These works are drawn in charcoal, graphite, and pastel. The subject in the green hat was painted in oils. The finished pieces are between 11” x 14” and 16” x 20”.
Some works are rendered from observation (using a live, or three-dimensional subject), and for others I relied on photo references. A technique for color work is to sketch the basic outlines of a subject in charcoal, then fix (seal) the sketch with a spray of shellac. Upon this, I build up color by starting with thin transparent layers of dark, dull color to define the cooler shadows. As the form moves into the light, the color becomes more opaque, lighter and warmer. This method dates back hundreds of years, and is taught today in many ateliers worldwide. Though a typical palette these days often includes colors that were unavailable to the old masters.
One way to justify the time it takes to make good art is to find a subject matter that is so important,so compelling, you’ll want to return to it everyday. For me, that subject is people. Studying the casts is a lesson in being patient with complex forms. Working from the (live) human form, I am intrigued by the stories behind the eyes (the windows to the soul), the landscape of the face, and body language as well. When we see the fleeting limits of opportunity, it becomes highly valued. Landscapes and bowls of fruit look pretty much the same year to year. But, people come and go, especially our kids.
After art school in Chicago, Mike worked in graphic design. In recent years, he’s turned back to the work he enjoyed in school (drawing and painting). Going forward, he’d like to teach more often, and eventually “go out” painting. Charles Hawthorne suggested a great painter is always a student. Mike’s studied with a few great teachers, and he look forward to (always) being a student of art.