaine Watkiss. She works predominantly with pencil on paper and creates these beautiful narrative-based drawings, also exploring identity within her work. And of course, an artist who I’ve been inspired by ever since I discovered life drawing is, Jenny Saville. For me her work shows the truest depiction of what it is to be human. She will always be a source of inspiration.  

FC:  I find the question about other artists always difficult to answer. I don’t “watch” other artists…I consume a lot of content on social media every day and am visually attracted to abstract work. When it comes to timeless love, then I go back to Hilma af Klint, Miro, Kandinsky. I find in their work a truth that brings me back to my own spiritual practice.   

What do you wish you had been told about navigating the business side of the art world? 

HO: How to market and promote yourself. I don’t feel very confident when it comes to this at all, and I still don’t! There are so many amazing platforms out there now to do this, it’s about being creative and using them to authentically represent who you are as an artist. 

FC:  I’m actually glad that my art journey has started after 20+ years of business and marketing experience. This is helping me a lot to navigate the art world, create connections, build a personal brand and connect with collectors around the world. I just wish I had more time to do all is in my head.  

What works are you most excited about creating in the near future? / What’s coming up for you in 2022? 

HO:  I am really excited about creating some bigger works. I am in the middle of working with a model in Japan at the moment, and together we are working on some much bigger pencil and charcoal pieces. I love working in pencil and charcoal and really want to see how far I can push my work using these two materials 

FC: I have started experimenting with collages and wall sculptures, also purchased a 3m canvas as I’m super excited that I finally have a studio space. Working on an NFT collection while researching how to offset the carbon footprint, as this is critical for me. Moreover, I’m working in putting together a program of art for healing bringing together the learnings of my last 6-years journey into a practice which I hope can help many others. 

So final question……Are you conscious of being a role model? 

HO: Absolutely. I don’t always feel young girls have that many female role models to look up to, and I think social media can be a very toxic place for this sort of thing. I am conscious not only as an artist but also because of my subject matter. Body image, mental health, and female empowerment are all issues I continue to explore in my work. There is still so much to do and so many more conversations to be had. It will always be an integral part of my practice.   

FC: I do. My collectors remind me every time they send me a message or buy a piece. Most of them purchased my work as they know about how I changed life, trading a successful career to art, and a glamours life for the unknown. Questioning societal conditioning and expectations to follow my intuition and to reclaim the path back home. I viscerally hope that my work can inspire many others to find their full life potential and live by it.  

You can see more about Heloise and Francesca at: and 

and follow their journeys on Instagram via: @fciaudano/ and @heloiseokeeffe/