Michelle Schleider (b. 1974) was raised in Huntington, New York on Long Island. Drawing and painting have been in the forefront of her life since childhood. She received her BA in Painting with a minor in Art History at Providence College, spent a half a year in Florence, Italy studying the masters and has taken several workshops from living master artists to improve her skills.
Michelle specializes in oil painting and charcoal drawing. She draws from life experiences when composing a painting. Having lived in several cities such as Seoul, Florence, San Francisco, Tucson, Arizona, Providence, Rhode Island and Hoboken, New Jersey, she has a great appreciation for cultural diversity which shows up in her work.
Travel is a common theme in Michelle’s latest paintings. At a time when traveling is restricted more than ever because of the Covid 19 pandemic, there is nostalgia for places tourists have visited or wish to see for the first time.
Michelle’s newest series of luggage, handbags, and indigenous botanicals represent spectacular places across the globe and something most of us took for granted… the ability to pack a bag and go anywhere. Michelle resides and creates in Vestal, New York with her husband, two daughters, their bountiful garden and rose bushes. They often travel together (not during a pandemic) with some of the luggage that has made it into Michelle’s paintings.
What’s your preferred medium to paint? Have you tried different mediums before?
I’m in love with oil paints. I love their long history that reaches back centuries, the pigments they’re made of, and the variety of mediums that can be added to manipulate the final effect. In the past, I’ve worked with acrylic and watercolor, but oils are what I started with at 16 yrs old., so I’m most comfortable with them. When it comes to drawing, graphite and charcoal are staples for me. I’m interested in incorporating more drawing into my paintings, so the idea of using oil pastels with oil paint is something I’m curious about.
Favorite living artists?
A variety of painters...Carlos San Millán, Alyssa Monks, Jonas Wood, Olga Krimon, Zoey Frank, Tawny Chatmon, Felicia Forte, Guillermo Lorca García, and Vincent Desiderio to name a few.
I have two: The first is Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Who knows when we’ll be able to travel there again with so many travel restrictions and advisories in place, but anyone can take a virtual tour and see online exhibits through my favorite app, Google Arts and Culture.
The second is any botanical garden. I took up gardening as a hobby four years ago and haven’t looked back. There’s so much to learn and so much experimentation constantly happening. The experimentation reminds me a lot about oil painting, so much that I started adding plants as a new subject matter to my work.
What’s the meanest thing someone has said about your art? How did you respond?
I can think of a lot of little digs or insults that stung, but I can’t say there’s one that stands out so much that I let it sink in very far. When they come my way, I’ll consider them, and wonder if there’s anything I can take away from it that’s helpful or positive. If not, I “throw” the insult in the trash and move on. I’ve learned that it’s so important to realize that I’ll never please everyone. If I tried to, then my work would be bland and generic. I’ve found there are many more supportive people out there than there are critics. They’re the ones that deserve my attention and gratitude.
Who was you biggest supporter when you decided to pursue art as a career?
My husband. He encouraged me to travel to workshops taught by notable artists even with our two little kids at home. He also didn’t mind at all when I transformed our dining room into my studio.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to make art for a living?
Ask yourself what kind of time you’re willing to put into your art. Do you want to be a full-time artist or part-time with a second job or career to create a supplemental income? There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Remain focused on long and short term goals and learn from your failures by analyzing what didn’t work out and shifting your approach to try again. Form daily habits so you can incorporate both art making and marketing your work. Keep your community of artists close, whether they’re local or online. Consider starting or joining a mastermind group. You’ll motivate each other to keep moving forward.
Michelle's Favorite Trekell Products:
Several years ago I bought my first set of professional grade brushes and they were Trekell’s Hog Bristle brushes. I love the way they feel and how they hold the paint. Also, my daughters recently entered Trekell's annual pet portrait competition and we ordered some decorative panels. We were really impressed with the quality of the birch wood and the shape was just awesome!
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