“ … I think an artist can never draw too much.
Keep learning from looking at other artists, past and present and just experiencing life.”
Can you tell us where you were born and a little history about your childhood?
Born and raised into an artistic family in the San Fernando Valley. I was always restless there and knew that I’d leave when I got old enough because we’d go on vacations to beautiful places where there was more nature. My grandparents where social justice activists, also my grandfather was a painter and we made art together when I was little. Nature and the arts were valued in my family and both have influenced my life and art today.
Is there an event or experience that helped form who you are today?
There isn’t one experience that sticks out. As a child some of my happiest times were making art with my grandfather and older sister, Working directly with animals has helped form me (I’ve worked as a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator and much of my art depicts wildlife, but in a twisted manner). Also doing environmental activism has definitely helped form me and my art. Before these adult experiences I would say just being out in nature, hiking and spending time in wilderness have been big influences.
What was the first piece of art that you remember creating? The media?
Well it wasn’t a permanent piece of art, but I remember coloring on the stairs of a vacation rental and my mom getting upset with me. I was 2. The media was Crayola crayons.
What generally inspires you to create a piece?
It depends on the piece. I collect magazines and photos, and sometimes a funny photo of an animal will inspire a piece. For my political environmental pieces it is usually some situation that I find outrageous that inspires me to create. And sometimes it’s a little of both. Also, my husband has a sense of humor that is similarly bizarre as mine, and he eggs me on. Sometimes an idea for a piece will come out of a ridiculous conversation that we are having where both of us are trying to out-do each other in outrageousness.
If there was an artist, dead or alive, that you could spend 24 hours with; who would it be and what would you do?
That would have to be Remedios Varo. Her art is fascinating and I would love to gab with her about metaphysics and maybe play surrealist games with her and Leonora Carrington. And hear about how it was being a woman in the circle of surrealists she hung with. She had a fascinating life; she was one of the artists who had to flee Europe during WWII. She ended up spending the rest of her life in Mexico City .
If you’d let me pick one more artist it would be Leonor Fini- another surrealist painter. There was a fantastic retrospective of her work in SF earlier this year. These pioneering women surrealists made amazing art.
What materials, specific brand of products/tools, do you prefer to use? A favorite? And why?
I use acrylics, generally Golden brand. Love their gloss medium and varnish. I started out in college using oils but I can’t handle the fumes…they give me headaches. So I’ve learned to love acrylics, and for the way I paint they work really well.
Is there a technique, procedure or tip that you have discovered, you could pass onto other artists? A specific tidbit of craft, advice or mechanical expertise?
I love my wet palette. It’s completely transformed my acrylic technique because the paint stays wet. Now I can’t imagine working without it. In terms of craft I think an artist can never draw too much. Keep learning from looking at other artists, past and present and just experiencing life. So much of what influences my art is just my life experiences and getting out and seeing the world. And have a knowledge of art history. That is invaluable.
What is your favorite word? Last song you chose to listen to?
My favorite word is “blatherskite”. Isn’t it great? It means an irritating person.
Last song was “Excuse Me Mr.” by Ben Harper, the live version. Great song.
If you could pick one piece of art to own, out of the world’s museums, personal collections and galleries, what would it be?
I only get to pick one? Darn. Okay, I guess it would have to be Bosch’s - “Garden of Earthly Delights”. I want all the panels!
Of all your works, what is your own personal favorite? What was the thought or vision behind the work and why is it your favorite?
My painting “Luddites”. (below) It is my fantasy of what animals might do if they had opposable thumbs. I like the narrative quality of the painting and it has quite a few elements that are interesting, like a cougar using an acetylene torch and raccoons carrying off one of the tires. It was fun to think of new animals to add and activities to have them engaged in.
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(This entry was originally posted on 9/23/10 )animal art, artist interview, eclectix interview, environmental art, flora and fauna art, Michelle Waters, Michelle Waters artist, Michelle Waters interview, wet palette
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