CHROMA ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: MICHELLE HOOGVELD

Michelle Hoogveld is a Calgary-based painter and muralist known for her vibrant use of colour, distinctive use of mixed media, and grand murals that explore human emotion and its relationship to our surroundings. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Design from Lynn University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education from the University of British Columbia. In honour of her mother, Michelle and her sisters created The Sky Painters Foundation, a project that supports the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. Besides creating, Michelle loves to travel, experiment in the kitchen, snowboard, hike, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, workout, spend time with friends and family, and support Calgary’s live music scene.

Photography by  Kelly Hofer

Photography by Kelly Hofer

For Chroma, Michelle created Kaleidoscope Of Dreams — a mural that entirely immerses viewers into a kaleidoscope of pink skies and turquoise waters.

We wanted to learn more about Michelle’s installations, so we sat down to talk about the inspiration behind the piece and the process of it all coming together!

Photography by  Kelly Hofer

Photography by Kelly Hofer

Tell us about the process of making this piece?

For me, I was instantly excited to be part of an installation like CHROMA because it is something that Calgary has never seen before. From the beginning, the PARK and Southcentre teams created space for each of the artists to incorporate their own artistic style into the project. This allowed for the design process to really flow, and it was inspiring to see how each of our concepts came together as a whole. Thinking about the entire experience, I cannot help but smile. From painting with a colour palette that looks like it came from the candy store to working alongside such a talented group of individuals, this was a dream collaboration to be a part of. Now for the fun part…seeing everyone interact with the walls! I also wrote a little poem about my piece:

"Come wander through the land of pink palms and sand,

Fuchsia, flamingos, bubblegum and,

A tropical wave pulses through your heart,

A sunrise, a sunset, a rainbow, it’s art,

Diamonds and sparkles, a kaleidoscope of dreams,

Waves and splashes, a smile that beams, 

Gaze up at the stars, what do they mean,

It's magic, a journey, through all that is seen.   

What environments have the most impact on how you get inspired to create your pieces?

I absolutely love to travel and explore new cultures! I find that these experiences spark crazy amounts of inspiration that would not be found other than from the unknown. The ocean is another huge source of inspiration for me. When I spend time by the water with the sand at my feet, I feel like my mind wanders into a space where ideas never end. Perhaps it’s the peaceful sounds or rhythm of the waves but it definitely does something to my creative soul. 

What is your daily routine when you are working on an art piece?

As someone who is quite spontaneous and free spirited, I find that adding a little structure really helps me to bring my creative process to life. I feel my best when I start my day with positive affirmations, meditation and a workout. From there, I’ll head into my studio (most likely) wearing my grandmas’s old wolf sweatshirt, holding a hot cup of tea in hand and listening to music or a motivational podcast. Similar to life, I approach my artwork through a process of planned compositions with room for intuitive play and unstructured experimentation. This keeps things fun and leaves room for me to continually push myself as an artist. Whether it’s on a canvas or a wall, once I have my main idea sketched out I then decide how much or how little I should stay within the lines — usually it’s a bit of both. The paint zone is the real deal, so I prefer to paint for long hours and work on multiple pieces at a time. If I need a break, my go to recharge regime is either a matcha latte with almond milk, a walk in nature or a quick power nap. Once I’m creating, I rely heavily on intuition especially when choosing colours!

Photography by  Kelly Hofer

Photography by Kelly Hofer

How has your work evolved over the years?

When I first began painting, I would do my best to create portraits that were as realistic as possible. From there I began experimenting with landscapes and eventually went full tilt into abstracts. It seems like everything has come full circle. I find myself drawn to the interplay between abstracted shapes, bold colours, and realistic images of people, animals and elements from nature.  Within my work are prominent themes of connection and love that emphasize the relationships we form with others, the environment, and the space to express our innermost thoughts and emotions. Although I began on paper and canvas, I now call myself a painter and muralist as I tend to go back and forth from the studio to walls. Currently, I’m working on an ongoing series titled #saidthepeople. Featuring bold lips and colourful portraits, these paintings visually communicate the powerful nature of one’s voice and how we each have the ability to give and receive so much love through the simple act of sharing with another. Tied to this series, I’m also working on paintings of geometric patterns that form into shapes of a hearts. I’m excited to see how my artwork will continue evolve. The best part is that I don’t fully know! This evolution reminds me of my favourite quote by Jim Jarmusch titled “Originality” — it’s a long one but I highly recommend you give it a read.

What do you want to create that you haven’t yet?

I would love to create a massive immersive space similar to Salvation Mountain in California. I’m also working on an idea that (crossing my fingers) when it happens you’ll definitely know about it!  For now I’m keeping it hush hush. 

Who are your favourite artists?

Frank Stella, Andrew Salgado, Van Gogh, Joseph Lee, Tristan Eaton, Hueman, Lina Tesch, Callen Schaub, Bratsa Bonifacho, Eduardo Kobra, Shepard Fairey…I feel like this list could get long!

Where else can we find your work in Calgary?

You can find #BeCubed located at Luke’s Drugmart in Bridgeland, The Corridor of Connection in East Village along the 4th Street SE Underpass, Cococo Chocolatiers on 17th Ave and 8th Street, and also at Montgomery Community Centre and Highland Park Community Centre.

Photography by  Kelly Hofer

Photography by Kelly Hofer

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