Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Art of Michelle

I'm so excited to share with you today gathered heart's first ever artist interview. Illinois-based artist and illustrator Michelle McFadden is "very much influenced by this beautiful world" we live in, something I think is definitely apparent in her work.

Michelle and I actually went to college together, and even though we shared a concentration and were only a year apart, we never had any classes together. Regardless, her work has been so inspiring to me, and I've loved following her blog and seeing her skills as an artist develop since college. Her work is absolutely beautiful, featuring pink-cheeked girls, curious creatures and so many wonderful little details... take a peek!

One of my favorite pieces -- A Walk in the Woods, Mixed Media, 4x4"

In one sentence, describe your artistic style: 
My "style" evolves as I evolve, hopefully always toward peacefulness, simplicity, innocence, and charm.

Where do you find inspiration?
So very much from nature... and also from stories (fairy tales especially) and young, imaginative girls with messed up hair and no concept of reality who remind me of myself when I was their age. 

Spring Song, Mixed media, 8x9.5"

If you could spend a day in the studio of any artist, who would it be?
John Waterhouse (dead) and Cori Dantini (very much alive). I couldn't decide between them.

Apart from making art, what else do you enjoy doing?
I have a particular fondness for my life and absolutely love to be outside on a beautiful spring day. I'm obsessed with listening to birds and wish I knew all of their names. I also really enjoy kissing my future husband and hanging out with my three lovely sisters... not to mention my trips up north to visit one of the coolest gals on the planet.

Michelle working in her studio space

Time management can be a tricky thing for creatives -- how do you keep yourself organized and on-task?Oooh this one is a tricky one for me. I never quite feel organized enough, but hopefully once I have a house of my own I can answer this question better! Right now I just have to keep cleaning my studio in order to feel organized, and applying for art shows I know I'm not ready for definitely helps me stay on task. But overall I feel mostly overwhelmed on a daily basis. I am at a funny spot in my life and that kind of throws off my schedule and studio time. But I try to make it a habit to be in the studio every day (even if all I do is read).

How do you fight creative blocks?
Reading the Bible, writing, and running.

Bluebird, 5x5" limited edition print 

What is the best advice you've ever received, and what advice would you offer to other artists?
The best advice I have ever received comes straight from the Bible. There is an unbelievable amount of wisdom and knowledge and stories in that book, and it comes freely to all of us if only we'd just read it! So... read it! That would be my advice to others.

What are your three favorite tools for making art?
A sharp 4H pencil, my favorite colors in brand new tubes of watercolor, and hot press watercolor paper.

Do you have a piece that you are most proud of? Why?
Well, I suppose I am proud of the piece "Protector of the Forest" because I felt like I was able to capture a part of my imagination on canvas... but that was in college... shouldn't I have a new one by now?

Protector of the Forest triptych, acrylic on canvas, 24x38"
Note: click the link to view the details. I've seen this piece in person and it is breathtaking!

Was the transition from college student to professional artist a difficult one?
Um yes. I'm still working this one out... let's just say I feel undereducated on a regular basis and am having to spend a lot of time researching (and making a lot of mistakes) about the business side of being an artist. How does one go about selling ones work? What do taxes look like fore the self-employed? How should I communicate with art directors and publishers in order to stand above the crowd? These are all questions I am still answering...

As the Wind Moves, Mixed Media 22x28"

Any upcoming projects or shows in the future we can look forward to?
I hope! I've been applying to about a dozen shows all over the state and am just crossing my fingers that someone accidentally slips my application onto the "accepted" pile. Plus, I am planning a show here in Lincoln in June (it's kind of a secret at this point) and am working on curriculum for an art camp I'll be hosting late this summer.
Nature is obviously a huge theme in Michelle's work, something that heavily influences me as well. I love what she said about the young, imaginative girls in her illustrations reminding her of herself as a child. Much of my childhood was spent outdoors with flowers and bugs, so it's no surprise how much her work resonates within me. I love artists who choose to share the beauty of life and child-like curiosity of mankind instead of the dark underside of humanity.

I hope you've enjoyed this post! To see more on Michelle, check out her website, blog, and Etsy shop. Her blog is wonderful and chock full of work in progress updates and inspirational bits. And a huge thanks to Michelle for sharing!


lizzie said...

her work is beautiful! can't wait to see what more she comes up with and more interviews from you!

The Art of Michelle said...

Oh thank you Katherine! You did a wonderful job! I too can't wait to see more interviews...

Kate said...

Wow. The jungle piece IS breathtaking. I like these interviews.