Captivated by her bold, Mixed Media moves. Michelle not only combines and layers paints, gels, inks, and embellishments, but utilizes layered foundations of wood, glass, and tile to create multi-dimensional, unique pieces of art. Every time I look at her work there is a new design, a new material, and a new, wildly creative and original outcome. Another thing that Michelle frequently shares are images of her process, and we can follow along on Facebook as she creates a new pieces. Her excitement and willingness to share what is happening in her studio along the way, roadblocks and successes, tells the tale of Michelle's passion for the process of creating.
We have been having a lovely conversation over the last few months. I thank Michelle for allowing me to interview her, and now it is my extreme pleasure to introduce you to Michelle Martin, Mandala Artist, and share her Landing Place with you.
I started painting mandalas by hand about a year and a half ago, in mid 2015. I used to create them digitally, but didn't think I could paint one by hand. After awhile I sought to prove to myself and others that I could do it. I started actually with painted dreamcatchers but they eventually morphed into mandalas.
You love a challenge, I see. So, once you proved to yourself that you could DO a mandala, you kept on doing them. Is there something about mandalas themselves that keeps you creating them? Is it the product? The process? The Power?
I guess what keeps me creating them is striving for perfection that is pretty much unattainable. Also I do enjoy the process very much, I like how the paint feels on the canvas, I like the meditative quality in them while I paint them, and the fact that I seem to be better at them than any other kind of art, I've done other kinds of art my whole life and feel like I finally found my calling, my niche if you will
I am not good at realism and the only portraits I seem to do ok at are skeletons. Even then, if I make a landscape or a skull or an animal silhouette, I still put it inside of a mandala.
Your love of mandalas shows in your work. Can you say more about the meditative quality you mentioned?
Just that I am able to zone out on it, I am not a particularly spiritual person, but I do find the mathematics and geometry involved to be meditative.
People who practice meditation say they achieve a level of deep relaxation and clarity. Would you say that creating mandalas gives you the same? Do you ever 'go' to art when you are needing relaxation and clarity?
Any examples/stories you feel comfortable sharing?
I have to be in the right mood to do them. If too many people that I'm not comfortable with are around, I can't paint at all.
What are your favorite colors to work with?
Favorite colors: ALL THE COLORS, ha ha, but I am partial to blue and purple
Probably canvas or wood or glass. I can't choose just one.
I like to mix them too. For instance, gluing 12 x 12" canvas panel to gallery canvas as a frame; or gluing 12 x 12" wood to canvas panel; or gluing 12 x 12" glass to wood. I got started mixing it up like that because I'm really really fond of the 12x12" size but it can be next to impossible to find a suitable frame in that size. I had to find other ways to mount and display my square pieces. 12x12" is just right. This "record album size" is symmetrical on all sides and not too big, not too small
Chocolate or vanilla?
Minions or Muppets?
Oh Muppets for sure, cause I'm old, ha ha!
Animal or Elmo?
Animal, no doubt "Woman" "Bad man" best lines ever
Who has inspired you, and why or how?
So many artists have inspired me I could not possibly ever name them all
Anyone in particular?
I'm sure the others won't be hurt
Elsbeth McLean is one, as far as mandalas go, Also, Ginger LeBoutillier, creator of Kindness Rocks.
John Smith is a new awesome mandala painter I found, he hand paints
mandalas that blow my mind. And of course there's Alex Gray, and the sacred hall of mirrors
Jim of "Mandala Jim" was a big inspiration. Sadly he died recently in a tragic accident.
I am inspired by a lot of psychedelic art. I've always loved surrealism but cannot achieve it myself.
Gordana Grahovar does jeweled mandalas. I was inspired to incorporate jewels by her beautiful work.
Do you have any rituals you follow when you work on a piece (i.e.: favorite music, light a candle, etc?)
No I just like it quiet
I was going to ask you this: "Why do you make art," but you beat me to it when you said this: on facebook:
- Autismom's Paintings August 15 · Hi. I'd just like to say that I'm not doing art for the sales or the accolades. Never have. I make art to hopefully leave some sort of mark on this world, in my own small way., with the hope that my art might possibly be enjoyed years after I am gone. That's all I'm after. I take care of my severely Autistic son and I make art. It's not political. It's not a sales tactic. It's just me.
Is there anything you'd like to add? Do people misunderstand your motives?
Sometimes I think people misunderstand yes. They think I'm in it to get money or get famous or something. But that's my purpose - to just make art for me. Basically it's selfish.
I'm glad you are 'selfish' that way. I, and others, have benefited greatly!
Well thanks! It's all about sharing art and maybe leaving something behind when I'm gone. I'm getting older and am realistic about it. Also, I live in the least populated state in the U.S.
Michelle, do you think you have done more art since your son's autism was diagnosed, or have you always been an artist? I mean, is 'art' where you went for respite or peace or (.... whatever... it's different for everyone)?
Well I have always liked art since I was a kid but didn't do art for at least 10 years or until Benton was around 11 years old. He was diagnosed at 2. I think I had a hard time before art. It helps me cope I guess.
One more question, if you don't mind. You told me that LIFE inspires your art.... or inpires you to paint. Can you say more about that?
I guess I am inspired by life around me; inspired by wanting to leave behind a legacy, and maybe by leaving behind beautiful things. .I'm not religious at all so I guess I feel that this is the only way I might be remembered on this earth.
It comforts me to know that my artwork might be around long after I'm dead, and maybe even hanging in someone's house. That's the main reason I switched from digital art to traditional mediums. To leave something behind that is tangible; something that was made lovingly by human hands. Flawed ones.
Please visit the links below to sample Michelle's work in 2016.
Long after I’m dead. "Best Art of 2016"
Silk Mandalas for the Holidays, hand painted mandalas on silk.
Time Lapse with iOrnament. "I paint mandalas by hand... this ap is how I learned."
My art wall 2016. Extensive mandala display