Artist Profile: Amanda Michele - Brooklyn
Hi Amanda! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an artist and all around creative living in Brooklyn with my partner Matt and rescue-pup Molly Moopy. You can usually find me painting abstract watercolor works on paper and surfing Zillow for fixer-upper homes that I will never actually buy.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I’ve always been creative. I remember talking my way out of nap time in preschool so I could illustrate the stories I forced my teachers to write for me. Throughout primary and secondary school, I was always talking 1 or 2 art classes but for some silly reason, I never saw art making as a way to make a living. So when I went to college I decided to be “practical” and study Biology.
At the end of my second semester, my botany professor assigned us a project to showcase what we learned during her class. It could be about any topic we covered, the only catch was it couldn’t be a paper or presentation. I created a painting of plant cells in the various stages of mitosis and my professor BOUGHT it from me. That was the first time I really thought, hey maybe this could be something.
By the next semester, I was an art major and I’ve never stopped thinking that this could be something.
What compels you to create your artwork?
I’m fascinated by the balance of chaos and order. I remember seeing it under the microscope in my bio classes but also in our daily experiences and the emotions tied to those experiences. I love to let myself and my materials run wild before coming in at the end and tying it all together with some very intricate detail work. The process is a meditation on time and no matter what I always just keep coming back to structure and flow.
In addition to creating your own abstract paintings, you're also an Art Director at a communications agency. What does your work look like there?
I’m so lucky that I get to be creative all-day everyday. I love what Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it the more you have” My day job has me focusing on graphic design and visual identity for some big fancy brands. Because good design is about problem-solving, it has me thinking very critically and analytically about the visuals I create, which sort of frees me up to create my abstract art the way I want. It’s a great symbiotic relationship at this point in my creative development.
What does your creative process look like?
My process involves a lot of patience and acceptance. Watercolor as a medium looks the most beautiful when it’s allowed to flow freely, pool where it wants and drip if it feels like it. Allowing space for happenstance is a meditation in chaos and control. Layer after layer, I create my painting, and then it’s time for the detail work. This is where I take the randomness of the watercolor and bring in structure with intricate line work that also requires a ton of patience. All and all it’s a long process but one that mirrors everyday life if you really think about it.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
So many things keep me passionate about making art (and sometimes it can change based on my season of life) but right now what keeps me going with it is that I love myself. Creating art has always been a core part of who I am, allowing myself to create and encouraging it is an act of self-love in a world that frequently shames you for loving yourself as you are. I often feel like that love and the joy that goes into making gets transferred over to the new owner when I sell an artwork. Spreading that around the world, one painting at a time, is my mission.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face?
Time and energy are my biggest struggle. Working full-time, running my own business, making art, spending time with my husband, taking care of my dog, hanging out with friends and visiting family (plus who knows what else I’m forgetting) is a lot sometimes. I have to step back occasionally and realize I’m not meant to do it all. It also helps that the people in my life are so understanding and supportive of my dreams that they are cool with it when I bail on brunch… again.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is
important for women to support each other? How have women supported you?
Women supporting women is such a magical thing. It’s survival honestly. I have been so lucky to have had the support of my mom who would never let me give up or talk down to myself, my best friend since middle school who I know would be there for me at the drop of a hat if I needed her and the group of creative lady friends I’ve met since moving to NYC. They are the foundation on which I’ve built myself and I couldn’t have asked for a better hype crew in my life. Also, my dog’s female and she’s basically my ride or die so I’m all about that female energy.
What women bring you inspiration?
I have so many women to draw on for inspiration so I’ll try to pick just two. I recently went to the Guggenheim for this amazing show of a little known woman artist, Hilma af Klint. She was years ahead of the men who’ve historically been credited with founding the abstract movement. You should give her a google. You will not be disappointed.
Last year, I was so privileged to witness my friend Natalie up and quit her job to start an interior paint company called Backdrop. After finding it such a pain to pick a white paint out of billions to paint the nursery of their daughter, she and her husband decided to completely reinvent the home painting process. The courage and drive it took to take such a risk with a toddler at home and then to totally be AMAZING at it is the vibe I want for 2019.
Do you have any resources that have been helpful to you that we should know of?
Shanna Skidmore - Anything this woman puts out is gold. Her Blueprint Model course changed my art business and helped me double my sales within a year. Plus she’s super sweet IRL.
The War of Art by David Pressfield - The title of this book is not merely just a clever turn of phrase; it’s literal. There is a battle raging. One side is your creative dreams and every piece of art you are meant to bring into this world. The other is the Resistance, the internal roadblocks that keep you from making your work. Naming this force that keeps you from your creative calling and understanding it, has helped me to push it aside when it rears its ugly head.
The Best Self Journal - Having a full-time job and “side hustle” that you’re super passionate about is hard. There's a lot of to-do’s floating around your head and it doesn’t help if you’re wasting time deciding what you need to work on next to get to your (many) goals. That’s why I love this journal because with a little prep ahead of time, it takes the guesswork of my days and helps me stay on track. I know there are tons of other planners out there and they are probably great too but this is the one that worked the best for me because it's laid out very thoughtfully.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
I would die to paint a mural on the Bowery Wall in New York City. I’ve only painted a handful of murals in my life and none nearly as big as this one in Soho but I get giddy just thinking about the possibility of it. Maybe I should get a few other murals under my belt first but I’ll get there someday...
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
Right now I’m trying to learn how to journal consistently. I have a visual journal with my sketchbooks and it’s amazing to look through them and see how I’ve grown and progressed as an artist. I would love to get better at writing out my feelings, thoughts, and experiences so I could be able to track that same growth for myself as a person.
What are some of your favorite places in Brooklyn?
Prospect Park - The best park in the 5 boroughs. Fight me! Even Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park, considered it his masterpiece. Before 9 am it’s off-leash dog time and I’m pretty sure that's what heaven looks like.
Brooklyn Craft Company - A hot pink gem in Greenpoint, I teach watercolor classes here about once-a-month. Its an amazing woman-owned business and perfect if you want to try some new DIY projects or learn a new craft.
Dunwell Donuts - Matt and I have tried a lot of donuts places all around the city, near and far, and this joint in East Williamsburg is my favorite. I almost hesitate to mention that they’re all vegan donuts because when you taste them, it doesn’t even matter. Just all deliciousness.