Frank Ritchie Jr. is an organized man with a plan, and his
artwork is a direct reflection of that.

With a style that reflects the French impressionists, Ritchie is
known for pointillism, in which tiny dots of color produce a
luminous effect.

Each point of color is carefully placed to create a harmonious
blending of color and landscape.

"You have to step back to see it, " Ritchie said.

"I walk back 10 feet and put one dot here and one dot there
and try to imagine. I want it to look as real as it looks in
nature. "

Each of Ritchie's paintings, now on exhibit at the Ormond
Beach Memorial Art Museum, has a distinct look.

The change of seasons is a theme, with fall colors exploding
on one canvas and the serene pastels and whites of winter on

The exhibit, "A Starry, Starry Night, " in its eighth year, runs
through Feb. 8.

It was coordinated by Very Special Arts of Volusia, a
nonprofit affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts, providing opportunities in the arts for
individuals with disabilities.

Ritchie's paintings - which are featured in the South Gallery of
the museum, shared by other artists with physical or mental
disabilities - reflect not only a level of artistic talent equal to
some mainstream artists, but also a large part of Ritchie's life.

Painting for Ritchie is a form of healing in a world that can
sometimes be overwhelming.

Suffering from schizophrenia since his 30s, Ritchie finds
solace in his art.

Schizophrenia, characterized by a separation between the
thought processes and the emotions, or a fragmentation of the
personality, can make daily life a challenge.

But for Ritchie, life has become a little easier to bear through
his art.

"When I started to use colors, it gave me a calmer feeling. As
I saw the colors mixing on the canvas, I became more
relaxed, " said Ritchie, 57.

When he was younger, art was "just to pass the time, " and it
wasn't until he was in his 40s that he became more serious.

While receiving counseling at ACT Corp., a local mental
health facility, Ritchie took art classes, said his art teacher,
Mary McDonald.

McDonald worked with Ritchie for two years, holding two
classes a week, and she saw him develop into a much more
productive person.

When the class started, McDonald said, Ritchie "would hardly
talk to people. He seemed so introverted. "

"He really evolved all by himself, " she said.

"The class gave him an opportunity to use something he had
all along and he didn't know it.

Art has done wonders for him. "

"We think it has helped him improve. Having a goal of that has
made him much better, " said his mother, Ethel.

To hear Ritchie, a native of New York, talk about his artwork
now is a reflection of this.

A bit nervous but well-spoken, Ritchie discusses his work in
detail and how it has become his life's joy.

The National Association for Research on Schizophrenia
and Depression has chosen several of his works to be printed
on note cards and a holiday card. The nonprofit organization
raises money for research through the sales of printed artwork
created by those who suffer from the illnesses.

"All of them have been very popular cards, " NARSAD
co-founder Hal Hollister said. "The holiday card called
'Silverscape' I think is one of the best we have ever done, " he
said, referring to one of Ritchie's snow scenes.

For more information on NARSAD Artworks go to:



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