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Digital art drives La Jolla artist’s creative spirit

Renata Spiazzi already had a lifetime of artistic talents to her credit before she began working with digital art in 1994.

Spiazzi left Italy for the United States at age 26 and has been a La Jolla resident since 1958. After moving to the States, she began studying a variety of media, including ceramics, oils, watercolor, acrylics, woodcarving, photography and sculpting. She credits her early Italian education with her ability to learn such a wide range of demanding media.

“During my first five grades in Italy, I learned how to do everything — sewing, embroidery, crochet and knitting; that discipline stays with you all your life,” Spiazzi said

She applied her varied training to teaching adult education art classes at the San Diego Community Colleges. But after retiring from teaching in 1991, she still sought new artistic challenges.

She found her new niche after buying her first computer, an Amiga. But Spiazzi balked at the idea of using it to try re-creating traditional art.

“I decided that it was a shame to try to imitate with a computer the kind of art that’s been done for centuries,” Spiazzi said. “The computer needed art that could only be done with it.”

That’s when she discovered the new media of digital art. She took advantage of the early software available at that time and began working with fractals (drawings created with a computer formula). The debut of Photoshop in 1994 proved a boon to her creativity.

“When I work in fractals, I get an object on the computer, but that is still not a composition,” she said. So after making a drawing with fractal software, she transfers it to Photoshop, before choosing three or four other fractals from her extensive inventory.

“I overlap the fractals and play with the transparencies,” Spiazzi said. “When you put one image over another, you change the colors, and you can make things you’d never think of making if you were drawing them with a pencil.”

Spiazzi frequently uses her photography skills to incorporate images into her digital productions. A quick view of her Web site illustrates her ability to capture images of flowers, rock art, etc.

A trip to Mexico’s Copper Canyon inspired her to photograph the region’s indigenous people. After returning home, she enhanced her photos with Corel Painter on her computer to add brush strokes and make the image appear “more painterly.”

“I’m a little bit shy of using Corel Painter so much, though, because it’s like going backward to create something that’s been done for centuries,” Spiazzi said.

Spiazzi is now showing her work at San Diego’s Office of the City Attorney and the Emerald Plaza Hotel in San Diego.

“The city attorney’s office wanted me to create images that reflect San Diego, so I decided to put together six works of San Diego by using fractals, and the images came out so beautifully,” she said.

Spiazzi prints her 40-by-40-inch art on an Epson 9800 printer and uses archival canvases and inks. Each image that she creates is part of a limited edition.

“I only do five prints of each painting,” she said.

According to Spiazzi, when people ask her how long it takes her to paint an image, she always replies, “It took me two weeks to do it, but 20 years to learn how.”

A longtime member of the San Diego Digital Art Guild, Spiazzi recently received a commission to create seven abstract fractal paintings for a future building in Sorrento Valley.

Spiazzi frequently displays her art throughout San Diego County and is now preparing for her May solo show at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. It will feature three themes: her series of the “Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon,” which features photos altered to look like paintings; her set of “Flame Fractals,” several overlapping images that form a composition; and her “Variations on a Fractal Theme” images.

On the Web

www.spiazzi.com