June Artist of the Month | Loretta Fasan

Please help us welcome our June artist of the month, Loretta Fasan! She was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine’s 30th Annual Art Competition. Her painting, Birds of a Feather (oil, 30×24) is below. Keep scrolling to read about Fasan and her art techniques.

www.lorettafasan.com ~ Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, Canada

Birds of a Feather by Loretta Fasan

Birds of a Feather by Loretta Fasan

My paintings are a combination of realism, pattern, trompe l’oeil, and whimsy. I am strongly influenced by portraits and costumes from the past. I enjoy  painting female figures, at times mysterious, humorous, or serene, using intense or subtle colors, textures and gold-leaf patterns in the costumes. There is an iconic aspect to some of the women; however, it’s softened by their expressions. It’s exciting to see a character come to life through a combination of observation and imagination.

Though most of my work is carefully planned, I try to allow for spontaneity and the intangible: an  element of surprise. I work from life and imagination, using photos only as references, which I alter. I usually begin with an underpainting, building form and intensity of color gradually, yet always with the potential of adding an unexpected twist. The elaborate beadwork, hairstyles and ornaments are fun elements which help to create movement, richness, and give a sense of mystery to the paintings. Symmetry, proportion, pattern and geometry are some of the underlying elements of my paintings. Gold also has a spiritual significance for me. The gleam and warmth which emanates from gold adds an amber glow and a three-dimensional effect to the paintings. The challenge in using gold or metal leaf is to integrate the gold into an overall scheme, rather than having it stand out as a foreign element. Gold leaf also changes color and fluctuates under different lighting conditions, and takes on some of the color of its surroundings.

In Birds of a Feather, a whimsical fantasy relationship exists between the girl and the birds. The  elaborately painted gold headdress mimics the wings of birds, which suggested the title. The birds are busy with the lacework, they could be weaving it or taking it apart. The girl seeks to captivate the viewers with her expression, hinting at a story that we can only imagine.

This painting began with a warm tone washed onto the canvas and a rendering of the face only. The lace effect was visualized by looking through a piece of lace tablecloth at the face. I then decided to paint the lace as an undulating gold pattern all at once and added the birds for fun. The gauze fabric of the dress was also improvised and tied to the “wings” gold lacework with a trompe l’oeil gold ribbon. A cool gray was used for both the dress and the sky to create harmony.  Ultramarine and cobalt were added to the sky, and some of the sky color was scumbled onto the gold at the top of the head to create the illusion of the lace fading into the sky.

Thank you for sharing your work and process, Loretta! Isn’t this painting stunning? If you’d like to enter our competitions for opportunities like our artist of the month series, click here!