I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Michelle practically my whole life. My creative spirit found a kindred creative spirit in her at the age of 8 and we’ve been friends ever since. I’ve always admired Michelle’s work and the absolute joy she finds in exploring new ideas and mediums. Her pyrography work absolutely blows my mind and I was so excited to talk more with her about her artistic journey and what it’s meant for her.
"I’ve been creating art my whole life."
Finding my medium of choice was a journey in and of itself. I first began painting at around age 9. My first painting had lots of room for growth. Now that I’ve had years to practice, I haven’t painted in some time but I do still love it. After a love/hate relationship with baking and decorating cakes, I found an old, beat-up soldering gun in my dad’s garage and a slab of old wood and a lightbulb went off. More than 40 commissions later, my creative juices just keep flowing. I can’t get enough of experimenting with color, different pyrography methods, and improving my skill set! There’s something about that personal bonfire that just fires me up (pun absolutely intended).
What does artmaking mean to you?
Creation is my passion. Ever since I was young, I found reprieve in it, be it painting or sketching, photography or sculpting. When I was growing up, I found solace in meandering our 4 acres of woods and seeing the beauty all around me, in the creek or the trees. Watching the sun peek through the canopy on a chill autumn day is one of my favorite sights.. We’re all so eager to move on to what’s next that we forget to see what’s around us. It’s a lesson I’ve also struggled with lately, but COVID 19 checked me back into place like an angry hockey player at his first practice of the season.
"Creation is my passion."
How long have you been creating?
I’ve been working as an artist professionally since 2011. Passionately with no intent to sell? Pretty sure I came out of the womb with a beret, French cigarette, an ascot, and a portfolio of work that I worked on in-utero.
"I’ve been working as an artist professionally since 2011."
What inspires you?
Honestly, something that really inspires me are old buildings with chipping paint, broken-down wood, and collapsed structures. To me, I see nothing but beauty. Wisdom. Experience. Those buildings have seen things. Some of them remember and leave clues about the many stories they have to tell. I embrace the laugh lines my face is developing, and the stretchmarks my son has given me. My body is one of those buildings, beautiful and slowly maturing, decaying. For now, I live and share my memories with those who enter my heart by way of my creations.
"I embrace the laugh lines my face is developing, and the stretchmarks my son has given me."
How has creating art helped you navigate life’s challenges?
Creating motivates me to see everything I can, to welcome varied experiences and integrate them within myself. To create for others and see the smile on their faces when they unveil the creations I’ve customized for them. To take the turmoil inside of me, gather it up, and pour it into something tangible. It is my therapy.
"To take the turmoil inside of me, gather it up, and pour it into something tangible."
What’s your medium of choice? Why?
Pyrography, for sure. The idea of taking something that so many others are eager to toss into a fire and destroy, and using that force of destruction for creation, so that it may be saved and preserved, I love it. I also made a live edge dining table with my husband shortly before we became pregnant and it was a wonderful way to connect. We now feed our son at the table and he loves caressing the smooth sides of the table and admiring the grain. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, evidently.
"Pyrography, for sure. The idea of taking something that so many others are eager to toss into a fire and destroy, and using that force of destruction for creation, so that it may be saved and preserved, I love it."
What are your favorite subjects or themes?
Honestly anything, as long as I’m creating it. I also do welcome signs and anniversary plaques for folks with my calligraphy, but frankly there’s nothing more gratifying than having a client request that I take some random items and come up with a concept FOR them. I love serving others, hence the name of my business, At your Artistic SERVICE.
"I love serving others, hence the name of my business, At your Artistic SERVICE."
How do you know when your work is done?
Well, an artist’s work is never truly finished. But, for all intents and purposes, I can feel it. I try to step back and see the work through another’s eyes. If it’s something I would personally go “wow” about while at a gallery and seeing it for the first time, I’m feeling okay about it.
"...for all intents and purposes, I can feel it."
When you are working through problems in your work, who do you talk to?
My husband or friends. Most of my commissions are less about relatability and more about customization for families. So, even if my friends aren’t super passionate about art, they can appreciate the idea of a warm and loving sign or plaque gifted to a spouse. With the vision pieces I create, I’ll usually communicate with one of my best friends who has a degree in art education. She’s also passionate about creating and loves giving insight on what she sees in my pieces.
"My husband or friends."
What advice would you give you your younger self?
Don’t be so critical of yourself and keep creating. Don’t let it get to you that you’re not doing well in high school art class, because really you’re creating for yourself, not for a teacher. Let the ideas in your mind come to fruition. Learn to focus on one concept at a time, instead of collecting hobbies that will stack up in your attic one day. It is impossible to be a jane of all trades, but absolutely feasible to be a master of none.
"Don’t be so critical of yourself and keep creating."
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you so much for this, Liss <3
View more of Michelle's work or contact her for custom commission work on Facebook.