Loretta’s earliest influence was her mother’s art, landscapes, still-life, and religious icons cluttered the walls of their small basement suite. Loretta’s mother was a divorced single woman raising two children on her own. A proud and beautiful Italian woman with bee-hive black hair, who refused to collect welfare, and instead struggled to build her small seamstress business called La Moda. There were many nights when Loretta and her brother fell asleep on piles of soft fabrics while their mother stitched the last hem of the night. Their occasional treat was a Sunday at the beach. Loretta remembers chopping on juicy watermelon while watching her mother paint.
“It was fascinating to watch her dab oil paints on cardboard canvases and transformed them into seascapes pictures.”
An explorer from the start they called Loretta a ‘Tom Boy,’ because she was not fond of dresses, and dolls were rarely in her possession. She chased frogs, made mud pies, and built forts with her neighborhood friends. In those days, “be home by sun sets,” and the norm, and day-long expeditions to distant gravel pits the adventure.
As a teen, art and history teachers were her favorite people and drawing on notebooks the pastime. By senior year she took-up photography and won her first prize at the Kelowna Regatta. That unexpected moment and the encouragement of her art teachers, progressed to a diploma in Communicational Arts in 1980. She learned what is now considered old-school ‘analogue’ process of graphic design, illustration, and film with actual reels.
Fast forward… after college she met her husband who shared her love of photography. They married, raised, and launched two sons. In that busy time, Loretta also studied fine arts at the local North Island College. She explored painting, pottery and printmaking and much more, until an obsession emerged for block printing. It was the desire to work with water-soluble inks to keep her home environment safe, when she eventually developed a unique process of block printing that produced a richly textured print. She was selected as an emerging artist and had three prints exhibited at the BC Festival of the Arts.
The introduction of computers helped her set-up her husband’s business, and to learn web design, marketing and photo-editing. Photo-compositing skills using Photoshop merged well with the discovery of photo-polymer plates. An Eco-friendly printing method using light and water to etch plates. The etched plates were printed by hand on a small press in her Comox Valley home studio. What she learned allowed her to teach printmaking workshops and her work received a few awards, including an Honorable Mention in 2013 at the Sooke Fine Arts Show for her photo-polymer etching, “Back Street Crow Business.”
Late 2014 Loretta’s mother became suddenly ill and Loretta found herself in a new roll of care-giver. During that time her creativity was limited to learning to knit socks, a meditative process that offered comfort in a complicated time. After her mother’s passing Loretta was “empty and drained,” and in a creative crisis to find a meaning for life. Eighteen months had passed before she could even think about art again. Loretta began by watching other people paint on Youtube and was pulled towards exploring abstraction. Abstraction offered the spiritual healing and an esoteric connection to her mother.
“I often imagine her looking over my shoulder, and commenting as I paint, as I once did as a child.”
It took a few years for her to find her direction. The pivotal moment was 2019 when Loretta’s first grandchild was born. Traveling to the Maritimes of Canada she brought only her iPad and Apple pencil. On their first visit together, she imagined sharing stories with him through her art. Messages she would create in the form of posters he would one day hang in his room. During his naps she started to exploring courses on Skillshare and learned to paint in Procreate. Eventually she completed a poster for her grandson, his exclusive version of “Life’s a Safari.”
Digital-painting is now her mission. Mark-making with traditional mediums is only an interesting layer that she adds to her digital work. Her creative process is complicated, but for her spontaneous. She uses various applications in unconventional ways to collage, photography and repurposed paintings. The abstract themes are painted pixel by pixel by hand. There are no automated computer textures. The style is expressive while incorporating familiar subjects in a modern eclectic aesthetic. The art is joyful and inviting. You would feel comfortable having it hanging in your home. Loretta doesn’t shy away from describing her art as wall décor. But also sees it as a “portal or a gateway,” to dreams and a doorway to the imagination. The work is colourful, bold and mesmerizing. The familiar forms of landscapes, botanicals and florals offer a journey through line, form and pattern. The viewer must approach the artwork holistically and not be too quick to define it. There are layers to be seen that are only revealed slowly and in contemplation.
Loretta’s creative life has been a maze of interesting artistic trails, painting, printmaking, pottery, glass-lampworking, jewelry, book arts to name a few. Many have often come to a full stop. But it is her fearless-creative spirit that keeps her moving forward, creating, inventing and stretching artistic processes. There is no doubt that her journey so far has provided her with a strong foundation to explore and reinvent through the art of digital-painting.