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Fabrice Spies uses San Clemente for inspiration
By Katherine Nowicki
San Clemente itself is a work of art for French born painter Fabrice Spies. Born in Grasse and raised in a small town in the south of France, Saint Cézaire, Spies taught himself art during his childhood.
There were no other artists in his hometown when he was growing up, though his neighbors enjoyed his work. To this day Spies has not attended art school or received formal instruction.
“I always liked drawing with a pencil,” Spies said. “I realized something was missing when I was 13, so I started painting watercolors and added color to my art.”
He completed about 20 paintings in his native country before moving to Los Angeles in 1998. Coming from a village of about 1,800 people he was “amazed” by the cityscape. As he did with art, Spies taught himself English and began selling his work for the first time in Los Angeles.
When Spies’ wife visited San Clemente she fell in love with the city, he said, and so it was an “easy call” to relocate in 2008 when the couple started their family. Spies now lives in San Clemente with his wife and two sons.
Wherever he is, Spies’ said his surroundings inspire him. Primarily a landscape painter, Spies draws from aspects of ordinary life in his art.
“I am inspired by things you might not notice because they’re part of your everyday life. Maybe because I am from a different culture, I notice them,” Spies said. “Anything could become a nice piece of art.”
Seemingly mundane objects like old movie signs and phone booths are often featured in Spies’ work.
Once an object catches his interest, Spies photographs it and later crops the image to begin work on the painting. Now Spies’ artwork is acrylic on canvas and limited edition gicleé prints are also available. All of his paintings are signed as his childhood nickname ‘Bibi.’
Recently, Spies’ work was recognized with the Certificate of Appreciation from the city of Los Angeles for his painting “Coliseum.” The award ceremony was held in the coliseum itself, and the painting hung in the convention center for about a week.
Spies said many famous artists inspire him, especially the impressionist Monet. The artist’s use of lighting particularly interests him, as Spies said he tends to use vivid colors in his own works.
In addition to his work, Spies also offers art lessons for children ages 6 through 14. He teaches students about custom painting techniques as well as French education.
Spies said he is very excited to participate in the annual Festival of the Arts. He will be featuring his work there at Booth 131 through Aug. 31.