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 nature inspires awe, how we feel it deep in our bones, how to express that connection, and what we can learn from it. My perspective has been deeply influenced by opportunities to live, work, and study in rainforests from Mexico to the Bolivian Amazon. At home in Wisconsin, exploring contrasting landscapes formed at the last glacier's edge gives form to a living palette ready for my brush.
I tend to work large scale, painting mostly 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 recently named by the curators at Saatchi Art, the world's leading online art gallery, to "Best of 2023: Painting."
One of the strengths as a painter I've worked to achieve over decades 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.
Process-focused, 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 auto-immune disorder I'm working to overcome.
I don’t begin with a sketch or specific thought, but with openness to the emergence of something unexpected, unexplainable. Standing in front of a big blank canvas, the magic between this moment and what comes next is where I engage. The natural world is still so cryptic in spite of all we've learned. To gain understanding it's important to recognize patterns, rhythms, and connections. Painting reveals things to me. It’s active. It arises symbiotically, holistically, in repetition. It's points in time that lead to the “presence” of a finished piece.
Trained in studio art, graphic design, and landscape architecture, my studio extends to our yard, where I grow oodles of fruits and vegetables, including eight kinds of berries—honeyberries, strawberries, raspberries, aronia, mulberries, goji, kiwiberries, jostaberries, serviceberries. Okay, that's nine. Our yard is also a native plant haven for area wildlife and pollinators.
I love being an artist because it helps me connect to you while honoring my kinship to the natural world. And I'm grateful that my work carries nature's harmony and balance to places all over the world, and to you.
NEWS FLASH!! I have a solo exhibition coming up and you'll be able to view it wherever you live! Inspired by a spiral vine I saw on my hiking adventures, it's called, "What Goes Around." These 15 curvy paintings are a reminder to keep learning, adapting, and reaching. Life is a dynamic journey of growth and change in a series of interconnected cycles. Stay tuned for more info & the opening mid-February!
Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. Her energetic, investment-quality paintings bring balance and harmony
©2023 Michelle Louis All rights reserved. Content and images are property of the artist.