In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we look at a special commission done by Michael Colpitts…
The Real and Unreal
Although much of the work of resident artist Michael Colpitts could be classified as abstract, not all of his pieces start from that same area. Michael draws his inspiration from a multitude of things, from his experience as a pilot to the people of the many places he has lived – including Spain and India. One of the greatest of these influences is the beauty of nature, something especially prevalent in the world-famous red sandstone formations of Sedona.
This natural elegance is the inspiration behind Michael’s many Abstract Flowers. He has done them intermittently for a while, but recently came upon a challenge when tasked with creating an abstract flower piece as a commission.
While exhibiting at an art show – one of many that he travels to during a year – Michael started a conversation with a man who seemed interested in Michael’s pieces. “It was so great,” Michael tells us. “It was a bit slow at the show, so we just talked for at least a couple hours straight. He told me things about his life, and I told him things about mine. It was so cool to make that connection.” The man did not purchase anything that day, but took Michael’s business card before he left. However, that was not to be the end of it. “I just took it as a nice experience, and didn’t really expect anything. But then about a month and a half later I get an e-mail from the guy – he wanted me to do a commission as a surprise gift for his wife’s birthday!”
Specifically, he wanted Michael to create a new abstract flowers piece. The two worked out details, including size and where it was going to go in the man’s house. Then Michael went to work. At a certain point, though, Michael felt he had hit a bit of a wall. “There was this one flower I wanted to put in, and I just couldn’t seem to visualize its shape. I don’t usually think in realistic terms – and I don’t really want the flowers to look super realistic – so things like that can be a challenge.”
So, Michael decided to ask fellow Creative Gateways artist Laura Hines for help. Not only is much of Laura’s work known for its intricate detail, but Laura also has a background in natural science illustration. “I asked for her help in sort of sketching the outline for this flower. She comes at things from a very different angle than I do, and it was very cool to see. She made some suggestions that I never would have thought of.” The two worked together and quickly achieved the result Michael was looking for.
“It was a great example of the collaborative environment of the gallery,” Laura explains. “I was flattered that Michael would ask for my help, and more than happy to give it. It was funny, because we would both look at the other’s work and go ‘I can’t do what you do.’ But that’s what’s so nice about working with the other artists here. We’re all big fans of each other’s work, and so collaboration is incredibly artistically stimulating.”
… to Bloom
The resulting piece is an unambiguous success. It incorporates many of Michael’s various techniques, including using fabric and textiles from around the world. The items of focus are easily read as flowers, but retain their wonderfully abstract and ethereal qualities. Perhaps even more than his previous abstract flowers, this piece captures an essence of growth. You can practically feel the flowers stretching upwards and blossoming, with one in particular releasing its joy in a fine, colorful mist. A serene happiness permeates the canvas.
As for the client? “He was very pleased and excited,” says Michael, “which made me very please and excited.”
A Garden of Art
Although his newest piece has already found a home, you can see many more of Michael’s abstract flowers – as well as the work of all our resident artists – at the Creative Gateways gallery, open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm!