10 Questions with Rhea Ornias
Love the intriguing women painted by Filipino-born, Australia-based fashion designer & artist Rhea Ornias. These poetic women with their beautiful refined hands and fascinating eyes seem to have stepped out of another era. Everything drawn in beautiful soft pastel colors, she has created her own unique style.
1. Hi Rhea! Great to have you here. Could you tell us something about yourself & your background?
Hi! My name is Rhea, a Filipino-born fashion designer based in Australia. As an only child, illustrating and writing were my two great companions. I only needed a sunroom (with some drizzle outside) on a soft sofa with a mug of hot choco in my hands. Now, my husband and son are bringing foods every time I draw so it became a party! Well, my poems and illustrations are kind of festive now. And that’s good for me.
2. How did you get started as an illustrator & did you go to art school?
When I was 3 years old, I saw my aunt who was taking up architecture, painting a teardrop for her visual class. That got me curious on how to give life to a handwork through brush and oil colour. From then on, I fell in love with the arts especially painting. Since the age of 8, I’ve been attending art classes under prime artists during summer. In the early stage, I was drawn to realism.
After attending architecture and having bachelor’s degree in fashion design, I worked in an atelier in Cebu designing clothes for their distinguished patrons. With the scholarship of Fame-Cebu in fashion accessories design, I was exposed to leading companies and did consultation projects. It landed me a fashion designer place in a French company ‘Franck Herval’. I then later attended Fida-Cebu for a styling course.
Then it dawned on me that these are all about illustrating! In the later years, my love for fashion illustration grew and I even had a masterclass under the renowned Miss Bissett. That opened my eyes more to the beauty of this field.
3. How would you describe your style & what is your technical process? What about the eyes? They look so real...
My style would be fashion painting as I would love it to be an interior piece as well. But I intend it not to overwhelm the spot that it would be placed.
I do my research on how my figure would flow. It is somehow a connection between my artwork and the audience. Then I do my rough draft as freely as I want. It is a puzzle formed from my various sketches.I start with the traditional pencil sketch. Then I do the rough draft. As a matter of fact, one final sketch is composed of 2-5 sketches combined. Colours I use are watercolor gouache and ink. Sometimes I clean the background with the computer.
The best are the products of all the attempted risks that I dared to take.
I am an eye lover and truly believe it is the window to the soul. It is my joy if someone will appreciate how I put extra love and time on the eyes. Thank you.
4. Your style looks like delicate renaissance paintings. Who or what did inspire you & your work?
I was born and raised in the city of Bacolod: a small town with a grand taste. The baroque designed cathedral of San Sebastian boasts the rich history through its interior with intricate character. Just across the street is Plaza del Seis de Noviembre which is the heart of the pueblo. There, a view of colour-infused array of shops, each with a jewel-toned blooms permeating delicate scent to the air.
Fashion is at its best in the weekends. The locals are accoutred fitting the times. Growing up surrounded by these timeless architecture and stylish neighbourhood influenced me this renaissance feel paintings.
5. Can you tell us something about the poetry behind your work
My poetry is about finding your authentic self, amidst chaos in this world. I hope it will inspire self- love and courage not to sell out the dream. Life is more than being liked.
What does the quote on your instagram ‘Art is the highest form of Hope’ mean?
It was a quote from a German painter Gerhard Richter. Art comforts, elates and defies. Whenever a person is envolved in the arts, he gains freedom from everything. It never tolerates the limitation of reality. As they say Art is the way not the thing.
6. Which clients do you have & what is your dream project?
I have commissioned paintings that take most of my time now. Aww, dreams! A lot of them. Sharing here now is a dream too. Surprises are better. It makes you grateful. Just wishing this is an abundant harvest season of good things.
7. What do you love most about your job & what not?
Working on my own time and space! That`s a sweet treat for me.
There are times that inspiration rarely visits. I must deal with it especially when its due is near.
9. Name 3 things you can’t live without...
Family, a journal, and dark chocolate!
10. Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists?
“There’s no triumph in the bleachers – watching others take the chance. It is only when you decide that you become ready, not the other way around”.