Frances Topping

Frances Topping

Drawing requires really seeing and understanding your subject. Frances’s education in science and her talent as an artist allow her to see not only all the detail in a natural landscape, but also to recognize its significance. This combination of science and art make her an excellent member of the Planning Commission

“I am not a lover of politics per se but feel it is important to serve in this capacity. Reasonable, sustainable development, and protection of open space and natural areas keeps in mind our water resources, farms, forest, beaches and businesses. I am open-minded and will listen to all sides in a question. I value reasoned civil debate on issues. I have served previously on the Charlestown Conservation Commission. My previous experiences have given me knowledge of the environment, helping to educate people about the importance of natural systems, our flora and fauna. I now depict much of this in my art hoping people will look more closely at their surroundings and value it above immediate monetary concerns as it is of prime importance to our future well being. Water is finite, we cannot use it irresponsibly, nor our forest and soils. We cannot keep taking too much, too quickly for immediate use; future generations rely on us to make good decisions. I will take the time to understand issues on which I will make decisions.”

Frances M. Topping – Planning Commission

Frances Topping, a Natural Science Illustrator, fine artist, educator and naturalist, combines her knowledge of science with her artistic talent to produce beautiful portraits of wildlife and natural landscapes. Frances has a broad world view and experience. She grew up in England and has lived in Canada and Ohio. Studying Geography gives an overall view of the physical, natural, economic and social environment. These things are not isolated items. She moved to Charlestown 14 years ago and found a “place of birdsong, and bountiful blooming wild laurels.” She is grateful to those who protected these areas in past years and wishes to serve again on the Planning Commission. “I treasure Charlestown’s rural atmosphere, its local independent stores – a Mini-Super par excellence, post office, hardware store, library, farmer’s market, great art gallery, dentists and doctors etc. as well as proximity to the ocean, clean beaches envied by many, salt ponds and marshes, lakes, rivers, woods and stone walls, enclosing farms and houses. Such a great combination begs for protection from over-development. Protection creates a healthy environment benefiting people and wildlife. This does not happen magically, someone or some entity needs to make sure it is in balance. The Planning Commission and the Town’s Comprehensive Plan are key to this. I hope to be a part of the future planning of Charlestown by serving on the Planning Commission again as I have for the past two years. ”


  • Bachelor of Science: Geography with Botany and Zoology, Sheffield University, England
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts: Graphic Design with Illustration and Photography, University of Akron, Ohio
  • Certificate in Natural Science Illustration, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
  • Training by the National Association for Interpretation and other institutions in the natural sciences

Professional Experience

  • Freelance self-employed artist and teacher. You can see some of Frances work at
  • Educator with Casey Farm and the Museum of Primitive Art and Culture, (part-time)
  • Award winning Interpretive Naturalist with Cleveland Metroparks, a major park system
  • Edited geography textbooks for Holt, Rinehart and Winston, a major publisher
  • Organized Second Wind: a program helping women re-enter the workforce
  • Graphic designer with an advertising agency

Public Service


  • Married to John Topping. John, a materials scientist, is retired from URI’s Division of Research and
    Economic Development, where he specialized in patents and licenses.
  • Frances and John have two children one of which lives in Charlestown with their two grandchildren.

On November 8th, please vote for Frances M. Topping for Charlestown Planning Commission