- Posted Nov 29, 2012
Michelle Lohr | Painter
Artmuse welcomes artist Michelle Lohr. Originally from Israel and painting since the age of 3, Michelle is a now a full time artist living in Austin, Texas. She attended Haifa University majoring in painting, sculpture and drawing.
After years of not painting regularly, she recently taught herself art and slowly got back into it through painting every day. Although her art education was attained 23 years ago, her ability to get back in to her daily art practice confirms that art has always been an innate part of her life. Recently, Michelle has been painting a variety of subject matters from landscape, figurative and spiritual inspirations. Her use of color and her imagination allows her style to constantly evolve.
AM: What words best describe you?
ML: Outside-of-the-box-thinker, passionate, original, demanding, loves to learn and enjoys life and people.
AM: How do these descriptions relate to your art?
ML: The best way to describe it is that I try to be original in everything that I do, including my art. I never copy anyone’s idea. I am passionate about my art and I am demanding when I create it, always trying to come up with new ideas, meaning and spirituality.
AM: Where did you grow up? Tell us a bit about your background.
ML: I grew up in the Northern city of Haifa, Israel. I lived there until the age of 23. I attended Haifa University where I acquired my Bachelors in Fine Art. Israel’s landscape has always inspired me, especially now, when I live far away. It’s a romantic and beautiful country.
AM: Do the landscapes, experiences, and culture of Israel inspire your art now?
ML: Absolutely! I must admit that I would probably be painting more of Israel’s landscape if I were still living there. Israel’s sunlight has a unique color. I always noticed it. Many artists are drawn to paint in Israel, not only because of its historical beauty, but, because of the color of daylight. Yes, Israel’s landscape is very unique especially the older historical towns. It has inspired my paintings and I intend to create more art related to Israel in the future.
AM: What is it that drives you to create art?
ML: I was competing in art competitions in elementary school and winning gave me confidence to pursue it. Inspiration and imagination drive me to paint. Art is an inner urge within me that has to come out.
AM: What about your imagination inspires you?
ML: My imagination allows me to sometimes interpret the unknown to all of us. For instance…What happens after death? What does heaven or hell look like? Will I see my grandmother? Art touches a spiritual side of me as well. Sometimes questions about life will drive me to paint from imagination. My painting Gates to Heaven is one. I painted a gate and then created and abstract, vague portrayal of an unknown place. What makes this painting important to all religions is that it emphasizes our vulnerability as human beings.
Recalling this painting has unfolded a personal story of a woman who saw my Gates of Heaven. She later revealed to me that she had cancerous brain tumors. She told me that my Gates of Heaven had inspired her and that now she believed that she was going to that beautiful place in my painting. My art reassured her and my interpretation of heaven allowed me to connect with someone dying. I often wonder how many times she had thought my painting before she had died and I hope I put at her at ease somewhat.
AM: Who are a few of your favorite artists?
ML: Henry Matisse and Claude Monet. I have seen these artists work in-person many times. I love Henri Matisse because of his use of color and subject matter. I love his interior paintings, (Harmony in Red) those paintings have momentum and depth. I can look at them for hours. I also love his portraits, Woman with Hat, for instance. His paintings have a character about them that I just love.
Claude Monet’s landscapes are just amazing! I love the he uses colors and textures. His paintings are soft and subtle. I was at the MOMA in New York last year and I could not get over the special texture and view of his Water Lilies – amazing. His technique and use of the brush are very apparent from his paintings. The texture of the water lilies was very special. When you got close to the painting you could feel the water lily and when you stepped back it all fell into place. This was a unique experience for me.
AM: What is your current medium and what other mediums do you work in?
ML: I currently work in acrylics, looking forward to doing collage this coming year at AMOA.
AM: Do you have a process when you paint? Why are you interested in collage?
ML: Sometimes I may draw rough lines and have an idea in mind and then I create. But, most of the times I think I paint like people exercise. I start painting and when I get into it that’s when the process begins. I hardly sketch. I just let that special moment take place (mental orgasm) and take it from there. That’s the best way to describe it.
I love collage, the way it looks and the abstract element of it. There is something beautiful and very interesting about it. My instinct is that I would be successful at it, though, I’ve never studied it.
MICHELLE ON ART
AM: What makes a piece successful in your eyes?
ML: A combination of color and movement. It all depends what you are looking to create. Since art for me is an interpretation of what I see I never like to paint subjects that look exactly like reality. I like to give it my own interpretation.
AM: Tell us more about your interpretation process…
ML: Most of the time I don’t look at anything and paint from imagination. And, if I am looking at something, I will give it my own interpretation. If I am successful at the interpretation, then I have done what I was looking to do. It is proof that I am in the right direction. I think it’s too easy to paint things just the way they are. I see it as though I am required to and want to pursue my own interpretation to make it unique and my own.
AM: Has your art changed or been influenced over time?
ML: I think that now I am mature and more confident—this confidence allows me to paint and not be afraid of rejection. When one is young, one is seeking for security and a future. I did not have the confidence to be an artist at 22. I think I understand life better now. Being a mother (a very important role for me) has created the desire to share my art with my children and enhance their creativity in many ways.
Additionally, I have created a home building company with my husband allowing me to be creative and has brought me back to art—which is great for me. I think our passions never leave us, they are there always. But, when we allow them to become an inherent part of our lives is when our passions evolve.
AM: What is your process in creating a piece?
ML: Some pieces I create instantly, on the spur of the moment. I am extremely busy and I work with the time I have. When that creative urge occurs I take my colors , the canvas and start painting. I do think my art would be better if I sketched beforehand, but I don’t force myself to do anything.
AM: Why do you think art is important?
ML: Art is important because it is part of culture. It infuses us with feelings and reaction to something which allows us to realize what is really important in life.
AM: Favorite museum or gallery?
ML: I love MOMA in NYC and Musée d’Orsay in Paris. I visited the MOMA and the Jewish Museum recently in New York, and loved Matisse — such beautiful pieces of work. Monet’s texture of the Water Lilies captured my eyes in particular. I was a student in England studying law when I visited the Musée d’Orsay. Claude Monet was my favorite artist at the time because I liked the texture and colors of his paintings. At this point in my life I was farther away from art than ever, as I was pursuing a career in law, but, I was still very involved with art.
MICHELLE ON COLLECTING ART
AM: What advice do you have for someone just starting their art collection?
ML: For someone starting their own art collection, I would say learn as much as you can about the artist so you can understand the artist’s art. That’s when art has a major affect, learn their story and the inspiration behind the painting that you like.
AM: What are your thoughts on the accessibility and affordability of art via the Internet?
ML: The internet allows artists to be visible on a global basis and reach potential clients rather than staying localized. The Internet allows me to view other artists work, it allows artists to market their art. The Internet allows exposure and visibility.
AM: What is Living Artfully to you?
ML: Always keeping abreast of other people’s art, painting and being original.
AM: Do you have any shows or projects you are currently working on?
ML: I only show my art where I think it is best hung and plan to be in traditional art galleries.
AM: Are you looking to try new topics, sizes, mediums?
ML: I want to paint on larger canvasses, continue with using acrylics, and learn collage.
AM: Do you have any hobbies?
ML: Yes, I love to hike and bike. We hike as a family all over where it’s beautiful in Austin.
AM: What are you most proud of?
ML: I am proud of having reached the point where I feel I have done almost everything I have set out to do. I may have not been as successful at some of the things like I have wanted to, but, overall I am happy with what I have achieved.
AM: Do you have a top achievement you can share?
ML: Having achieved a sense that I’ve set out to discover and learn more about the world. I left my homeland all by myself, while friends were getting married and settling down. I’ve chosen a tougher road, which, in the long run, was meant for me and my aspirations. And, only now, I appreciate the result.
MICHELLE’S TOP FIVE
AM: Favorite food?
ML: Asian. I like to discover new restaurants and the main reason I like Asian food is that its challenging to cook at home.
AM: Favorite books/music?
ML: I like to read biographies of strong women living in the 19th century. I’ve read about Golda Meir, Big Alma Spreckel—who had a great influence on art. I am currently reading about Edith Gregor Halpert — a successful and influential gallerist in New York. And, I like classical music.
AM: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
ML: An architect. I do currently design with my home building business. Zaha Hadid is one of my favorite architects because her architecture is unexpected and outside of the box.
AM: If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
ML: The ability to travel to the past and spend time with important people who have shaped my personality.
AM: What is your personal credo or motto?
ML: My personal credo is that we ourselves are responsible for our personal fate. I strongly believe that if you really want something in life, provided you live in a free society, you have the ultimate power for your fate and destiny. That’s why I love living in the USA.
AM: Is your credo inspired by living outside of the USA in particular?
ML: I’m originally from a great country—Israel. Yes, my credo is inspired by living outside the U.S. in a country which has been struggling for its existence since I can remember. I don’t take anything for granted, however I was raised with everything especially great values and education. The material stuff was never important. I hope I can raise my kids with the same values. I miss Israel sometimes—I long for my family and friends. But, my world travels, education and experiences have changed who I am. I am probably more American now than ever. The United States is my home.
Written by Bonnie Glendinning
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