Interview with our March Spotlight Artist, Michael Gillespie:
1) When and how did you first become seriously interested in Art? I used to draw a lot when I was in grade school, but I became interested in music in high school, and studied music in college and graduate school. I was in church music for nine years before I decided to study art and become an artist.
2) What is your training, and what medium(s) / subject matter do you work in? I earned a Bachelor of Fine Art degree at UT-Austin, and have taken workshops with Daniel Greene, Paul Leveille, Ramon Kelly, and others. I have made four trips to Europe and spent time in the great art museums there. I started out doing illustrations and portraits in pastel, and gradually started doing portraits and landscapes in oil.
"Dr. Newbury," by Michael Gillespie
3) What do you try to express in your work? With portraits, I try to show the person at their best. This involves, pose (hopefully characteristic of the individual), facial expression, color, lighting, blending, edges, everything that makes a good realist painting, with the emphasis on the face. In figure painting, I want to emphasize an idea visually, whether the idea is a pretext, an emotion, or just the beauty of the subject and the way it is painted. In landscapes and cityscapes, I want the viewer to feel what I felt when I first saw the scene and decided to paint it.
4) What artists/professionals have been your biggest influences? I was influenced for many years by Ray Kinstler’s portrait style, but lately have realized my oil portraits are more like the classical realists. I have recently studied in that tradition with Steve Armes and Ron Cheek.
5) What do you do to gain new inspiration for your work? I mainly look at good artwork whenever I can, but I also take note of what inspires other artists: literature, poetry, music, and so I have been looking to the other arts for inspiration and ideas.
6) What would you like to be doing with your art ten years from now?
Using the things mentioned above to inspire and create beautiful and compelling paintings.
"Delane," by Michael Gillespie
7) Do you set goals for yourself concerning the making of your art? Not exactly goals, but I usually have in mind the next painting and how it will be my best.
8) Are you happy with your job choice as an artist? Do you have any regrets in this career choice or things you would have done differently? I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. But on the other hand, I would advise any young person to have a back-up plan, to learn some practical skills, or plan to teach, especially if you have a family who depends on your income. And besides, it’s good to be more well-rounded.
9) Any fun or interesting facts about yourself that you'd like to share? I teach a class at Dallas Baptist University called “Introduction to Fine Arts”, a survey of all the fine arts except literature. There I really get to use my background in music and visual art.
10) Best piece of advice for other artists? Never stop studying and learning.