Michele Green

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Plein air painter Michele Green's studio is the wide-open marshes of Somerset County, Maryland. Her daily year-round almost-all-weather discipline requires not only physical strength but tough tenacity.

Michele says that she has always been an artist, it is just who she is. She sold her first painting at the age of fourteen. Her formal training was at the School of Visual Arts in New York but considers art a lifelong learning process. When Michele and I talked about this, it was a beautiful fall day on a marsh near Rumly Maryland where the crickets were serenading us as we talked.

It takes practice, practice, practice. She says it took a long time to reach a certain maturity and now she no longer throws her paintings in the bushes on her way home. Thinking she wanted to one thing led her to something else. She is a firm believer in just going with what is happening.

Painting outdoors can have many challenges particularly for an oil painter like Michele. She spends her days hiking in the marshes with her dogs. She travels light carrying supplies in a small floating sled usually used by hunters. Plein air painting became Michele's passion when she was a young mother.

Michele says that she likes to call it "plain air" painting because she is not "too fancy". As a single Mom she began painting anywhere that she could take her son. There are many distractions that make it hard to focus: bugs, wind, and even the wider view of the landscape. Sometimes the environment controls her. "Sometimes it wins." A storm can come up or one of her dogs might scare a skunk making it necessary to "get out of there fast".

Michele describes her work as a mix between impressionism and abstraction. Her creative process is a reflection of both her emotions and her training. She likes to work on one painting at a time and finds that oils work best.

She says it is a completely cathartic experience for her, but that because of her training she does think strategically about form and color. Without those fundamentals she says "you can't build a house without a proper foundation." In the end it is "all about the light."

The marshes are her main focus these days. She scouts locations first. Then she says you really only have about a two hour window to capture a scene before the light has changed too much. She tries to arrive an hour earlier than the ideal light to get the form of things in an under painting so she can concentrate on the way the light is affecting the colors. She does use composition to lead the viewer's eyes around the painting. Sometimes she makes corrections back at home, though she does not actually have a studio.

Michele loves the colors of the Delmarva landscape and except for when the weather is really wet, cold, or windy she can work out doors for most of the year. Michele has many talents. She plays the banjo an is an accomplished blue grass musician. And she recently wrote a humorous mystery novel set in the marsh country she loves so much.