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Portfolio: Mike Fantuz

Painting from a drone perspective

He's a pilot, air traffic controller and an artist.
"Trinity" oil on canvas 2023 Trinity, Newfoundland
"Trinity" oil on canvas 2023 Trinity, Newfoundland
Canadian Mike Fantuz began his aviation career flying skydivers in northern British Columbia. The aviation bug was inherited; his maternal grandfather was in the RAF, his uncle in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and his paternal grandfather was an artist for A.V. Roe & Co., designers of the Avro Arrow. That grandfather was also an artist and Fantuz inherited his palette knives. Those knives are a key part of a distinctive technique the artist employs to add texture and dimension in oil and acrylic paint. With the inheritance of his grandfather’s palette knives, Fantuz was inspired to create the large-scale paintings of the Canadian landscapes of his homeland. Palette knives were originally designed for mixing paints, but some artists use them for painting as well. Fantuz’s unique perspective of the world, combined with the tools passed down to him by his grandfather, set the stage for the striking, large-scale oil paintings he is known for. During the pandemic, he pursued his drone license. “It has been a tremendous asset in my art making, as I am able to access unique perspectives that few people in art can get,” he said. Fantuz shares his passion for art and the outdoors with his wife, Emilie. The couple complement each other’s work; with drone imagery and aeronautical charts, he focuses upon the complexity of landscapes while Emilie transforms scenes into a tableau of detailed forms. The artists live in Vancouver where Mike works for NAV Canada. He has 600 hours flight time, commercial and multiengine ratings. “My favorite is painting scenes I have captured with my drone. The aerial perspective is an arena to explore deeper thoughts and ideas I have about civilization, our relationship to each other, and our relationship to the Earth,” he said.

Painting from a drone perspective

  • Painting from a drone perspective
    Mike Fantuz in his studio.
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    "Charting the way," oil on canvas 2023 The painting is created on an aeronautical chart of St. John's Newfoundland. "A sense of place resonates as more than mere background. A hillside, a river, the ocean, or an iconic building, even the traditions, customs, and relationships within that community all contribute to its identity.”
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    St. John's is the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the image of the city taken with a drone that the artist used to create his work.
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    "Yours is the World," oil on canvas 2021 Vancouver looking toward the north shore. Although our views may differ, similar themes permeate our artwork. The street corner and skyscraper both celebrate the interconnectedness of life and the interdependence of human relationships. Highways and city lights both hint at the transience of life, whether time is marked by moving cars or nightfall. Even the subjects themselves—my portraits of civilization and Emilie’s odes to the corner store—are different scenes depicted through the same appreciation for connection and optimism for cooperation and humanity.”
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    "The Dockyards," oil on canvas 2023. Nostalgia is defined as the longing to return home, where the concept of home is not a physical place but a different time. As the needs of our present existence change, it is possible to alter the perceptions of our past, ultimately directing the realities of our future.”
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    "Unveiled Breeze," oil on canvas 2022 The dockyards at St. John's, Newfoundland. The exploration of places anew inspires us to seek what is beyond our sights, seizing the opportunity to expand our personal growth and fulfilment, even finding new meaning in what could be the familiar.”
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    Mike and Emilie Fantuz are a husband-and-wife artist duo who both work with oil paint and palette knives. While both artists often paint city scenes, their perspectives differ. Mike’s work takes an expansive and ambitious aerial view, with bridges and roads reaching across an entire city. Emilie’s work draws near for a close-up, often of that same city as in Mike’s painting, with corner stores and city sidewalks “standing in their unassuming beauty,” she says. </p> <p>Mike Fantuz’s grandfather was an aviator with the RAF, Number 12 Squadron in World War II. Mike grew up with incredible stories of flying, and the perception that aviation was something highly respected. After he graduated high school, Fantuz worked in the oil and gas industry in northern Canada where he had the opportunity to fly in bush airplanes and helicopters. “It was there that I really fell in love with the feeling of flight. I saved as much money as possible, and after three years, I entered a commercial pilot program in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I eventually found my way to air traffic control, and drones, which I am very passionate about.”
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    During the pandemic, Mike Fantuz decided to pursue his advanced drone license. Through the imagery captured by drones and his use of old aeronautical charts as canvases, he focuses upon the complexity of a vast landscape, giving meaning, he says, “to the importance of place in our daily lives.”
  • Painting from a drone perspective
    Mike and Emilie Fantuz are a husband-and-wife artist duo who both work with oil paint and palette knives. While both artists often paint city scenes, their perspectives differ. Mike’s work takes an expansive and ambitious aerial view, with bridges and roads reaching across an entire city. Emilie’s work draws near for a close-up, often of that same city as in Mike’s painting, with corner stores and city sidewalks “standing in their unassuming beauty,” she says.
Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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