Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. Her abstract landscape paintings document life, well-spent, in wild places.
©2020 Michelle Louis All rights reserved. Content and images are property of the artist.
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Facing a big, blank canvas I don't usually begin with a clear picture in my mind or sketchbook of a future painting. Walking in nature as part of my daily art practice cultivates a rich palette of movement, color, and form ready for my brush... I start painting. What it becomes emerges from the work and the paint and the moment. As the work progresses, the canvas suggests a place or experience that I clearly recognize and reinforce.
"My paintings are titled after they are finished. I paint from remembered landscapes
that I carry with me - and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed.
I could certainly never mirror nature. I would more like to paint what it leaves with me."
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Halfway Prairie Wildlife Area is located across from the Indian Lake County Park segment of the Ice Age National Trail. For many decades, the abandoned structures were home to grazing cows. When driving by, I imagine its farming days and the calloused hands of early settlers placing foundation stones gathered from newly-opened prairie soil. Today this deserted farmstead is a recent addition to our public lands and a worthwhile visit. The old stone buildings were somewhat thoughtlessly cleared of the trees that wove in and around, supporting the cracked and leaning ruins. I suspect they will not last long. Already, several sections have collapsed- a reminder that all things return to the earth. It's a beautiful and haunting landscape when the sun is low in the sky.
Paul Klee once said, "Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see." My interest lies in seeing and revealing simultaneous moment and eon, thought and action, order and entropy. I draw inspiration from nature, but also from artists such as Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, and Grace Hartigan. I love Abstract Expressionism because it's big and physical. The materials speak- drip, dribble, scribble, scratch, slosh, dab, slash. On either side- creating it or viewing it- one must step outside of self to a place of fearlessness.