Michael always wanted to be an artist. His mother loves to tell the story of how he once used crayons to color the image on their black-and-white TV set. Wishing to help this eager student, she purchased a drawing kit, Jon Gnagy's Learn to Draw, based on the popular 1950s TV series. Michael spent hours reproducing illustrations in Gnagy's instruction book in charcoal.
When a teenager, he drew "Winky" — the fawn in the Famous Artist's School matchbook ad — and although the ad said no salesman would call, one did. In critiquing Michael's work, he said he had promise, but he was too young to enroll. Living in the country where there were no museums or galleries, Michael spent endless hours poring over books filled with Old Master reproductions and copying them in oil.
Michael also has always loved Nature. Fond of taking long walks through wood and field, during high school he read all of Thoreau, including the entire 14-volume edition of his journals. Michael joined the Thoreau Society at an early age and even wrote an article for their newsletter. Thoreau inspired him to start his own journal, which he has now kept for over 40 years. This love of nature finally led Michael to plein air painting. His first outdoor painting experience was in college, where he painted the river in the school's botanical garden, imitating Monet's Impressionist style. Today, the wild and beautiful occupy the core of his work, with the occasional human element added for contrast.
"Since then," Michael says, "it has been a long road, full of detours, roadside attractions and pitstops. But I've never stopped and I still love it."
Michael continues to paint in oil and pastel, always choosing the most beautiful locations. Currently, he splits his time between Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, and Sedona, Arizona, in the American Southwest. But he is always on the lookout for the next beautiful spot.
Michael once asked his mentor, Ann Templeton, if getting an MFA was important. Ann, a very successful artist and teacher, who herself came from a place far removed from fine art, said, "Not at all." So instead, he has pursued his own self-styled MFA by taking workshops with the best artists and reading widely and painting every day. Today, Michael's award-winning work is in both corporate and private collections. He also teaches workshops throughout North America and is a Contributing Editor for The Artist's Magazine.
Michael's latest book, Through a Painter's Brush: The American Southwest - Painting in the Four Corners States, was released in July 2012.
MPAC, Master Pastellist, Pastel Artists Canada
PSA, Signature Member, Pastel Society of America
PSNM, Signature Member, Pastel Society of New Mexico
Juried Member, Oil Painters of America
Juried Member, Arizona Plein Air Painters
Member, Plein Air Painters of New Mexico
Member, American Impressionist Society
Member, Pastel Painters of Maine
Member, Arizona Pastel Artists Association
Founder, Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy
Founder, "Two Countries, One Bay" Open Studio Tour
Charter Member, Landscape Artists International
Faculty Member, Sedona Arts Center, Sedona, AZ
- Worldwide (2012-present): Plein Air Basics online course for Artist's Network University
- US (2003-present): Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah; Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio; Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Maryland; Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania
- Canada (2006-present): New Brunswick, Ontario
Michael has taught at workshop centers and for art groups such as the following: Green Drake Gallery (Milheim, PA); Art Barn (Valparaiso, IN); Acadia Workshop Center (Southwest Harbor, ME); Sedona Arts Center (Sedona, AZ); Old Forge Arts Center (Old Forge, NY); Sunbury Shores Art & Nature Centre (St Andrews, NB); Pastel Artists Canada (Burlington, ON); New Hampshire Plein Air (Goffstown, NH); Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod (Barnstable, MA); York Art Association (York, ME): Springfield Area Pastelists (Springfield, IL); Los Reyes Gallery (Tubac, AZ); Bay River Art Guild (Daphne, AL); Roswell Museum (Roswell, NM); Hubbard Museum of the American West (Riudoso, NM); ArtCenter Traverse City (Traverse City, MI); Lawrence Academy (Lawrence, MA); Vermont Pastel Society (Montpelier, VT); Cloudcroft Art Workshops (Cloudcroft, NM); Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Painters Association (Baltimore, MD); Water Street Studios (Batavia, IL); Eastport Arts Center (Eastport, ME); Pastel Society of El Paso (El Paso, TX); Ellis County Art Association (Waxahachie, TX); Middlebury Studio School (Middlebury, VT).