Jannette Emmerick, The West Georgian

Ana Fernandez: Blackwell Prize Artist and Urban Landscape Naturalist

Winner of UWG’s Blackwell Prize in Painting, Ana Fernandez drove from San Antonio, Texas to share her photo realistic art with Carrollton and Newnan community on Sept. 20 and 23.

With a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and a Masters of Painting from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Fernandez has received many opportunities to showcase her art in several exhibitions over the years. Fernandez has received multiple awards including the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant.

“There’s a few other accolades that I’ve gotten that get you into shows and it just kind of snowballs,” says Fernandez, “Once you’re in one show, you get into others.”

Inspired by the world around her and utilizing photography, Fernandez recreates picturesque scenes in watercolor and frescoes among other mediums.

“The inspiration of the subject matter are just things I’m interested in. I used to draw cars for a long time; the convenience store, that’s where I used to go when I was a kid; landscapes,” says Fernandez. “Sometimes there’s a lot of thought behind what I’m painting, but really, it’s where I am. I’m gonna paint what’s around me.

Oftentimes, Fernandez uses several methods to trace, or project photos onto her canvas and outlines the general shapes before coloring them in. For frescos, or plastered mural-like works of art, Fernandez uses a technique called cartone, which originated in the Renaissance.

“What they would do is make their drawing first on paper and then they dust it with red dust on the back And then they put it on [the wall], so when you peel it off, you have a tracing,” says Fernandez. “That’s where the word cartoon comes from.”

“So when people say ‘you’re tracing it’ or whatever, that’s the way Michangelo did it,” continues Fernandez.

For local artists like Fernandez, the tangible world at their fingertips lends the greatest information and inspiration, this leads to not just creating great art, but also immortalizing a memory or moment in time.

“People, places and things that are in my vicinity. Almost like a document, I want to document the area,” says Fernandez.

Much like history books or novels, art serves to document an instance in time no matter how mundane or seemingly unimportant. For Fernandez, she captures local businesses, restaurants and other sites especially within the Latino community and her own neighborhood which go through substantial change in short periods of time.

“Sometimes I think: ‘Why am I painting this? It’s always here?’” says Fernandez. “Then ten years later it’s gone or someone else has moved in and changed the business. I’ve been able to document these places that are gone.

“Sometimes the families of those restaurants will ask if they can have a picture of it,” continues Fernandez. “Or they will say, ‘that’s my dad’s tire shop, he passed away five years ago, I would love a print’ or ‘thank you for seeing it and painting it.’”

Despite the temporality of an ever-changing city with updating technology and cycling businesses, Fernandez offers a permanent memory for posterity.

“Better than a photo. It’s almost like I’m writing something, but I’m writing what I see,” says Fernandez.

Fernandez compares her work to a naturalist in the science field, biologists or observers who go into the wilderness to paint or draw wildlife around them, capturing moments in nature.

“I go, ‘oh, I like this convenient store,’ I’m going to paint it like a landscape but I’m not living out in the wild, I’m living in a city, so I’m painting my landscape: my cityscape,” says Fernandez.

Fernandez’s work captures the man-made urban landscape in a way that reflects her roots and documents a glimpse into a world otherwise forgotten.

Fernandez’s art can be viewed at her website at https://anafernandez.com.



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