Another year's gone by and I'm noticing some new folks around here. So first of all—thanks! You can't imagine how much that means. I'm Michelle Louis from Wisconsin, USA. A full-time painter who's also a naturalist, I'm curious about how I experience the land, how I feel it deep in my bones, how to express that relationship, and what I can learn from it. My paintings resonate with the seasonal patterns, dynamic forces, and synergies that connect us.
I tend to work large scale, painting with acrylic on big canvases tacked to my studio wall. My drive to paint is indefatigable. I work hard. And I'm honored to have been selected by the curators at Saatchi Art, the world's leading online art gallery, as one of their "Best of 2021."
One of the strengths as a painter I've worked to achieve is the ability to silence the constant stream of distraction and self-criticism, connect with earth's natural rhythms, and see what my brush and paint will do. Exploring wild places in nature by myself is another way I'm able to tune in. On these kinds of adventures, I'm more aware of things beyond my usual perception. You might spot them in my paintings. Shapes, lines, and patterns appear, disappear, and then recur. Some make sense to me. Others, not so much.
I don’t begin with a sketch or specific thought, but with being open to the emergence of something unexpected, unexplainable. I love the excitement of facing a large-scale, blank canvas. The magic that occurs between the present moment and what comes next reflects nature’s alchemy and that’s where I engage. The natural world is still largely cryptic in spite of our many discoveries. What we understand is based on repeated patterns, methods, and materials. My work is that kind of process. It’s active. It arises symbiotically, holistically, in repetition. It's a map of points in time that leads to the “presence” of a finished piece.
Abstract expressionist in process, I'm kind of obsessed with how the natural world communicates with me and how I communicate that relationship. I love abstraction as opposed to more realistic work because it challenges my courage as a painter and your openness as a viewer. I especially love painting big because it allows my whole body to join the process, over and over, in silent rhythm. It's so satisfying and has the added bonus of being great therapy for the painful and exhausting auto-immune disorder I'm working to overcome.
Trained in studio art, graphic design, and landscape architecture, my studio extends to our yard, where I grow many edibles, including eight kinds of berries—honeyberries, strawberries, raspberries, aronia, mulberries, goji, kiwiberries, jostaberries, serviceberries. Okay, that's nine. Thinking of adding goumi berries this year. Have you tried growing them? Please share your experience.
I love being an artist because it helps me cultivate connection while honoring my kinship to the natural world. Thanks for looking and connecting!
You can view my newest series of paintings, still underway, here.
Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. Her abstract landscape paintings cultivate connection to the lands she explores.
©2022 Michelle Louis All rights reserved. Content and images are property of the artist.