Mike Monville has a long history of involvement with the art community in the Lapeer area. I could probably write a book about this very talented, completely unassuming man ... er, someone else could write a book, I'm sure I only know a fraction of what there is to know. For this post I am only going to write about his influence on my artistic growth. But I have to include at least a quick mention of him being involved in the early discussions of bringing an art gallery to downtown Lapeer, and moving the Lapeer Art Association from their home in a single building at a rural intersection a few minutes outside of town into said downtown gallery. I was not part of those particular discussions, my role at the time was focused on other parts of the implementation plan. But Mike and I became part of the same team once the gallery opened and an advisory committee was being formed to help guide its growth, which we both have served on since its inception.
Over the years I have gotten to know Mike and have fallen in love with his artistic style - a very loose & light, almost ethereal depiction of mostly nature themes. His wife Donna is also an artist (and just a generally awesome lady) who specializes in woven baskets and beeswax candles.
I have taken two art classes taught by Mike. The first, Pen and Ink Drawing was held a few years ago at Three Waters Studio at his home which is at the dead-end of a country road providing plenty of artistic inspiration in the surrounding landscape. (In fact, one of the Plein Aire oil painting sites taught by Jason Cornish was at the edge of a pond on Mike & Donna's property - this was the result.) Since I like drawing with ink anyway, this class was a good fit for me, I learned a lot and feel my technique greatly improved. One of the pieces I completed during that class (the one with the cardinal) recently sold at the annual LAA Winter Show.
After getting comfortable with oil painting through the coaching of Jason Cornish and a few others, I was ready to try something else. In June 2011 I attended a week-long acrylic painting workshop at the home studio of local artist/educator/LAA member/friend Jacquie Piechowski. We were a class of two: just one other artist and myself, and Jacquie, which made for a very casual friendly week of creativity, surrounded by nature. It was like Art Day Camp for adults.
Jacquie has exhibited her work at Gallery 194 several times, both in the Upper Gallery as a member of the Lapeer Art Association, and in the Main Gallery as recently as last month as one of two featured artists in the "Compositions of Nature" exhibit. I think of her style as semi-abstract realism with nature as the principal subject matter.
During the week-long workshop I learned about the diversity of acrylic paint, how it can be applied thick or thin, layered, splattered, mixed with various mediums designed to provide added texture, etc. I also learned how hard it is for me to be free and expressive when I paint. My natural inclination is to be detail-focused. It's like I'm trying to draw with a paintbrush, which doesn't really work. After this class I understood better how to focus on shapes and mass, light and dark, and save details for last - but will likely have to continue working on this for quite a while until it feels natural to me.
The first two images below resulted from that week-long workshop. Both were painted from photos. In the "Storm Front" painting, I debated about whether to include the chairs and fire pit as in the original photo, deciding to leave them out because they kind of intimidated me. A couple years later I reworked the painting a bit and added them, as shown in the third image.
And, I realized I needed a brush-up on color theory. Sure, I remembered it from art classes way back when ... sort of ... but with Jason's help it started to come back to me.
Jason is a busy guy with a full time job and a family, and doesn't seem to have much time for art these days, and doesn't seem to have a website any more or else I would have linked to it by now. But this article on one of his past exhibits gives a bit of background:
Urban Eden article
Some examples of Jason's work: