OmArtist: How long have you been pursuing your career as a full time artist? What did you leave behind to follow your passion in art?
MS: I sold my first painting when I was in high school. I always knew I was going to be an artist since I first started painting with water colors around age 6. I went into the art business for a little while before pursuing my passion and devoting myself 100 percent being a full time artist. It wasn’t long before I knew creating was what I was and am here to do and not the business aspect of selling art.
OmArtist: Michelle, can you talk to our audience about how you came to realize that you could create art that would promote healing and peace? Was there a clear turning point in your development as an artist that brought you to a space of healing through art?
MS: This question reminds of the chicken and the egg story… what comes first?
Well, for me it was a bit of both. I began my spiritual journey about 7 years ago while living in San Francisco pursuing my career as an artist. As I evolved spiritually, my work evolved. My paintings changed and I began painting intuitively and began the healing journey within. My work guided me and I guided my work. I may have not realized it then but the process of healing was happening and I think others connected with this process when they saw my paintings. Practicing Reiki and other healing modalities later on just solidified the healing process in my work. Namaste means “The Light in me sees the Light in you.” I like to think my work reflects this.
OmArtist: While I enjoyed your series “Awakening”, I could feel your own awakening in the paintings that represent that beautiful series. Can you talk a little about how this series came to you? Was this series inspired by your own life events?
MS: It’s funny you asked about this series specifically because it was a very meaningful one.
It’s true that I was going through my own inner awakening. Looking back it was the ‘start’ for me. The start of a new direction my work was going in, as well as a new direction for my soul’s journey. It was a transition from creating representational art to abstract Art. I was a landscape painter for about 15 years. I began painting a series of “Sky” images adding gold and silver leafing together with my oil paint. It was what was pouring out of me at the time. Looking back it was the perfect transition from painting landscapes to abstraction. Skies represent so much. Skies are an expanse of space and I was expanding on the inside. I was painting the Universe and heavens that I discovered existed within me.
I had a day to come up with the title of my series for my exhibition and when I went to sleep that night the word “Awakening” came to me in big bold white letters in the middle of the night and I knew that was it.
OmArtist: As a Primordial Sound Meditation instructor, as well as a certified Reiki Master, how do you think these energetically focused expertise contribute to the creation of your artwork?
MS: Since my work is a reflection of me, I think it represents all that I am. Yes I practice both meditation and Reiki however I also practice many other things. The beauty with creating is all that is you and at the same time all that is not you is channeled, transformed, and translated in to the work.
Similar to meditation, I am not my body or mind. I am my art. I am spirit.
OmArtist: Do you feel connecting (ie. meditating, prayer etc) plays a roll in your creative process and/or success as an artist?
MS: Very much so. Meditation allows one to align and connect with their inner light and higher selves. It’s about going inwards when so much of todays world is about directing our energy out. But truth is we have to go “in” before we can go “out.” Since meditating is about connecting with my soul, and delving even deeper than that, it strengthens the ability for my soul to speak through my art and communicate my evolution. Painting like meditation also allows me to transcend duality.
OmArtist: While I think all artists hope to share their own journey through their art, As I take in each of your paintings, I can’t help but to feel as though the titles and the work lead me by the hand through some of your life’s work in personal growth and your spiritual awakening. What are your thoughts on a comment like this? Was this intentional or the divine at work?
MS: I appreciate your question and I guess my work is more transparent than I thought. It reminds me of a quote I put in my book: You can’t fake your creations… authentic art reflects truth. My paintings are the left behind foot prints of what brought me here today. Each piece was like a story to the tapestry of my life that is still being weaved. I like to say that a single painting represents a single thought thats now passed on and transformed. I appreciate what it has given me and the gift of my healing process, but I am not attached nor do I look back on what was. Instead, I like to direct my energy to what I can and will create today. The process of painting still brings healing to my inner being. I believe art is a force of healing for the artist and the viewer. Its a way of channeling peace.
OmArtist: Michelle, It is said that the teacher appears when the student is ready. You’ve been an instructor at University of California Berkeley as well as instructing workshops and so much more. Would you share with our audience what it means to you to provide instruction and guidance to other artists? Also, do you think teaching impacts your work in some way?
MS: I think teaching is helpful for many reasons. For me, it helped solidify what I already knew but also articulate my thoughts while I am creating, which is not an easy thing to do. Being more visual, having to speak about the process of creating and breaking it down was a challenge for me. I think it allowed me to be even more conscious of every stroke, every thought, that went through me. Sharing that inner process and dialogue with an audience is intimate but also rewarding.
OmArtist: Michelle, thank you so much for talking with us. You are truly the embodiment of “creativity with purpose” and we couldn’t be more honored to interview you. You are an inspiration to many and we appreciate the energy you bring to the world. Sat Nam!