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Interview with BoldBrush Finalist Michelle Dunaway

by Brian Sherwin on 12/21/2010 10:17:34 AM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.



Light Through an Open Door by Michelle Dunaway

Brian Sherwin:  You are a September 2010 finalist of the BoldBrush Painting Competition-- selected by juror Daniel Keys. Why did you decide to enter the BoldBrush Painting Competition? Can you describe your reaction upon learning that you had been selected as a finalist by judge Daniel Keys?

Michelle Dunaway: I had seen the contest on Facebook, this was my first time entering and I'm honored to be chosen as a finalist.

BS:  As you know, the BoldBrush Painting Competition is run by the people behind FASO artist websites. Have you used FASO’s service?

MD: I haven't used their services, but I've heard good things from other artists .

BS: I’ve been thinking lately about the following statement--  “Painting is dead.” Said statement often enters debates about concerning the state of art today-- specifically in mainstream discussions. In my opinion, painting is alive and well-- is there anything that you would like to add to that?

MD: To say painting is dead is as ridiculous as to say writing is dead. We may have a limited number of colors or words with which to express our ideas, but we as human beings are always evolving and having new experiences and insights and therefore our creations and what we have to say through them are always evolving. There will always be a need to express our own individual inspirations and the same need to experience others individual expressions. Those are the things that expand our souls.

BS: Michelle, tell our readers more about your art background-- for example, do you have formal training in art or do you consider yourself self-taught?

MD: I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. In fact, my first memory ever is of seeing drawings of people in a book and being utterly fascinated. I remember the book being really huge, and it's not that it was huge, I was only 2 years old! People, faces and hands have always intrigued me the most. I drew, mainly from books growing up and then attended the Art Center college of Design in Pasadena CA when I was 20. Later I sought out instruction with artists I admired.

BS: What can you tell us in regards to your creative process and your studio practice in general? Do follow a specific schedule or do you create sporadically?

MD: I like to get into my studio around 8 or 9am . Before painting though, I take some time to think about what I'm going to be painting , if there are any questions I need to ask myself before beginning, to set an intention for the work. I usually paint through the day breaking for lunch, then work till about 4:30pm or 5pm .

In that last hour or so before sunset I usually spend some time outdoors or looking through art books-- or writing in order to focus on doing something inspiring. Many times I'll paint again late in the evening after having dinner with friends--  stating at around 10pm and continue to paint until midnight. It varies depending on what deadlines I have.

BS:  Can you give our readers some insight concerning your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you directly?

MD: The usual suspects, Sargent, Zorn, Sorolla, Schmid. Jeremy Lipking and I have been friends for almost 10 years now and paint together often. His paintings are breathtaking to me. Recently I've had the joy of getting to paint with Richard Schmid and his wife, Nancy Guzik, and have absorbed so much just being around these two master artists.

BS: Life experiences often guide the creative direction of an artist. Are your past experiences reflected in the work that you create today? If so, how?

MD: I think every artist is a culmination of their past experiences and present day inspirations. Many times a subject that I'm inspired to paint simultaneously awakens me to a new insight and makes me reminiscent of a previous one. Sometimes it is translated in even the simplest gesture or movement of the model or even the play of light. Painting is a narrative of what we pay attention to as individuals , how we see life , and what we respond to on different levels.

BS: Do you strive to convey a specific message to viewers of your artwork? What do you hope individuals take from the viewing experience? 

MD: I hope to convey an appreciation of everyday fleeting moments, and what a gift it is to experience those extraordinary moments. My greatest hope would be that someone would take with them a greater awareness of what is around them everyday... the beauty, the mystery, the connection to each other and in some way, through their own gifts, express that in their life for others to enjoy and be inspired by.

BS: Finally, is there anything else that you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

MD: My goal is to just continue to express, with more clarity and boldness the best I can, the things that make me appreciate life


To learn more about Michelle Dunaway visit her website at To learn more about the BoldBrush competition please visit


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin


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Related Posts:

Interview with BoldBrush Finalist Trent Gudmundsen

Interview with BoldBrush Finalist Sheldon Saint

September 2010 BoldBrush Painting Contest Winners!

Michelle Dunaway - pensive, provocative portraiture

Topics: FineArtViews

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Stede Barber
Dear Brian,
Thank you for a lovely interview; Michelle, your work is beautiful, and I appreciate your routine. I am thinking that as long as we keep painting, young people in our environment have us as a role model, just as we did when we were young.

Happy Holidays,

Jeff Yeomans
Painting is dead? I remember in the early 90s, the saying was that computers would eliminate artists jobs. To some extent that was true. But many artists who shifted their skills to other areas found new careers (as painters). Electronic media is cool, but it doesn't compare to the craft of painting well, and producing work that over time leaves an enduring permanent legacy.

Paintings are some of the most highly valued objects ever created.
If you create substantial work, it's also a chance to leave your footprints in the sands of time, and that's pretty amazing.

Joanne Benson
Brian and Michelle, Good interview. I always enjoy hearing what motivates fellow artists. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful work!


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