Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Featured Favorite: Michael Bailey

I really enjoy sharing quality work from outstanding artists that you may not be familiar with, so I'm excited to finally get back to my Friday Favorites feature.  I'd like to introduce you to Michael Bailey, a very talented realist painter whose technical skills are as impressive as his wide range of media.  He's equally proficient with watercolor and graphite drawing, as well as other painting media.

No matter what the subject or medium, his love of the natural world is what draws me to Michael's work.  You can see the reverence for nature in every brushstroke; the images speak clearly of his connection with the land of the Arizona mountains and deserts.  Michael was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his work and his views on art.

Canyon Light

Can you tell us a little about your artwork and your artistic process?

     The majority of what I do is realistic art. I guess you could classify me as a landscape artist primarily, though I enjoy still life, figurative, and once in a while will play around with some surrealistic/fantasy themes for fun and just to break away from things for a while. I have been concentrating on graphite on paper the last couple of years but have also worked watercolor, mixed media, and am itching to get back to oil painting. The process for me starts with the idea or theme which I begin to explore with sketches and reference photos. Once I have a composition I like, it’s then pretty straight forward from that point, dependent on whether I feel the subject better translates for me as a more highly rendered graphite piece, or if I’m going to paint it. 
Front Range Storm

What inspires you as an artist? Why do you create art? 

      My inspiration comes from just about everywhere, being a realist. I live in the Southwest, so the landscape and the quality of light here are my main motivators. In between works I will try and explore the area for new ideas, sketching on site and taking lots of photos. I’m respondent to dreams also; the next painting I am going to start is an image in a dream I had.
      I create art because I simply cannot stop. The way I look at and feel about things is always from the perspective of an artist. I’m always very subjectively analyzing things as I look at them, composing in my head, thinking about the lines I would use to draw them or the colors to paint them. My right brain sometimes works overtime, which is a good thing.
Bridge Partners

What types of themes, ideas, or concepts do you explore within your artwork?

     - I rarely work in a series, though I guess I should to explore a subject more completely, so themes aren’t always a continuous thread in my pieces. The one thing that does show up constantly is light and shadow. I am always trying to depict that dramatic contrast of light and shadow and that I think is because of the light out here. Things are always lit a bit more dramatically here in the desert. Textures also are a big part of my work, for instance I love drawing weathered wood.


Are there any artists that inspire you? If so, who would they be, and why?

The Renaissance masters of course, especially Rembrandt and Caravaggio who used light so superbly. My biggest inspiration may come from Andrew Wyeth. His compositions and the use of light and textures always inspire me to improve every piece as each of his works did. There are tons of contemporary realists nowadays who inspire me, Jeremy Lipking, Malcolm Liepke,  Brad Kunkle, Michael Klein, just to name a few. I love how each explores realism and how each are technical masters of their craft.


For you, what do you think the role of the artist is?

      I believe primarily, and on a very basic level, an artist is a communicator who uses a visual language, and that is the most universal of languages. An artist communicates beauty, or emotions, tragedy, history. He brings life to life.
What’s the best and worst part about being an artist? How do you stay motivated?

      The best part is that you get to do what you absolutely love to do more than anything else. It is said that a person whose career choice is his passion in life will never work a single day. The worst part is the standards you try to achieve with your work are not always at that moment attainable. You become your own worst critic and it’s at times very, very frustrating.
      Motivation for me is learning something new every time I sit at the drawing table or at my easel. When I learn something new about my art I am learning something new about myself and both are improved.

And finally, what advice would you give to emerging artists? 

      The best advice I could give is a piece given to me by a successful watercolorist:
     “Brush miles” count for more than anything else in your career. Keep on doing it, keep on improving, learn everything you can about what you do and the passion will grow along with your art.
 To see more of his work, please visit Michael's website:  Michael Bailey Fine Art  and blog:  Crosshatching's

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weird Light, Weird Life

Recently, in the midst of several straight days of persistent rain and ugly grayness, the sun unexpectedly came out. I had all but given up on seeing the sun when a hole in the clouds, I suppose, had allowed it to peek through for a few short moments. 

 The quality of the light was eerie, and impossible to describe in words.   I ran outside with my camera, not wanting to miss the opportunity to photograph the weird light.  After about the 5th shot, the light was gone.

It occurred to me that this two-minute experience was a pretty good metaphor for life. Maybe not as good as "life is like a box of chocolates", but still.  Just when it seems the darkness will never end, the light appears. When you're immersed in darkness, it's easy to miss it; we tend to see what we think we see, and habit is a powerful force. Things can change in a flash, when you least expect it.

If my metaphor is too obtuse, or too blatantly cliche, all I'm saying is this: when the stress eases a little, and you have a few spare moments, grab the opportunity.  I was beginning to doubt that the opportunity to make art would ever come again.  I don't mean to be preachy or over-dramatic, but I need to remind myself that the habit of not not making art can be overcome- I hope.

Okay, I'm going to go make art now.