Meet The Maker : Michelle McIver

Meet The Maker : Michelle McIver

  
   
We are so excited to welcome our newest painter & printmaker Michelle McIver to The Poi Room this week. We decided we needed to find out a little more about Michelle and her practice as an artist. You can find her latest work on our online gallery and in our Newmarket & Ponsonby Galleries. 
 
What is your creative goal for 2020?
I believe all artists are constantly learning, practising and improving. 
My art practice is the same…I’m constantly exploring new ways to improve my technique, and portray what I want the viewer to see or feel. At no point can I imagine thinking that I have ‘arrived’ and no longer need to keep working at my craft.
 
So therefore, my creative goal for this year is to continue to develop my own personal painting practice, and further develop what I hope is a unique and signature painting style. Oh and hopefully expose myself to a wider audience!
 

What do you make/art practice?
These days I am a painter, usually choosing landscapes and waterscapes as my subject matter. In past years I have practised relief printmaking, and the printmaking ‘aesthetic’ can still be seen in my contemporary painting style. 
 
 
What does a normal day look like for you?
My normal day is pretty idyllic!  I live and work from home , which I share with my partner Simon,  our two teenage children, two cats and a German Spitz dog. After the usual routines of getting a family off and out the door, I then settle in to my day. My studio space has just recently been moved from a spacious but dark basement area downstairs to a beautifully light-filled room upstairs. It has floor to ceiling windows and looks out over our backyard and native forest which backs on to our property.  The view is lush and green and filled with birdlife. At least one of my cats usually parks up beside me on a chair, and my dog sits at my feet. 
 
While I’m not always the best at sticking to routines! My absolute perfect day is one where I have no admin and don’t have to leave the house (other than walking the dog!) On these days I can paint the day away. I love these days so much that sometimes I can’t sleep for excitement the night before! Other parts that make up the whole can include tripping around town for printing, framing, deliveries etc. 
By 6pm I’m looking forward to that wine when Simon comes back through the door. If there are deadlines to be met or a current painting is at a good stage that I want to continue, I can continue in my studio after dinner.
 
How did it all begin - where did this passion for painting/printmaking come from?
Initially, I grew up being ‘that kid who could draw’. As a natural progression I went on to begin studies in Fine Art after high school, but then things took a different turn and I travelled to Japan after doing an Bachelor of Arts degree. I lived in rural Japan for a number of years teaching, and began to be amazed at the art and craft scene there. I especially loved pottery and printmaking. Returning to NZ I completed a degree in Japanese language and began to teach Japanese in high schools here.  After being epi-central to the Christchurch earthquakes I think it gave me the shock I needed to realise that I needed to get back to my first passion of an art practice. I began to do linocut printmaking, inspired by the tradition of Japanese woodblock printing. I loved the Japanese pared-back aesthetic (how many times did I hear ‘simple is best’ in Japan!) yet with huge attention to detail.
 
After several years of printmaking I decided to paint. I preferred the more intense colour that I could gain from paint, and I was after the looser more expressive marks to be made from a brush. However, I think I still retain an element of printmaking in my painting - I paint in a similar manner to screen printing.
 
Where do you find inspiration as an artist?
To balance the indoor aspect of painting at my easel, it’s nice that my inspiration comes from outside in nature. There is absolutely no shortage of interesting geographical features around New Zealand…we are totally spoiled for choice. I love the drama of our landscape and coastlines. Our family owns a camper van, and we love the beach, so there’s never a shortage of places to visit and photograph. These photos then become my reference material.
  
 
What is the theme/inspiration/stories behind your pieces?
I like to explore the shape, colour and form of a piece. I try to deconstruct a scene into simple shapes and pare things back if I can. It’s a constant work in progress for me, as I constantly battle against overworking a painting. I like to place more rigid lines next to looser applications of paint, to retain some energy in a painting.
 
What do you love most about working and living in Aotearoa?
I have always craved travel and studying other cultures. This was one of the reasons for majoring in Anthropology when I was younger.  But the more I travelled the more I realised how much there was to love about New Zealand. Towards the end of my years living in Japan I began to feel homesick for New Zealand, and began tertiary papers  in Te Reo and the Treaty of Waitangi. I missed our more multi-cultural lifestyle, our open and straight-forward culture. I appreciate our humility and quiet confidence as a nation. I also often see an unguardedness about Kiwis, with a willingness from many to share expertise and knowledge with others, content to contribute without the need for reward. I hope we always retain our mostly kind attitudes towards others.
 
How has your artwork changed over time?
My artwork has changed hugely! As a printmaker my subject matter was sea shells, sea animals, foliage, flowers and birdlife. They were usually small in size, detailed and close up. It required some precision in both cutting the lino and registering the lino to paper. 
 
My switch to painting meant taking a ‘step back’, firstly in that I no longer had to hunch over a hard-to-carve piece of lino, and secondly in my choice of subject matter which was now a wider view of seascapes and landscapes. It felt much freer and less tight to me.
 
How has the digital space affected your artwork?
I love social media! Discovering Instagram in particular has been such a valuable tool for me. It has allowed me to make connections with so many people. Any down time I have is spent scouring for new artists who excite me. I have such an incredible collection of worldwide artists whom I follow…I check out artists on my phone from the minute that I wake up and then again before finally turning my light off at the end of the day!  Pinterest too can inspire and keep me awake at nights!
 
I also use various apps and filters to enhance my photos which I have taken as reference for future paintings, and play around with saturation and lighting etc to then base my paintings on. I also enjoy listening to podcasts from The Savvy Painter as I paint.
  
 
What is your studio/creative space like?
I love my space. As I said earlier, it’s located in my home, with large windows and plenty of light. Along with the usual paraphernalia of easel, paints, brushes, canvases and large work bench, it is also a place where I’m surrounded by my favourite things. My art books and bookshelves, a sofa with beautiful linen cushions featuring Katie Middleton graphics, and a large papasan chair - that usually has a cat on it! The room has become a bit of a magnet for not just me, but the animals, teenagers and Simon too! It’s a busy and often messy room (of course!) but it’s a great place to hang.
 
What drew you to working with The Poi Room?
The Poi Room beautifully curates some of New Zealand’s cleverest artisans, and then regularly promotes their work in concerted social media campaigns and via their website.  A professional-looking website with online shopping, and two great locations in Newmarket and Ponsonby, add to that appeal! The Poi Room team also showcase some of the best Kiwi qualities themselves - hard-working, inclusive, friendly and efficient! How good?!
 
Describe your relationship with The Poi Room and how our values fit with your business?
My relationship with The Poi Room is only just beginning, but I have felt thoroughly welcomed and supported. I look forward to being a part of their business.
 
 
 




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