Michelle Doidge

Can you tell us about yourself and your background as an artist/maker?

Art has always played a significant part in my life and I have been a practising artist for over 30 years. Most of my skills have been largely self-taught but also gained through amazing teachers at art classes that I have attended. My portfolio of work is ever expanding - both through my own experimentations as well as a number of private commissions.

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

There are always lots of ideas whirring around in my head! Quite often though, once I start trying to translate the images down on canvas, I end up going down a different route to the one originally intended as the painting evolves which can be very exciting seeing an image emerging from a blank canvas. I often have a number of pieces on the go at any given time in various stages of completion. As an artist I love to experiment with a range of different styles and mediums and I always strive to stretch myself. I mainly work in oils, ( I like using palette knives with oils ), pastels and metallic acryllics and in all my work I try to capture form and texture. The creative process can take a number of forms. I may be inspired by a landscape or a favourite place or I may have ideas randomly coming into my head. I try to get these down on canvas or paper as soon as I am able, even in a rough form, so that I can capture those thoughts and images and move them from my head! If I don't complete the painting there and then I will return to complete the artwork at a later date. Each piece is unique - some can take weeks before I am happy with them while others may take just a couple of hours. Before I sign off a painting I will always ask for feedback from my family especially my two sons who offer me honest, constructive feedback and brilliant suggestions if they feel a painting needs a bit of tweaking. And they are generally always right! The most exciting thing about creating a painting is not knowing exactly how it will look when it is finished.

Where you do usually work from?

My studio is in the loft. It's a bit cramped and a little chaotic up here as I'm having to share the space with a Hornby train set , a stash of hundreds of old photos and children's toys we haven't had the heart to part with ( my sons are now 22 and 20! ). But it does the job and the light is great and I have an amazing view looking towards the Lickey Hills and the Waseley Hills. I always paint listening to Radio 2! My studio is my little sanctuary and I can lose myself up there for hours. In the evenings I work downstairs and at times I completely take over the kitchen table and dining room table which are generally littered with several of my pieces in varying stages of completion..

Have you developed any unique or unusual techniques in your work?

I love to include texture in many of my pieces. This may include using palette knives or applying oil painting thickly onto the canvas. However, the more unconventional method I have adopted over the years to create a 3D effect is through the use of polyfilla (other fillers are available – haha!). I use the fillers to build up and sculpt a piece of artwork. Once I have achieved the desired effect I will then start to put paint on the canvas.

Tell us about a favourite piece of work and what it means to you.

I don't have a favourite painting but I absolutely love French Impressionist painters and Turner. When I first went to Paris many years ago, I was excited to visit the Musee D'Orsay, home to many famous impressionist paintings. On first seeing them for real and not in a text book, up close and personal, I was totally overcome with emotion. I was completely blown away by the fact I was in the same room as a Monet or a Degas. That first sense of awe and the fact that a painting could move me to tears has stayed with me to this day.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

I am constantly inspired by the natural world and I am lucky enough to live just a stone's throw from the ancient countryside of North Worcestershire. Landscapes, skies and sunsets often feature in my work, as do the unspoilt seascapes of favourite coastal destinations across the country especially the Isles of Scilly and the Scottish Highlands. I love the changing face of nature and I especially love studying skies and sunsets which constantly fascinate and move me.

What advice would you have for artists who are just starting out?

I still feel I am starting out on my art journey as I am constantly learning everyday. What I would say to anyone considering taking up art is to “just go for it”. It is a way of expressing yourself and your emotions, a way to relax, a way to communicate and it is also a great way to meet people and make friends.

If you sell your work, can you tell us more about how you do this?

All of the pieces I have sold over the years have been through private commissions. People have seen my work and then asked me to paint their favourite scene, place, pet or just want something a "bit different". I now have my own website and have an Instagram account and have an ever growing number of followers which is very exciting and am hoping that through these channels I may generate sales or commissions from people that I don't know.

How has lockdown changed your creative process?

Lockdown has changed my perspective on everything. I have painted on and off for over 30 years and would fit art around my everyday life. However, since lockdown I have become a prolific artist and now everyday life has to fit around my art! Art now plays a much bigger and significant part in my life. When I am not doing my day job I spend hours/days up in my studio in the loft. Whereas before, I may have had one piece on the go which would have taken me weeks to complete, I now have a number of pieces on the go at anyone time and I discipline myself to complete the pieces in a much shorter time. Some may be completed in an hour or two as I love to evoke a sense of energy and vibrancy into my paintings and quite often you can overwork pieces and they can lose this sense of immediacy. I have definitely been more creative during lockdown and have experimented with new techniques and mediums which I previously may have avoided including working in pastels and more use of palette knives in my oil paintings. Perhaps the biggest gear change for me is that, previously, I have resisted doing art on a regular commercial scale and have only ever painted for myself or did the odd commission here and there. Now, however I am hoping to build up my business and portfolio of work and would like to work towards having a couple of small scale exhibitions in order to sell and show case my art.

Tell us about any future projects you have planned.

Currently I am working on a number of textural abstract and semi-abstract projects on large canvases in both oils and metallic acryllics. I am also planning to undertake a series of pieces in different mediums inspired by a recent holiday to the Scottish Highlands.

See more of Michelle’s work on her Worcestershire Artists page.

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