Artist Interviews 2022

Francesca Quintano  
By Laura Siebold

Francesca Quintano is an L.A.-based artist who showcases a broad range of skills in her portfolio. Her classical art education shows in her proficient use of oil colors and the dedication to her craft. While producing a large body of murals for corporate clients, Francesca has developed a very unique and personal style, largely influenced by her experiences and exposure to art in Europe during her childhood and teen years. In her interview, Francesca talks about her fascination “with cluttered chaotic natural elements”, her figurative work, special interactions with viewers and some of her favorite projects to this day.

Francesca, thanks so much for doing this interview with us! What are you most excited to tell us about?

Thank you for interviewing me! I am always excited to talk about my work, I am so passionate and constantly moved by what people in the creative field do, it’s easy to talk about.

When did you first start experimenting with different materials and creating art? Was there a specific moment in your life when you identified yourself as an artist?

I have been painting my whole life, it was really at 14 that I really started experimenting and decided to pursue a career in art. I think I knew then that I was an artist, everyone identified me as one, it actually wasn’t until about 5 years ago, when I solely supported myself from art, that I would verbally identify as one.

Your body of work features a wide range of materials. What is your favorite material to work with?

I do work with many materials, some I wish I could more, such as encaustic or copper plate etching. Till the day I die though, oils are my favorite. There is nothing that comes close to the depth of color and the feel of manipulating the paint.

You’ve created many murals throughout your career. Can you tell us about your fascination of exhibiting your art in public spaces? What kind of subjects do you address with your murals?

I have had the privilege of working on many murals with many talented artists. My mural career has been mainly client/corporate based projects. Many of these clients are large businesses (the Clippers, Gucci, Netflix etc.), these businesses have preexisting branding and designs, so myself and sometimes a team of artists are brought in to facilitate their vision to a large scale. What I enjoy about this work is that its problem solving, and the fact that I am not emotionally attached to the design; I am able to focus on just technique. There is also something nice to be said for taking a break from my own work, and being able to tackle a straightforward project, not to mention I love driving a boom lift.

You’ve received a classic oil painting education. What are the influences you still draw from this education to this day and how do you incorporate those lessons into your art?

I received a combination of a classical art education, mentorship from the age of 14, and personal self-exploration. Having spent years of my childhood moving around Europe, I had firsthand access to art institutions, exposing me to artists that I would later study at a college level. There is an undercurrent of influence from great artists I experienced, from Caravaggio to Goya, which in still reference in my art today.

I have retained both conceptual and technical lessons from my education. A wonderful example of this is when I was living in Madrid when I was about 8, my art teacher would take me to the Prado to see the Velasquez paintings, and she would sit me down and have me draw Las Meninas in the style of Picasso. This thinking has remained with me to this day. On the more technical side, my mentor throughout high school and college was the one who showed me how to properly care for brushes, store paint, what tricks can be used, what mediums to avoid, the various ways to mix black. There is a very poetic and almost alchemical way to approach oils.

Your work combines abstract and photo surrealistic elements. How do you make this combination work in your art?

I approach painting from a very streamlined point of view, from the idea to brush on panel to the end. All my pieces start with a photo, whether it be straightforward, or 50 pictures stitched together. I have always had a fascination with cluttered chaotic natural elements, such as dense plant life, or light refraction through water. These elements inherently lend themselves to surrealist imagery. Other times I pair something organic and textured (heart, skull, scorpion) and set it against a stark clean background or shape; allowing the subject matter the space to breathe.

Please describe one of your favorite interactions you’ve had with viewers. How did this experience change you?

I have [had] two very different experiences that really changed me. The first was my first solo show at 21 years old, and I was on the side people watching. The body of work was all figurative work, underwater, the head above water and distorted, the neckline and top of breasts floating, lots of color, very serene. I was eves dropping on this couple, and the woman was saying how of course a man painted this, she’s grossed out, there’s no face, and you see cleavage, etc. etc. The gallery owner walked up to them and proceeded to walk them to me…the artist, at the same moment the gallery owner divulged to them all the paintings are self-portraits. It was interesting being the fly on the wall.

The other very different experience was at Lightning in a Bottle years ago, I did one of my favorite paintings ever live. This work was part of the same body of underwater portraits. I was in my own world, it was nighttime, I had been painting without a break for about 4 hrs. When I stopped, I stood up and turned and there are about 15 people tripping and watching me paint for hours. There was something heartwarming about being the chosen entertainment.

Can you name an influential personality in the art field who inspires you to this day? What kind of inspiration do you draw from this person for your own art?

It was after seeing the Basquiat show at MOCA that I truly decided that I would be an artist, as well. What appear to be carefree markings, are in fact brilliantly and thoughtfully placed [and] that juxtaposition appeals to me. Whether it is factual or not, the story of Basquiat meeting Warhol by selling postcards is a fantastic legend to follow. No risk, no reward.

What has been your favorite project to this day and why?

This is an extremely tough question, I have had so many wonderful projects of my own, and those that I have done with others, even just production jobs. One of my favorite projects was doing production on Beyond The Streets; I was able to be hands on with so many different aspects, learning lots of new things, constantly being challenged, as well as being able to work with iconic artists one on one. As for projects of my own, the painting I am currently working on feels like the epitome of all my skills coming to fruition at once. I am already proud of it.

What has been your favorite opportunity to exhibit your art? What kind of advice do you have for a newly emerging artist?

Group shows at Thinktank were really fun. I was showing with friends, and we had huge parties, what better way to show your art. The most important thing I tell young artists is you need to be consistent, treat your art career like a 9-5, show up to work even if you don’t want to. If you just sit on your studio floor (me constantly), at least you showed up. Ultimately though, if I could leave anyone who is emerging in their art career some advice, it would be... ignore the fear, try it all, take the risks, be ok with failing, you will always get back up.

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