Welcome to Profile of the Week! We are delighted to present Michael Beckett from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Michael creates paintings and drawings of people, animals, landscapes and still lifes, using mostly acrylics and conte crayons. To see more of Michael's artwork, visit his gallery: http://community.art-is-fun.com/photo/photo/listForContributor?scre...

When you view his portfolio, be sure to click on the images to view them larger!

Please join us for this interview with Michael:

How would you describe your art?

I suppose I am somewhere between realism and impressionism. I like art that feels real, but also feels like a painting. My first love was drawing, and I still love the use of line, so recently, I have been trying to incorporate more of that in my work... trying to find the right balance of line work and realism that feels right.

How long have you been an artist and how did you become an artist?

I have always been interested in art, but I am partially red green color blind. Way back in my school days, I was advised by well meaning family and school counselors that I should not pursue a career in art. That was the attitude back in those days. I eventually studied engineering, then switched to computers and became a software developer.

But the chicken always comes home to roost! In the late nineties, this thing called the internet came along, and I learned about building web pages. Web pages need graphics, so that led to me purchasing an early version Paint Shop Pro. I discovered that I had a knack for cartooning, and I started creating cartoon animated gifs.

After a while, I became frustrated because my drawing ability was holding me back from implementing some of my cartoon ideas. So I bought the book 'Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain' by Betty Edwards, and became hooked on drawing! This was about 2004.

After a while, I got braver and started using color in my drawings... often conte crayon or watercolor pencils. About 5 years ago, I started painting with acrylics and that has dominated my art since.

What is your favorite medium and why?

For painting, I like acrylics. It may sound counter-intuitive, but with my color vision deficiency, I find it easier to work with bold colors. I can see stronger reds and greens easier than colors tinted with red or green. The fast drying time also suits the way I prefer to work. I am not a very patient artist!

For drawing, I love using conte crayon, especially for portraits. I'm not sure what it is, but I find their 'sketchiness' gives a very intimate feel to a portrait. I also do most of my color studies for paintings with conte crayon.

I also have to put a word in here for good old fashioned charcoal. I go to life drawing sessions once a week and nothing can beat the expressiveness of charcoal!

What are some of the challenges in working in your preferred medium?

The same reason why I like acrylics... the fast drying time. Blending smoothly can be a challenge, but using retarder usually helps with that.

Pick one work of art from your Art Colony portfolio and tell us the story behind it. Why does this piece have meaning to you? What steps did you take to create the piece?

Wow.. this is a hard question! My best piece is always the next one! I don't look back very often.

I guess if i have to pick one, it would be 'Carousel Ride' (shown above).

It was painted from a photograph I took from an antique merry-go-round in Fort Edmonton Park, Alberta, Canada. I was the first painting I had enough confidence to deviate away from the reference. I invented all the mirrors and poles and it was the first time I truly felt like an artist, and not just a copier of photographs.

Tell us about one medium, technique or style that you would like to try working with (that you have not tried before) and why you would like to try this.

I would really like to try printmaking. Either wood block or lino cut prints. I am just drawn to some of the graphic designs that can be created from a simple carving. I need to do some homework and may just give it a try soon.

How do you make time for art?

Ever since I started drawing, I have been a member of Wet Canvas. There are several forums there that have challenges, where a volunteer posts reference images and everyone draws or paints them and posts them back in the forum. For the most part, I have been faithfully doing one of those challenges every weekend. Most times it is only investing 2 or 3 hours in a painting or drawing, but it sure is a great way to learn!

I have also been going to an art class every Wednesday night for the last 5 years. It is a lot of fun... you can do what you want, but the instructor helps each student out individually.

The class also has an art show every year, where I have sold a few paintings. It is a good venue for learning a few things about the art business.

I also try to go to life drawing sessions once a week. There is nothing more challenging... and rewarding than drawing the human body from life!

If anyone is really serious about learning art, you have to practice on a regular basis. So make a point of putting some time in your schedule to do what you love! It's important!

If you could imagine the “perfect art day” for yourself, what would it be like?

I often get up on the weekend before anyone else in the house, put some music on, and just paint! If i could extend those couple of hours of bliss to a full day, I would be very very happy!

If you could spend 24 hours with one artist, living or historical, who would you want to spend the day with and why? What would the two of you do?

Leonardo DaVinci. Engineer and artist... sound familiar? ha ha! Do I only have 24 hours? I would just get him to show me his daily routine and how he could possibly do all what he has accomplished. I have to admit though, that he is known for NOT finishing paintings! ;P

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the wonderful members in Art Colony! Since I have joined, I have received some great support and seen some inspiring artwork and posts! This is a great place to hang out! Thank you all!

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Awesome profile Michael! I would never have believed that you really learned to draw less than 10 years ago! (I'm going yo have to pull out my copy of Drawing on the Right aside of the Brain!)this inspires me to push myself with learning to draw, because you are a phenomenal talent! I love those early morning hours when everyone else is still asleep too!

Fantastic profile Michael!  Really enjoyed reading it. Your work is beautiful. Do you draw the negative shape? Is that the correct saying?

Thank you Jo and Pat!

Jo... yes, that book convinced me I could be creative. It is about more than just drawing. I still refer to it sometimes!

Pat... I do whatever helps me draw the subject, and sometimes that is negative shapes. i find it especially useful with portraits. it is too easy to draw an eye or a nose looking like a caricature, but if you draw the shapes between the eye and the nose, it is just an abstract shape and easier to render accurately. don't draw what you think you know... draw what you see. :o)

magnificent :)

thanks for you kind words Gail and Tirtha!

and thanks to all of you that are leaving such inspiring comments on my artworks. i will never keep track of all of them, but trust me, they all are very much appreciated! :o)

Hey Michael. you already know I so enjoy your artwork but I'm going to say it again and again. Going to an art class I think is a wonderful idea. I am going to try and do that in the new year here. Awesome profile congratulations Michael.

thank you Cat!

Art class has been my one constant through a lot of life changes the last 5 years or so. Even after a long rough day at work and i don't particularly feel very creative, a few minutes holding a brush with a canvas in front of me, and the rest of the world goes away! ha ha! perfect stress relief. :o)

Very nice work and keep it up!  Great to know you.  

Wonderful Paintings and interesting interview ! I enjoyed going through your gallery again,trying to pick a favorite, but that is imposable. because I love them all !! Congratulations !!! and I look forward to all the paintings yet to come.xx

thank you Deborah and Sharon... you are too kind! not that i mind.. ha haa! ;oP

Michael congratulations on being the focus of this profile.  I especially enjoyed reading how you started and continued, though others may have been less than encouraging. I respect your working around what some might see as a disadvantage (challenges w red/green). Edwards text has been helpful to me, also. can't wait to check out wet canvas. great profile; fantastic artist.

thanks Dee! i will have to be careful about believing all the nice stuff you folks are writing lol! ;o)

Just a note about WetCanvas.... i am a little reluctant about mentioning all the virtues of WetCanvas because they are a community of like minded artists, similar to TAC. But it is a huge site, with a lot of learning resources under many different forums, mostly by specific mediums. I think that is important. they also have a huge image reference library for photo reference material that members have donated. And of course the challenges in the different forums supply even more reference photos. a high percentage of the reference material for my artwork has come from there :o)

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