2015 Texas Book Festival Poster

texas book festival

I am very honored that my painting “The Naturalist” has been chosen for the official Twentieth Anniversary Texas Book Festival poster. The festival is on the weekend of October 17 and 18 at the Texas State Capitol in Austin and benefits Texas public libraries. I am thrilled to have been chosen because the public libraries have been instrumental in my self education as an artist. Before I even stepped inside an art museum I found art within the books I devoured at the library. More practically, I learned to draw and compose paintings by copying old master works found in books. I also discovered literature which has served me faithfully not just for comfort and escape but as a treasure chest of ideas for my works.  It is no wonder that I wish for my works to open the same doorways to dreams and imaginations that literature does.

The narrative quality of Ronquillo’s work made it a perfect choice to represent the Texas Book Festival this year. As Stephens [Rachel Stephens from the Wally Workman Gallery] remarks:

“As you can see in the festival poster image, her informed visual language creates characters that are layered with a past as well as a future. The eye contact activates the viewer as a participant. Her symbolism intrigues the imagination. It is no wonder that the literary community is drawn to her work. What time period is it set in? Are the flowers being offered or received? Is the finch a friend or a possession? And what army could the red armband signify? As with literature, there are no wrong answers. There are only stories, stories wanting to be told, stories wanting to be read.” ~ from the Texas Book Festival Lit Blog

Speaking of artists, you can spend the three months between now and TBF weekend admiring the poster art by Fatima Ronquillo, an elegant that looks as if it might be several centuries old, which has the feel of both the Old World and the New World, of past and present, of nature and civilization … it tells a story of the kind we love to discover in books. ~ Robert Faires, The Austin Chronicle

Book Covers for Valter Hugo Mãe

I am very excited to share this series of four book covers featuring my paintings of hands with lover’s eyes: the novels of Valter Hugo Mãe published by Alfaguara (Editora Objectiva). Valter Hugo Mãe is a renowned Portuguese writer who has won several literary prizes including the prestigious José Saramago Literary Prize (in 2007) and Grande Prémio Portugal Telecom de Literatura (in 2012). 2014 was the 10th anniversary of his first novel and Alfaguara has republished his first four novels to mark the occasion.





American Art Collector, March 2015



American Art Collector
Issue 113, March 2015
Upcoming Show Preview, “Fatima Ronquillo: Possession”
pp. 100-101

View PDF file AACMarch2015



Diana goddess of the hunt and the moon, spoke to animals and turned Actaeon into a stag so he would be devoured by his own hunting dogs.

Huntress peers out from Fatima Ronquillo’s painting, demure with her single strand of pearls, self-possessed and agelessly childlike. Her quiver is ready on her shoulder, and the gold and crescent-shaped pearl diadem in her hair symbolizes her deity. The painting is also a reference to a tradition in British painting of women dressing as Diana for their portraits.


Ronquillo says, “Sometimes I mistrust my instinct,” but her instinct guides her through the doubt. Her preliminary drawings may not have enough information when she begins to paint, but the paintings come together―sometimes if she just walks away or works on another painting.

The painting Little Chief with Dog needed something before it was finished, “so I added the feathers on the ledge. There needed to be a little red there, but it couldn’t take away from the dog.”

Little Chief with Dog
Little Chief with Dog

When asked if the single pearl earring in Acrobat with Pearl is a  reference to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, she replies, “No, you just can’t see the other one.” She recalls her grandmother’s love of jewelry and her unrolling her jewelry wraps to show her granddaughter the treasures inside.

Ronquillo is drawn to Picasso, as well as Watteau, and likes the characters in commedia dell’arte―the harlequin costume appears often in her work, although she says the pattern is tedious to paint. She keeps a “mental card catalog” of literary, musical and art historical references to draw on for inspiration.

Acrobat with Pearl
Acrobat with Pearl

Her latest paintings are in the exhibition Possession at Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, Texas, March 7 through 28. Possession, Ronquillo says, “refers to ownership, as well as to the mental state of infatuation,” as she recalls the lyrics of Kate Bush’s song Cloudbusting:

But everytime it rains
You’re in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is
     going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it 

Her characters are “children in an adult role,” Ronquillo explains, “they’re so serious in a sometimes ridiculous situation. Some people think they’re sad. I find them amusing. I don’t want them to be jokes though. They are characters who believe in their moment, living in their own reality.”

Acrobat with Dove
Acrobat with Dove

“Fatima’s work fascinates the intellectual and the aesthetic mind. Through her incredible layering, symbolism and rich coloring, angelic yet curious characters emerge and reach between centuries, whispering a narrative that finds life within the viewer’s mind. Each piece is truly a treasure, full of history and sparkle.” ―Rachel Stephens, partner, Wally Workman Gallery


Santa Fean, June/July 2014

Santa Fean Magazine, The Art Issue. June/July 2014 page 44



Fatima Ronquillo is enamored with what she calls “the earnestness of colonial folk art.” the Philippines-born, Texas-raised artist, who shows at Meyer East Gallery on Canyon Road, taught herself to paint by copying old paintings and drawings, and she explains that “looking for prototypes or ideas from the art of the past” is integral to her creative process. But symbolism and humor also play an evolving role in her work. “I view my paintings more as portraits of emotions or ideas rather than [of] any particular person. I want to paint stuff about love and hopefulness and also the occasional heartache.” Ronquillo says. “I am a secret romantic.” ―ET

PA #53, March 2014


Poets and Artists Issue #53: “Love”
March 2014
Curated by Marina Press



1. What are these paintings of? Tell me a little bit about each one?

“Abbandonata” is about loss and mourning. It actually depicts a painting of a dead bird I found on one of my walks near my home. It was such a beautiful sparrow with these ruby red feathers and I have painted it several times over the past couple of years. Of course it’s a small nod to Dutch still life paintings of game birds and fowls. The girl has a weeping lover’s eye brooch. She is abandoned not just the little bird but by the departed lover as well.

“Suitor with Letter and Carnation” is a simple declaration of love and admiration.

“Young Woman with Cupid” is a rather funny painting. It’s a lady catching an errant mischievous cupid. Perhaps she doesn’t want to fall in love and has had quite enough of Cupid’s meddling. Or… maybe she desperately wants love and finally caught a cupid to do her bidding.

2. Although these are portraits there are sorts of hidden stories in them due to the symbolism. Tell me what that symbolism is. 

The symbolism is not very hidden and quite a few are traditional symbols such as the carnation of “affection” and the lover’s eyes are miniatures painted as love mementos popular in the late 18th Century. I adore the idea of the lover’s eye… it is the unseen lover, the object of the portrait sitter’s affection. I am also quite fond of ephemeral symbols such as birds, nest and flowers because of how they are a continuation of the “vanitas” genre in painting.

3. These paintings evoke love. But, do they evoke heartbreak? How so?

I think the symbols of love are obvious – the offerings of blossoms and love tokens. But also the heartbreak is quite literal in the dead bird and mourning veil and in other paintings of mine in visible wounds. In “Young Woman with Cupid” possible heartbreak or disappointment can also be read.

4. Are they autobiographical at all? 

I hope not… Seriously I try not to be precious about my work and some parts of my life probably creep into the paintings. Luckily I have a disposition that tends to be playful so a lot of that absurdity probably becomes a part of the works.

5. What inspires the clothing that your subjects are wearing? Did you dream them up as well? 

The clothing is just something that evolved through the years. They’re from all time periods because I’m a lover of art history and I appropriate whatever amuses me.

6. Your paintings seem to transport us back in time with their technique. Please tell me your secret.

I don’t have a secret beyond that which can be found in classical painting techniques. The only thing that might be unique in my painting method is I never dilute paint so there is a lushness to the paint itself.  It’s a happy consequence of creating a solvent-free studio environment. In other words… I never use mineral spirits.

7. Are there any works of literature that inspire you as well?

I’m a book lover. Shakespeare and Madame Bovary have inspired some works. At the moment I am reading M.F.K. Fisher’s collected works “The Art of Eating” so there might be a lot of food still life in the future.



Mondobelo, November 2013

An interview with online magazine, Mondobelo. Please scroll down for an English translation…


Mondobelo Magazine
November 2013

Fátima Ronquillo se mudó de Filipinas a Texas cuando tenía diez años y desde entonces se recuerda metida en la biblioteca copiando las reproducciones de los grandes maestros clásicos de los libros de arte.

En esta entrevista le preguntamos por las indumentarias clásicas, los ojos de amante, la aparienciencia misteriosa de sus protagonistas y la simbología que se han convertido en señas de identidad de sus obras.

Fátima, eres una pintora autodidacta, ¿hubo un momento decisivo en el que decidiste que esto se convirtiese en tu profesión?

– En realidad, no. He creado y expuesto desde que era muy joven así que fue una transición natural, aunque pasaron muchos años hasta que pude vivir de ello.

Tengo la sensación de que gran parte del encanto de los protagonistas de tus retratos reside en el halo de misterio que los envuelve y que nos hace querer saber más sobre ellos. Consigues que posean una mezcla de inocencia y de tener algo que ocultar, ¿es lo que buscas?

– Sí, dan la sensación de ser reticentes a mostrar su interior. Hay una persona pública y una privada, oculta. Ése es el tesoro por descubrir.

The Companion ●
The Companion
Lady with Honey Thief ●
Lady with Honey Thief
Masked Child with Tulip ●
Masked Child with Tulip

¿Qué pretendes comunicar con tu arte?

– Amor y belleza, acompañados de la inocencia, la alegría, la incomodidad y la soledad.

Muchos de los elementos que aparecen en tu obra (flechas, arlequines, máscaras, animales), ¿poseen un simbolismo?

– Oh… son meros accesorios. Su simbolismo es bastante obvio: las flechas hacen referencia al amor, las máscaras al hecho de ocultarse a sí mismos, los animales insinúan sus alter egos o la parte salvaje que hay en nosotros.

Abbandonata ●
Martyred Lover ●
Martyred Lover
The Inconstant ●
The Inconstant

Entre todos esos accesorios, las joyas y en especial los ojos de amante, son muy frecuentes. ¿Puedes recordar el primero que viste y el primero que pintaste?

– El primero que vi lo descubrí en un blog y me quedé impactada. Me atrajo la idea de un ojo aislado y el desmembramiento físico como símbolo de la separación del ser amado. Para alguien enamorado, una foto de la persona que ama es un tesoro. Después, en 2010 pinté una figura en un traje militar verde que sostenía un ojo de amante.

Se ha convertido en un objeto recurrente en tu obra, ¿qué te fascina de esta joya?,¿qué le aporta a la pieza?

– Es un símbolo del amor, de la ausencia, los secretos y la nostalgia. Es maravillosamente surrealista y a la vez dota de un contexto a un ojo flotante: un retrato dentro de un retrato.

Bound Hand with Lover's Eye ●
Bound Hand with Lover’s Eye
Incognito ●
Hand with Lover's Eye ●
Hand with Lover’s Eye

Me pregunto si alguien que ve las ropas y la atmósfera que rodea a tus personajes sin tener ninguna pista de su autor, pensaría que se trata de una obra actual, ¿qué buscas en la estética de tiempos pasados?

– Adoro los trajes, la seriedad de los retratos, los adornos alegóricos… Soy una amante de la historia del arte y aprendí a dibujar copiando a Tiziano, Bellini, Watteau o Poussin, así que recorrer diferentes épocas es infinitamente fascinante para mí.

A Fátima le atrae la capacidad del amor para provocar placer y dolor y le intrigan las cicatrices que las personas que hemos amado van dejando en nosotros. Como si se tratase de alguno de sus enigmáticos personajes, cuando le pregunto si su interés por este tipo de historias esconde a una persona apasionada, me responde: “Quizás…”

Artistic Moods, June 2013

Thank you so much to Sandra of the newly launched and already great art blog artisticmoods.com. Please visit the website as I have discovered and enjoyed so many talented artists’ works. According to Sandra she created the blog to provide a “a place where art will be shared & celebrated extensively.” I am very honored that she asked to feature my work….

Artistic Moods
June 9, 2013


These are the delicate portraits of Fatima Ronquillo; a self-taught artist based in New Mexico, who paints magical personages belonging to a world that is different from that of ours. Beautifully humble and a delight to look at… Fatima’s work is oftenly combined playfulness, humor and, above all, mystery.

Alongside other symbols of romance, such as arrows and blindfolds, Fatima’s characters regularly carry what is now known as a “lover’s eye”. These tokens carried the significance of a secret love in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were placed in personal belongings such as broches and boxes, and were only recognizable for the lover and the beloved.

Like the lover’s eye, most Fatima’s portraits are originally small of size (9 by 7 inches). Her characters are undetermined, belonging to an undetermined world. A perfect scene scene to allow the viewer a doorway to imagination… ~ Artistic Moods