Dan cover artist Denise Franzino talks technique and more

The beautiful cover of September 17, 2021 of this week comes to Dan’s papers by Denise Franzino, a refined portrait painter and artist who has perfected her ability to capture spirit and life in everything she paints. She tells us about this week’s recovery, her technique, and her fall on the East End.

Denise Franzino

What is the name of this beautiful, quiet room, and what location inspired its creation?

The piece presented is titled “Sunflower Farm Sunset”. It was one of those beautiful September days when the air was cool and the sky clear. The sun was setting over this beautiful sunflower farm in Mattituck. It seemed like each sunflower was hitting the last rays of light as the sun set. Each flower seemed to have its own unique personality as it stretched towards the sky. The location of this farm is the North Fork Sunflower Maze in Mattituck.

How was this piece created? Tell us about your process.

This piece was created from a cell phone photo. Today, the images on cell phones are incredible. If I don’t have my 35mm camera with me, I still have my cell phone. I never know when a scene is going to strike a chord inside and I just have to capture it. Once I recorded the scene, I made enlargements. Most of the time I use a combination of photographs to create my paintings. This particular painting was created from one. This happens very rarely.

After the enlargements are done, I paint at least one very detailed oil color study before starting the final painting – usually 1/4 the size of the final painting. In this study, I discover my valuable arrangements, my color and my composition. Color studies are so helpful because I’m not trying to make all of these critical decisions about the final painting. I have the study on another easel and use it as a guide while I paint the final painting. Of course, when painting bigger there are always some adjustments to be made but as long as I capture the essence of the study I’m happy.

What makes this work of art so ideal for a Dan’s papers blanket?

I think this paint is an ideal fit for Dan’s papers mainly because of the subject. Sunflower farms are so beautiful on Long Island. They are there from the middle of the summer, then inaugurate the fall. They always bring me a smile and provide food for the golden finches and other birds that love their seeds. I also felt that the composition lent itself well to the Dan’s papers format. The sunflowers in the shadows contrasting with the brilliant colors of the sky were such a powerful image. Dark against light is very eye-catching and dramatic.

An informal portrait by Denise Franzino
An informal portrait by Denise Franzino

Your ability to capture the life and essence of people, animals and nature is awesome. How do you manage to make your paintings so full of life, and how does your technique and / or state of mind differ when you capture the spirit of these subjects?

Thank you very much for this beautiful compliment. I think the greatest praise you can give an artist is that their work touches you in some way and brings their subject matter to life. The artist’s job is to move the viewer through his visual interpretation, be it a painting, sculpture, drawing or any other form of art. With the portrait, I know that it is not enough to obtain the precision of the lines and the resemblance. You have to convey the essence and spirit of your model in some way. It could be the way the model is wearing, a certain expression he makes, a look in his eyes. It is the artist’s ability to detect these subtleties and record them on the canvas in a way that brings the painting to life.

Having a passion for what you are painting is also key to evoking mood in a painting. I love animals and flowers. With my portraits of pets, each also has an individual personality. The pure joy I get from portraying people’s pets, I feel it, shines through in my paintings. When I paint flowers, I usually work from nature. I spend a lot of time setting up the still life, and then I try to record my first impression as quickly as possible. Painting from life is very difficult, especially painting flowers. They change forever before your eyes. The spontaneity that comes from working from life is also what can bring a painting to life. Quick decision making must be on point. You can’t hang around like you can when working from photographs. Photographs are essential, but years and years of painting from life are the best teacher.

I also like to paint landscapes in the open air. Taking out my easel and painting a scene that sparks something in me is so rewarding. Here again, quick decision making is essential. The sun is always moving and you only have about three hours to get a feel for it. Sometimes, if I don’t finish, I come back to this site the next day, as long as time permits, and keep going. If I can’t, I’ll take a few photos and finish the painting in my studio with that first impression in mind – which drew me to this particular scene in the first place.

When I look at a painting I made on location as opposed to one I worked on from a photograph, I will be transported back to that particular day and remember what kind of day it was, sounds of birds singing and the feel of the breeze against my face.

A pet portrait by Denise Franzino
A pet portrait by Denise Franzino

What artistic achievement or achievement are you most proud of?

Last year, I was a semi-finalist at the Art Renewal Center International Show. The ARC’s annual competition is the world’s most ambitious contemporary realism competition. This year’s show received nearly 5,000 registrations from 83 countries. This achievement was probably one of the greatest highlights of my career. Also, I am very honored to have been on the cover of Dan’s papers for the second time. I appreciate the journal’s dedication and support to artists and for exposing our vision to so many people.

What do you find most rewarding about your artistic life and your career?

I think what I find most personally rewarding in my artistic life and career is that I have built a successful business on my own. I have never had a representation of a portrait company representing artists. My career has lasted more than 25 years of which I am very proud. I knew I had a high end item and found a way to sell myself to a certain customer base. This was before social media and the internet were easily accessible.

I have found private schools, country clubs, and charities that have fundraising events where I can showcase my work with other vendors. (I try to do about 15 shows a year.) People interested in my work would come to my table and I would discuss the prices and the procedure. I would get their names, phone numbers and email addresses. I would make all the follow-up phone calls, schedule photoshoots, do the photo shoots and paint the commissioned portrait.

All of this work can be intimidating at times, trying to juggle different hats, but the rewards have been increased tenfold. When I deliver a painting and see the happiness I have brought to my clients through my work, it fills my heart with joy. How blessed am I! A portrait, for me, is capturing a moment in time forever on the canvas. It is a heritage to be cherished today and for generations to come.

What inspirations do you hope to bring your art to life this fall?

This fall, I hope to paint more outdoors. The weather is cooler and the beautiful colors of autumn will be in the spotlight. I love to go to Old Westbury Gardens and paint the beauty around me. Everywhere you turn, there is a painting begging to be captured. I also look forward to painting more floral and figurative work.

that of Denise Franzino "White bride of Edinburgh"
“The White Bride of Edinburgh” by Denise Franzino

Where can we see your art in the coming weeks?

I have a painting on display at the Salmagundi Historical Club in Manhattan until September 19. It is titled “The White Bride of Edinburgh” and has been accepted into the 108th Annual National Competition of Allied Artists of America. I was delighted to be accepted into this prestigious show.

Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

In closing, I would like to say that I think COVID has made us all re-evaluate our lives. What we once took for granted has been taken away from us. What we once emphasized so much may have brought us back to reality and what really matters in life. This virus has impacted our lives in one way or another. For me, one aspect that affected was that I looked at my art in a different way. I wanted to take more time to explore the paintings I had on the back burner because I was so focused on my career as a portrait painter. Time flies so quickly and before you know it, you have more years behind you than in front of you. I decided to start creating these paintings that spoke to me and burst out going out. In doing so, I feel recharged and my work has almost been reborn. It’s easy to fall into the rut but I try to stay positive and always, always paint from the heart.

To learn more about Denise Franzino, her available works and her portrait commission services, visit denisefranzino.com.

September 17, 2021 Dan's Papers cover by Denise Franzino Zoom
September 17, 2021 Dan’s Papers cover by Denise Franzino
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