Chad Michael is an emerging metroplex artist whose painting Release the Balloons! III will be included in the 2013 juried New Texas Talent exhibition at Craighead Green Gallery. This is the twentieth year for New Texas Talent, drug designed to introduce and promote emerging visual artists in the commercial market. Each year hundreds of images are submitted for review by the jurors, who must select a fraction of the submissions for the exhibition. Through their participation in the show, some artists have been offered representation by galleries or have been extended invitations for inclusion in future exhibitions. The exhibition and its participants also receive wide media exposure throughout the state.
Chad grew up in Rockwall and graduated from Brookhaven College on his way to a B.S. degree from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. He’s currently finishing a graphic design degree at Wade College. His painting for the exhibition is a dream-like night sky populated with large white spheres cracking open to release colorful hot air balloons. I asked him about the iconography.
A+C: What artist or period has inspired you to do surreal work?
MICHAEL: I have always been fascinated by the work of Salvador Dali. He had a huge imagination and I relate to that. My brain is constantly turning and popping out images and ideas. It never stops. Pollock, Picasso, and da Vinci are other artists who have influenced me.
A+C: Hot air balloons appear in lots of your work – what about them interests you?
I have a fascination with shapes, lines, and shading of imagery. I once noticed that hot air balloons had all of those characteristics and began using them in my drawings and paintings. Later I started using them to represent gender based on the color of the balloon. In my work, reds, pinks, and oranges represent female, and blues, greens, and yellows are male.
A+C: Do you work exclusively in acrylics, or have you experimented with other media?
I enjoy working in many mediums: pastels, oils, acrylics, watercolor, graphite, charcoal, and ink. I really haven’t ventured too far from painting or forms of drawing, but I think that sculpting would be interesting – it seems many artists have dabbled in sculpting at some point in their careers.
A+C: What is your approach to your art?
I find painting comforting – working on art alone allows me to focus. I like to listen to music that suits my mood at the time and I’m in my element. I don’t work every day. I have to be in the right mood or I feel as though I’m just throwing paint on the canvas without direction or focus. However, once I get a concept that will not leave my head, I get so focused I can work for long periods of time. When I get a block, I try solving it by turning on music or watching a movie that deals with some form of art. The movie Pollock with Ed Harris really gets me back to thinking of ideas for work. I also have crazy, vivid dreams that I write or quick-sketch in a journal when I wake up.
A+C: Do you have a process that you use as you start a new project?
I’ve found out that starting from a sketch onto the canvas works best for me. Sometimes paper reveals images in it through the shading – put a white sheet of paper on a dark table and you will see shaded forms and not just straight white paper. I use the sketches to visualize what I’m about to paint. Then the painting evolves depending on what the canvas “says” to me. I find that I like the balance of curved shapes and straight lines. I think it makes the picture flow more harmoniously. I typically don’t have an idea in mind when I start to work – I just start with a geometric shape, random curve, or lines and go with it.
A+C: What’s a favorite piece of work?
I once did a painting with sailboats on a lake and fireworks in the sky that I am very attached to. I’ve had offers, but I can’t get myself to sell it.
A+C: Have you had mentors who have encouraged your work?
I have. I’ve had two teachers who encouraged me along the way. Recently, Dallas artist Jackson Hammack has supported my work and pushed me to get my art out there. He’s been great at helping guide me and being there for me.
A+C: Finally, tell me an interesting or unusual fact about yourself.
I played college basketball and when I left Cameron University with a degree in marketing, I was the all-time 3-point percentage leader with 44% shooting.