For Stansbury Park residents Camilla and Dustin Frank, dreams are indeed beautiful, usually vibrant and often visual.
Inside the Frank’s newly-appointed home office, it’s easy to see what motivates them. Trademark bouquets of vivid watercolor flowers frame the pink and turquoise floral papered walls. The furniture boasts the hues of oceans, grass, sunflowers, and tangerines — colors so different and yet so intentional. Containers of paintbrushes double as decor. A well-used paint palette and jar of water stand ready to turn crisp white paper into striking works of art.
“I like bright colors,” Camilla said, understating what’s already stated so poignantly in her home. “Color in general is a really important thing to me. I’ve more than once thought about how lucky I am to be able to see.”
For Camilla, color equals happiness, gratitude and the opportunity to share her eclectic and often whimsical style with others through a growing small business venture dubbed The Blue Barn — a modern twist on the semi-rural surroundings of Tooele Valley.
The endeavor is a creative leap that the Franks took almost five years ago when they decided to stop wishing and start living their dream instead.
“I’m good with color and have a good eye for design” Camilla said. “Dustin is a really great graphic designer, but I add my input to it and we complement each other in our skills. We work well together.”
A creator since childhood, Camilla said there’s not much she hasn’t dabbled in.
“I’ve always liked to make things — like create,” she said. “I learned cross-stitch in high school. Cooking is sometimes an outlet. I hate dishes though. I’d rather clean up painting than dishes. My friend and I, in high school, we would learn how to do things like make candles.”
Then came college, and while she didn’t study art solely, she was drawn to take as many classes as she could on the subject. After came marriage, motherhood and managing life and all its challenges.
“For years I didn’t do much painting,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dustin was working at a job that he liked, but that didn’t possess the creative aspects that he was destined for, according to Camilla.
“We started talking about what he would want to do, what we want to do, what we could do. What would be our dream?” Camilla said. “I want to make him happy. I want him to go to work and enjoy himself.”
Then the conversation turned to the community where Camilla was born and raised and where they are now raising their four children.
“We started talking about our valley and what we felt like it needed,” Camilla said. “There’s not a lot of culture out here, but there are plenty of people who want culture. There are a lot of artists. You can’t go two houses without finding a photographer, or someone who paints, or decorates their home or sews.”
So the idea of a local art gallery began incubating. Land in Lake Point just off of state Route 36 already lays in waiting.
“But we recognize that that’s not going to pay the bills,” Camilla said. “People don’t really spend a lot of money on art. So we thought we’ll open a gallery and we’ll also hold events in that place. We came up with the name The Blue Barn.
“I can picture it in my head. You walk into this really modern blue barn — a modern art gallery where we would showcase local artists and artisans and just give them a place to really let people know they exist,” she said. “And then you go through to studios, where people could learn various types of art — pottery, design, all kinds of things. And not just by us. We would rent those out to local artists.”
While the actual brick and mortar is still a ways out from reality, The Blue Barn has already made a name for itself.
“I started an Instagram account with more artistic things,” Camilla said. “I had posted what is now called Danielle’s flowers and a friend bought it. And I thought, ‘Hey’s that’s pretty fun. I like that.’ And I started painting more.”
Meanwhile, Dustin, a talented sketch artist and graphic designer, decided to take Camilla’s original watercolor paintings and digitized them in a process called vectorizing, which essentially removes the brush strokes and enabled the Franks to sell prints to interested parties.
These ventures have snowballed into other artistic avenues as well. A conversation about their fledgling business led to a commission by a Bountiful-based interior design firm to create custom art for a Parade of Homes entry in Utah County. A company called Fly Fish Food in Orem hired The Blue Barn to create a custom mural for the interior of the store, large window clings for the exterior, and additional advertising and merchandising art.
Additional murals have been done in multiple homes and an office space. Now the Franks have figured out how to take Camilla’s paintings and turn them into custom wedding announcements for clients. They also dabble in floral design and are pursuing putting their colorful mark on a line of fabric.
“I’m not trying to sound really awesome, because I’m not, but if someone came to us and wanted something, I think we could pretty well take care of what they need as far as artistry is concerned,” Camilla said. “When you can do the fine art and the graphic art, there’s not a whole lot you can’t figure out.”
That’s the creator mentality.
As if the task of starting a small business isn’t enough, Camilla shares her love of art regularly to the developing generation. Two years ago she started teaching art part time at Stansbury Park Elementary School.
“I was at a PTA meeting and the principal side mentioned that the art teacher that they had planned for the following year had backed out in the last minute,” Camilla said. “And I thought, ‘Why not. That sounds fun.’”
Not wanting to take too much time away from other children still at home, Camilla talked a friend and fellow creative mind into co-teaching with her.
“There are always the kids who want to pretend that they don’t like art,” she said. “I’m not going to pretend that it’s everyone’s favorite, but everyone likes some form of art, whether it’s design, architecture, painting, sewing or fashion. Everyone likes something that has to do with art, so I try teach them that.
“I try to tease the kids who are too cool for art and try and get them on board,” she said. “I know it’s really important to expose kids to a wide variety of artists and styles. I think that we as human beings, the more that we see different perspectives the more we can recognize the goodness in our lives. I feel like as the kids recognize how these artists are different and have different styles they can feel more comfortable with their unique personalities and styles.”
The art lessons don’t stop once the final recess whistle blows in May. Camilla offers art camp in her husband’s hijacked tool shed, now fondly referred to as the art barn.
“I think sports are great, but they aren’t for everyone,” Camilla said. “With The Blue Barn another thing we felt strongly about was to give an opportunity for people to come that haven’t found their niche. If you have that area where you are comfortable, confident and creative, you are happier. You are less likely to be miserable when you have that outlet.”
While The Blue Barn isn’t a full-time endeavor yet for the Franks, they hope in time it will be — all the woes of owning a small business included.
“It’s not our bread and butter yet,” Camilla said, adding that they are experiencing some of the challenges of morphing a hobby into a job. “When it’s just a hobby it’s your choice, always. But sometimes if you have projects that you are expected to do, then it’s not just the pressure; it’s that strange psychological I’m-not-choosing-to-do-this, I-have-to-do-this kind of a thing. We haven’t hit that home-run yet, but we are having a lot of fun trying.”