Santa Monica artist Carolyn Fernandez is a “foodie” as evidenced by its thematic presence in her whimsical, vibrant paintings, some of which are currently on display through February 15 in the Community Focus Gallery in the food court of Santa Monica Place.
This young, most talented artist was lucky enough to grow up with parents who nurtured her talent. Her mother is an accomplished painter whose work has been exhibited in New York galleries, and her dad worked in a bakery, giving Fernandez the art-food connection. “When I was a little girl,” Fernandez recalls, “my mother gave me a little corner of her studio. I began with finger paints covering more of me than the paper and eventually I moved on to markers, pencils and finally the brush.”
This young painter, who probably weighs in at less than 100 pounds, grew up on the East Coast in a house filled with goodies of all shapes and tastes. Her dad’s best friends owned an ice cream company, another a cheesecake factory. “When I opened the freezer, there were always rows of ice cream and cheesecakes of all flavors.” It was as a youngster that she started painting a variety of foods – everything from cupcakes to watermelon, which has become the signature look of her work.
Fernandez studied art at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. To further her art education, she lived in Italy for six months where she attended the Studio Arts Center International, immersing herself in Florence’s art and culture. “I was exposed to so many masters – the richness of the colors in their paintings had a profound effect on me, as well as the figure, which, on returning to the U.S., I incorporated into my work.” Her use of vibrant colors in her paintings is deliberate “to try to grab people’s attention,” adding, “Too much is never enough.”
Her work has been exhibited in galleries all over the country. She has won an assortment of prizes and paints every day in her studio except Sunday. She still uses paints she received as a prize for winning the Liquitex National Art Award in 1994, “One of the best prizes I ever received.”
It is not a big surprise that the “food connection” continued as Fernandez married Jeffrey Stoppler, owner of the Bergamot Café and Nook restaurants. She eats healthfully, and her once-poor cooking skills are definitely improving.
Fernandez is in the sketch phase of new works she is calling “Roman Holiday,” which is a vacation series that will include people picnicking, skiing, canoeing and engaging in other leisure activities.
How does Fernandez feel about the West Coast? “I’m fortunate to be here. There are so many galleries and events that it’s a great time to be an artist in Los Angeles.”
For information on Carolyn Fernandez, call 310.451.9808 or go to carolynfernandez.com.