Veronica Fernandez is a mixed-media artist based in Los Angeles, originally from New Jersey. Her work explores the intricate relationship between people and their environment, drawing from personal experiences to illustrate the complexities of everyday life. Using family photographs and art history, Fernandez creates pieces that blur the line between personal memories and collective nostalgia. Her deliberate transformation of the familiar into the unfamiliar emphasizes the fluidity of human emotions, and her open-ended narratives invite audiences to interpret her work for themselves. We spoke with Fernandez about her work, inspirations, ideal work day, and dream art retreat.
Tell us about your medium(s) of art.
My primary medium is oil painting right now. I work on large canvases and throw washes of acrylic paint around to try different color combinations and warm up. From there, I build layers in oil and start composing what goes where. I draw a lot and work with colored pencils, oil pastels, soft pastels, pencils, anything, really. Most of the time, I collage on them too! Sometimes I incorporate oil pastels into my paintings and wash them around to see what effects they have. Poetry is a medium that I’ve started incorporating into my earlier stages when creating a body of work, which, like my paintings, are inspired by my own experiences and emotions in the world. All influence one another and give different avenues to storytelling about the human condition.
Have you faced any challenges due to being a mixed-media artist?
I admire sculpture and have this urge to make things, but I haven't quite figured that out yet and want to take some time to explore what I could do. I’ve always loved textures and stitching material together, and when I go to a museum and see a great sculpture with such an interesting physicality, I’m like, “How does someone make something like that!!”. I’ve only recently explored working in different mediums, such as ready-made sculptures or smaller installations, so I'm excited to eventually get more hands-on and experimental. I love the work of Sarah Lucas and Dorothea Tanning’s soft sculptures right now, and I think I need to keep seeing more and being curious about different forms until something triggers something inside me that says, “Go!”. I also recently started getting into writing my own poetry, which can be a struggle when you constantly have noise buzzing inside your brain. I have to be completely alone with earplugs in to focus, and I sit for a little while to clear my thoughts, but sorting those internal voices out can be frustrating.
What are some aesthetic commonalities we can see throughout all or most of your work?
I would say texture, for sure! I enjoy working from the paint tube and gushing paint around to give it a very cakey texture, and in a lot of my pieces, I'll fill in objects or clothing by drawing on the canvas straight out of the tube. I also will have more rendered and detailed areas of paintings contrasting with washy more abstract elements to play with the illusion of being in a psychological space. Sometimes I will do this through patterns, details of people, or blocks of color.
How did your hometown and upbringing inspire your work?
I grew up hopping around many areas of Jersey with my father and siblings. My work has underlying themes that indicate some of what I’ve experienced. When I think about a lot of the events that have surrounded my life, I feel more connected to people and have a deep appreciation for the little things. On the other hand, I also find myself sometimes feeling completely disconnected as well. There's this constant back and forth about where I belong sometimes. I kept a lot of the fleeting feelings that came with doubt and unpredictability in my life with me, but I also tried to hold onto faith and trust in myself. I think a lot about internal fights people have with themselves and maybe where that could come from. In my figures, I see a lot of emotions at once and am constantly thinking about “what comes after this moment” for them. Somewhere along the way, I’ve found myself recreating worlds for these individuals to exist or to find a purpose for themselves, something that we all, at one point or another, try to find as well.
What are some of your other sources of inspiration?
I’m inspired by people who help their communities in any way they can or people in my life who move in love every day. Lately, I’ve planned out a lot more about how to help in little ways through my nonprofit as I grow. It’s a different feeling when you see people doing good for others. Like really on the ground showing up for others. Those selfless acts move me so much, and I know it's because, at times, I was once in positions where I needed that help, but acts of sharing with others and making others feel seen drive me.
What is your ideal work day?
I usually come in around 8 am, have some coffee, and set up some material from the day before to look at. I like to lay out whatever I left out the day before on a table, like photographs or sketches. I also like to look through books or walk around the room setting up my stuff while listening to some throwbacks, or I’ll sit for a bit before I roll on my chair over to the side of the room of the painting I'm working on and have at it for a few hours on and off until 10 pm. Lately, because I'm finally back in the studio after a busy few months of solo shows and fairs and whatnot, I’ve been looking at everything since I'm feeling inspired after attending some amazing shows in Europe. I feel excited about new colors I wanna try right now and come in to read a few chapters of books for a few hours or to look at poetry.
If you could go on a one-week retreat and make art anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Japan would be a great place to retreat, make art, and immerse in the culture. Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamed about what it would be like to go, and I still dream about it today. When I was a kid, I created manga nonstop on the life around me (the content was probably super goofy). Still, my first experience with consistently drawing and storytelling were through that little phase I had where I was obsessed with manga and anime. It would be cool to bring a sketchbook and do small drawings after a long day there or even write. Just thinking about being there feels super exciting and special.
Do you have a target audience for your work?
I don't have anyone in particular who I aim my work toward; when I create something, I want it to reach as many individuals as possible who are as different from one another as possible. Given the nature of my practice discussing the layers of people, it's really special to see who it can touch.
What is some advice you have for aspiring artists?
The best thing you can do for yourself and for your practice is to be as brave as possible and to move in the most honest ways possible, inside and outside of the studio. People can feel that good and gravitate toward you when you carry that devotion to being a better person. One thing I'm still learning is how to share myself with the world because that in itself can be scary. I know many artists who are afraid to share what they've created because of what others would think. But I’ve learned that when I show up for my practice with an open mind, curiosity, and acknowledgment that I'm learning, I feel growth no matter what I do. It makes me feel more confident in what I've created, and even better, I can have faith in the world I've created. I can trust myself. Celebrating your growth, even if it's 1% every day, and moving in gratitude keeps you motivated and driven for your practice. Your relationship with your art practice is too important and needs to be nurtured.
Keep up with Veronica Fernandez and her work via Instagram @ron.nie55.