Painting Statement

 My work has been called photorealistic, super-photorealistic or hyper-photorealistic. I suppose it’s a matter of semantics based on the scale of the work.

Observing the world around me, I select everyday objects to provide me with a powerful image. Using photographs and “Photoshop”, I refine the image, and then I draw the image on canvas using a projector. This gives me the opportunity to adjust the scale of the image.

 My artwork is a reflection of the world as I see it and I want the viewer to see that also. I see sensuousness and beauty in everyday objects and I want to immediately catch the attention of the viewer so that they can see that too. All objects and images have beauty, value and impact..

The following people have been an influence on my work: Jerry Rudquist, Josef Albers, Georgia O’Keefe, Chuck Close, Ralph Goings, Jerry used the color theories of Josef Albers in teaching painting, design and printmaking.

Using these influences, I work on my paintings in a fairly traditional manner. Blending oils like watercolor, overpainting, layering, and using glazes to create the image I want. I seldom use a palette knife on the canvas; but prefer round, flat and fan brushes. I focus on the interaction of color to develop the image. I want the viewer to enjoy the sensual nature of color as seen in an everyday object.

With each painting I complete, I continue to explore line, mass volume, shape, and composition while using color and color theories. These theories and techniques enable me to push the viewer to scrutinize the world in which he lives. Hopefully, the viewer will return home after seeing one of my paintings with a desire to examine and look more closely at the world around him.

As to the place in the development of my artwork, I cannot comment. I have found that over the forty years of making works of art, each piece is a step. Sometimes a step forward, sometimes a step sideways, and sometimes a step backwards, in my development as an artist. Being an artist is a journey. Each work is part of the progression of what I learn along the way. The world opens and closes doors; each event brings challenges and rewards.

Sculpture Statement

 My sculptural work reflects my exploration of the sensual three dimensional worlds. My images are the mental exercise of the sense of touch and feeling. I want the viewer to touch my work and use the sense of touch to experience the work. I like to use organic, flowing, organic, sensual shapes to engage the viewer. Perhaps closing their eyes would help in this experience. I have chosen bronze to help heighten this tactile experience.

Influences on my work are; Henry Moore, Ernst Barlach, Barbara Hepworth, and Louise Bourgeois. I have used elements of each of these artists to incorporating these in the process of developing each sculpture. Sensuality is definitely the strongest element.

I work directly in wax rather than in clay or plasticine. Sometimes, I build the sculpture using sheets of wax and sometimes, I build an armature. I shape and smooth the wax using a torch. Then, work the wax with a printmakers burnishing tool. This enables me to get a hard packed glass like surface. The rest is the very traditional lost-wax process: mold, burn-out, cast, clean up, polish and patina.

Working with the elements of shape, mass, volume, I explore the interaction of each part for the final form. I want to engage the viewer in the primal, sensual, organic form which they can feel and touch. I hope in the future to be able to increase the scale of my work. This would have the viewer experience my work with their entire body. Using this larger scale, viewers would be reaching over, around, climbing though these organic shapes to gain a total body tactile experience.

Unlike my painting, my sculpture is in more of an early stage.
I am becoming more comfortable with the mental image of organic shapes and forms that I want my viewers to experience. My sculptural work is beginning to bloom. I find that there are two parts of my artist’s view of the world in which I live. I am engaged by both the need to explore the representational in my paintings and the purely organic imagination of my sculptures.

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and spent my high school years in Downers Grove IL. . I received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Macalester College in St. Paul MN with majors in Art and Physical Education. My college art professors were Anthony Caponi, Don Celender and Jerry Rudquist who was also my advisor. My first teaching job was in Carmichael, California where Ralph Goings was the department chairman. Through Ralph I also met Mel Ramos. I have taken graduate level courses at the University of California at Sacramento and the University of Minnesota. 

After teaching Art in California and Minnesota I opened a custom jewelry shop where I turned client’s ideas and designs into reality using whatever process was appropriate, whether that be lost wax, fabrication, hand-wrought or other.

I now devote all my time to my artwork.

 From the beginning, my art instructors, teachers, and professors have told me that my work reminded them of Georgia O’Keefe. I have struggled with this concept for many years. I saw my work as being more like that of the photorealists. I have spent many hours thinking about my work. How could I explain the relationship and differences between my paintings and my sculptures? After much thought I feel that I have found the key to all of these elements.

Today, my work is an exploration of what I call the “Sensual Feminine”. The world around me is full of these powerful sensual images. I am trying to make the viewer sense these rich, full sensual images in my paintings and sculptures. The images are more than the realistic portrayals of a flower or figure

Michael McChesney

About the ARTIST