Artist Interview: Michael Duane

Artist Interview: Michael Duane



"Storm On!"

This October, we're showcasing a selection of work by award-winning pastel artist Michael Duane. Michael has a series of weather-related works, and he's debuting his new works on black paper for this exhibit. We interviewed him this week and asked why he paints what he does and where he finds inspiration for his work.

Why do you do what you do?

Since I was a kid, I've always loved to draw and paint. Although painting weather scenes came to me later in life, I'm now painting what I've been fascinated with. I'm excited about what I create, and hope that the drama or serenity I've felt in my experiences comes across in my art. With Mother Nature, the experiences are never ending, and watching storms pass over the Kansas Flint Hills is an endless source of inspiration.

Why weather-related art?

I always tell people that I paint what I'm passionate about. I saw a tornado when I was seven years old and became fascinated with weather, to the point where my mother asked me to draw the experience. I still have the drawing I made, you can tell I've come a long ways. The excitement of this early experience never died, and when storms approached I would be outside to watch them. I always wanted to see and feel what was happening, the power of nature. I'm still fascinated by weather, and it's why I paint so many stormy skies.

What is integral to your work as an artist?

I think an artist should have an appreciation for the beauty around them, plus creativity, determination, persistence and an openness to pushing the envelope with their art.

Walk us through how you approach a painting.

Usually I get inspired by witnessing a weather event in person, then referencing the photos from the event to start a new painting. Using a pastel pencil, I'll start the initial drawing and make sure I have all the elements where I want them. Then I'll continue with the pastel pencils and block in areas while experimenting with the colors I'll be using. Finally, I'll be going over them with more color-intense soft pastels.

I try to create the ultimate contrast in my work.

–Artist Michael Duane

I try to create the ultimate contrast in my work. While I keep a basic idea in my head of how I want it turn out, I don't always know exactly what it will look like finished. I'm an intuitive artist who doesn't follow traditional rules. I keep designing as I work through a painting, which means I'll explore different options as I'm working, changing areas that don't work and finally bringing it all together in the end. I love the discovery process as I work through each painting.

How has your work changed over time?

I stay inspired by experimenting and pushing new ideas while still staying true to the vision and style I've created. I think I've come a long way from my earlier artwork, and I learn more about what I like to create with every painting.

What do people always ask you about your work?

I often get "What is pastel?" or "Why pastel?" and also every artist's least favorite question "How long did it take you to do this?"

.What is something you wish people would ask you about your work?

I wish people would ask me "Why do you do what you do?" I love to explain my fascination with the ever-changing Kansas weather and why I continue to paint these scenes.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you as an artist?

I've worked in other media before I switched to pastels, including watercolor, acrylic, pen and ink. I also love doing caricatures.

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