10 Questions for Layla Fanucci
Layla Fanucci, artist

Each Wednesday the Napa Valley Register’s Business Focus features “10 Questions” for a local entrepreneur. Readers are welcome to suggest businesspeople to be profiled.

In 1999, music teacher Layla Fanucci wanted to buy some “big, live art” for her home. Unsatisfied, she bought some art supplies and created her own large, colorful works of art, beginning her successful artistic career.

Fanucci cites the works of Picasso and Cezanne as two of her many influences. Her musical background is another inspiration to her painting.

“Every time I paint I get the same feeling of electricity, satisfaction and completion” that she first experienced in creating music, said Fanucci.

“I paint every day and love every moment.”

The self-taught artist lives in St. Helena with her husband, Robert Fanucci, an attorney and winemaker for Charter Oak Winery.

What three people would you most like to have dinner with?

Jesus, Nelson Mandela, Oprah.

What job would you like to try/not like to try?

(Try) Opera singer.

(Not try) Veterinarian.

What was your first job?

Swimming teacher in Woodside and Atherton when I was in high school.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?

Marketing. Creating art is easy. Exposing it to an audience and promoting it — that is the hard part. It has nothing to do with your painting.

Who do you most admire in the business world (living or dead)?

Oprah, because she made such a success of her life and she gives back. She’s a great role model for everyone.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

Sing on Broadway. I was a music teacher for 25 years, so I’d probably love to do a Broadway musical. My favorite is Phantom of the Opera.

What is one necessary extravagance in your life?

My espresso machine.

What is your favorite charity?

Anything that involves helping children. Locally, St. Helena Catholic School fundraisers.

What’s your favorite weekend retreat?

Traveling somewhere I’ve never been to and doing whatever I feel like. We went to Istanbul this past June and that was wonderful. My father and his family were born and raised there. 

What other business person would you like to see featured in “10 Questions?”

Linda Alioto, Realtor and attorney.

Ivo Matijaca, owner of Nature Select Foods in St. Helena.

The 11th question for Layla Fanucci.

Where do you like to paint and why?

“Definitely outside (her home) between two apple trees. I like the light, clean air and the sun. I have a tarp that I put from the house to the tree and I paint all times of the year.”

When it’s cold, “I go out in my down jacket,” she said.

Fanucci paints oil on linen canvas.

“I love the colors of oil more than any other medium,” she said.

“They are bright, vivacious, real and more true to what I see. I paint mostly from my imagination or from pictures.”

Fanucci uses up to four layers of paint, which sometimes takes six months to dry. She estimated more than 90 of her oversized pieces are stored in her house. 

“It’s getting very crowded in here,” she said with a laugh. “They are taking over.”

But the artist doesn’t mind being surrounded by her work. “It’s wonderful,” she said.

Fanucci’s currently working on a series of cityscapes, some of which were shown at her first solo exhibit in New York City in December.

“It was absolutely stunning to see them on the walls and humbling to have people enjoy and buy them. It was very exciting,” said Fanucci.

“It’s a nice feeling that people enjoy your work so much,” she added.

Fanucci fans can see her artwork this weekend at the ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) festival in San Francisco. She’s created two wine-themed pieces for display at the Charter Oak Winery booth.

To suggest a candidate for “10 Questions” e-mail: jhuffman@napanews.com

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