In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us a behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration and creative challenges. Today, we look at the inspiration and history behind one of Michael Colpitts paintings…
Inspiration from Past to Present
Resident artist Michael Colpitts works in many different mediums to create his mixed media paintings. These mediums often including gesso, fabrics and papers, light charcoal, modeling paste, grog, sand, thick oil colors, acrylic washes and transparent oil washes to create a lovely, luminescent quality. Through these materials, Michael focuses on creating a composition that leads the viewer’s gaze and creates interest within the piece. He wants to portray two different perspectives so the mixed media isn’t what stands out the most but becomes a complimentary aspect of it. He creates pieces that from afar, explore movement, uplifting emotions, and focal points. Only when the viewer gets up close does Michael want them to notice the array of mediums in his pieces. By doing this, he is able to create three dimensional qualities in his two dimensional works without those qualities of the piece becoming the focal point.
Each new piece by Michael comes with introducing past methods to new goals. He often gathers new inspiration from his past paintings, either when seeing them in a new light or focusing on a specific style he used and expanding that technique into new areas. One painting he most recently was inspired by was a piece he made for his niece. This painting was done over 10 years ago and he was so shocked by what he did in it that he caught himself thinking, “who made that?” Looking at that piece for him was like unwrapping forgotten emotions and styles he had used. For Michael, he wanted to discover that part of himself again and see what his recent styles could add to it. With permission from his niece, he set out to create a painting that merged this past piece into a new one.
When Michael first started this new piece, he wanted to capture the same movements he did in his past work. This challenge of duplication was more difficult than Michael first anticipated. Part of what makes Michael’s pieces so unique is his ability to capture feeling and techniques in the present moment and add the spontaneous brush strokes as he feels them come along. Michael expressed how he was focusing so much on repeating what he already did, that he lost the “feelings and spontaneity” that felt good to him in the process of creating this painting. What he wanted to capture was the newness of a forgotten time, but without the freedom to expand on the set idea, he felt constrained in creating an original piece.
After coming to this realization, Michael took a looser approach to this piece. While still finding inspiration from his previous painting, he gave himself free reign to add in other colors, show his new techniques, and evoke the feelings he was missing. With this, new doors were opened and he found himself creating sections in the piece that spoke of weight and other parts that expressed fluidity. He spoke of how he viewed the paintings as creating interest even in the quiet areas. This included the look of depth in the open spaces to balance the activity happening in other areas of the piece. Michael went back to his openly-expressive nature, creating a wonderfully balanced composition and expressing feelings of remembrance towards “Concealed Moments.”
Michael continues to create exceptional new pieces, constantly learning from his past and challenging himself in the present moment. To see more of Michael’s works or discover new artwork by our other resident artists, visit Creative Gateways Open Studios & Gallery, open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Come to explore the gallery, meet the artists, and take home amazing works of art!