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!
hi Michael, I know it's hard, but believe it; every word. and w wet canvas, i'll explore and if I find value there, i'll stick around. if not, i'll check out. keep creating fantastic work...toodles
Michael Beckett said:
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)
I love everything you do, Michael. You know why? Because you are so so good!
Ms McTaggart, you sure know how to sweet talk a guy lol! ;o) .... thank you!
Many years of experience, LOL. Besides, it's so easy when it's true!
stunning.. love it all
thanks so much Caroline! :o)
Fantastic paintings and loved the interview. It is always discouraging when those around you are not supportive, specially during our younger years. As if the inner critique isn't enough... I too haven't dug my heels back into art until a few yrs. ago. It is so encouraging to see others get back into the game and become such wonderful artists. Thanks for sharing.
Congratulations Michael! Great work =)
thank you Jslkim and Stacy!
that is so true, Jslkim! it wasn't that i was discouraged from making art, it was just don't follow it as a career. Their way of being practical I guess. Aerodynamically, bumble bees aren't supposed to fly either, but they do!
Goes to show that you can keep the child away from art, but you can't keep the artist out of the child, and to extend that one more time, can't keep the child out of the artist! :o)
Love your work, and that you work on so many different types of painting. They are all very good.........Maggie
Michael, I love your work! Do you have any local shows coming up?
thank you Margaret and Melanni! :o)
Melanni, i'm more of a weekend artist and i've never had my own show. I'm not sure i even have enough paintings to do that lol! I am involved in a couple of group shows in the spring. I will be posting here when they come around!