So I've written about this bloke before, but never had the good fortune of speaking with him about his work and processes up until now. Here's a little catch-up in case you missed it: In my last feature on local Houstonian artist Rene Fernandez, I noted that he's a self taught artist and self proclaimed music junkie, he cites Caravaggio and Salvador Dali as influences, and of course he's the artist behind that incredible Numbers mural here in Houston. His style is primarily surrealist, with a trademark three-dimensionality that makes it easy to pick his work out of a line up regardless of medium or subject matter, which can vary tremendously from piece to piece.
I caught up with Rene a few weeks ago as he was working on a series of works for the Star Wars Festival (you can see progress pictures in the gallery at the end of this post), and had a quick peek into the mind of this intriguingly quirky guy....
Tell me a little about this project (star wars pieces), how did they come about?
I heard of the Star Wars Art Festival when it first began, over 4yrs ago. I thought it would be a great event to show my art in, also being that I'm a fan.
Talk me through your creative process, how long did these 2 paintings take, how did you get started, what's the first thing you do when starting a piece etc.?
My two recent pieces took me a little over month to complete. I usually start with an idea, then sketch it out. I then re-draw the final idea onto canvas in full detail. Then begin the sculpting part (if particular piece requires it) then the oil painting starts.
How do you balance being an artist with a full time job?
It's been very challenging having a job and also pushing my art. I work as an Industrial Mechanic in the oil field, therefore, I travel a lot. The plus side to that is, I get huge breaks in between. So, I try and do what I can, as many art shows, or just paint as much as I can. I do tend to miss out on so many exhibitions when I'm away, so that sucks sometimes.
How would you describe your style?
I would consider my style with my original pieces to be Surrealism.
How did you get into mural painting?
Mural painting wasn't something I really did before my Numbers project. After constantly seeing the Numbers' wall in it's condition, I started envisioning something cool to attract and show what Numbers is to many who hadn't been, I guess.
I read somewhere that you actually approached the Numbers owner about painting a mural on the building, is that true?
My good friend Lloyd Smith (who bartends at Numbers) and I had been talking about the outer building needing a makeover. So, after talks about it, I offered to do some art,.. I whipped up a sketch, which he showed to Rudi, the owner, and it went from there. I began working on it during one of my long breaks from work, with the help of my girlfriend Brynn. I also worked on more art throughout the Numbers building after completed the large mural.
Is that how you get a lot of your work, by creating your own opportunities?
I guess because I do well with my regular job, I do art for the love of it. I do wish I could do art full time and nothing else, but fear that when I mix the two together (job+art), something will be lost. Right now I feel joy and more openness to paint what I feel and want, create my own style and experiment, and not feel enslaved or forced, for monetary reasons. Most of my opportunities have been through word of mouth, many close friends recommending me, or people seeing my stuff at a show.
What's your favorite medium?
Throughout my life I've learned many mediums, from airbrushing, sculpting, mold making, to oil painting, which is where I am most comfortable, I feel that's where I can get my ideas out in full detail.
What's your favorite subject matter to paint?
Depending on my mood, I sometimes paint about society, it's effects on the soul, religious views, and sometimes historic things, or mythological . ..whatever's on my mind at moment I guess.
What are your biggest influences as an artist?
My biggest influences have been my dad, my brother ( who taught me things on sculpting), and famous artists like Caravaggio, Dali, DaVinci..etc.