Interview: Natalia Fabia

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design, Natalia Fabia began showing her art in group exhibitions around Los Angeles in the early 2000’s, establishing herself as a contender in the figurative painting arena. Using her surroundings and life as a rich garden of inspirations, Fabia began making colorful, sultry scenes filled with people, lush environments, ornate fashion, light, interiors, glamour, graffiti, landscapes, punk rock music and an unapologetic sexiness entirely her own.

Fabia finds a genuine comfort and truth in the realness and imperfections within her subjects. She glorifies the individuality and unique aspects of her human figures. Hers is a colorful world celebrating the vibrant diversity and beauty of the life she lives and that exists around her. Painting, she feels, exists to allow artists to create any world they want – make it, and make it yours. Infused with Fabia’s signature style, vividly saturated candy color palettes and a dazzling spectrum of light, her work is a combination of fantasy narratives and actual moments captured from the artist’s life.

Influenced by artists the likes of Henri Toulouse Lautrec, John William Waterhouse, John Singer Sargent, Rebecca Campbell, Lisa Yuskavage etc., plus fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, Fabia’s painterly studies in oil are marked by bold, determined strokes that offer depth and clarity. Having studied with many contemporary masters, her knowledge and understanding of the color palette underscore her ability to bring life and light to canvas.

Fabia's work has been featured in numerous galleries including Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York, The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco, Q Art Salon in Santa Ana, and M Modern in Palm Springs. Museum exhibits include Bristol Museum of Art, MXW Masterworks group exhibition at Long Beach Museum of Art and Lancaster Museum of Art.

She has been featured in Juxtapoz, New York Arts magazine, Hi Fructose, Art Ltd., and Angeleno Magazine. Fabia was featured in LA Weekly’s 2010 People Issue as one of “LA’s 100” most fascinating people. Born in 1983, Natalia Fabia is of Polish descent and was raised in Southern California, where she graduated class of 2006 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Fabia has had multiple solo shows and is represented by Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. Fabia currently works from her studio in Costa Mesa, CA.

When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

Gosh. I think since I was very young.

Well, I honestly cannot remember a day that art was not in my life. I was always around it because my parents were both artists. But I do remember one day when I was about three. I went to my dad and asked him to draw me a girl and I watched his every move. I was always drawing and attempting to paint, always creating. I remember laying out all of my drawings on our living room floor when I was a kid when my parents’ friends would come over. I would try to sell them my drawings. They were nice and came over to look at my drawings, but never bought any! Thanks a lot!

After high school I attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I knew that was all I wanted to do. For me there was no other option. That may sound naive, but it felt right not to overthink it, and it launched me into my work.

What do you love most about painting?

The entire process. Watching something appear from pushing paint globs around and slowly a whole world emerges. I love converting a developing idea to a form. 

I also love painting from life and the entire experience of working with the model and having their personality come through in the piece. 

Tell us about the figures in your work. What would you say your paintings are about? 

Most of the figures in my world are my close friends or people I know. They are all strong women, composed of mothers, other artists or yogis. 

The rewards of painting my friends and the female form is that we have so much fun! We talk, listen to music, have wine, and have great conversation. I really get to know someone very intimately when I paint them. 

In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than the female form. I love skin, curves, and the soft and diverse anatomy. Women are very powerful.

My paintings have different meanings, depending on the theme of the show and the individual piece. In my last solo exhibition, I explored what’s known as the seven year life cycles, and the emotions experienced in those time frames. I explore our shared connection to ourselves and the universe through cosmic stardust. This concept is incorporated into my work with rainbow sparkles, splatters, and expressive marks. My previous work focused on strong women and that was still a big part of my last show, but I went deeper than I have before, addressing meditation, spirituality, oneness, and the cosmos.

What are your hobbies when you are not in the studio?

Yoga! I am a crazy yogi. 

It is a big part of my life and if I even miss a day or two of it, I start to freak out. I have been practicing for about 12 years now, and it has helped my painting and every single aspect of my life. It is very grounding and meditative. It gives me energy and helps me stay balanced and manage stress.

What is something you are very proud of in your career so far?

All of my solo shows and the feeling of creating complete bodies of work. Looking back at them , sometimes I can’t believe how they evolved from start to finish. I never know what the final paintings will look like. My original idea gets formed through research, photo shoots for reference, and getting into the zone of painting for hours on end. It is fun and exciting and a ton of work, but well worth it.

I also enjoy teaching and showing my daughter the value of a strong work ethic, and allowing her to play and create freely in my studio.

What advice would you give your younger self?

My advice to my younger self would be to plan, value, and prioritize studio time. Time is precious and painting requires consecutive hours to really escape, and get into that magic mode where time does not exist. I would tell my younger self to always experiment and push boundaries. I did that a bit but I don't feel like I did it enough. I'd definitely say paint for yourself not for others, and know yourself. Paint and draw from life each week—as much as possible! 

I would say to always keep learning, take criticism, take praise, learn a little about your own work and business, and remember why you love creating art!