Born in 1952, Michael MacTavish spent his first ten years in the small Midwestern town of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he developed a strong affinity for rural landscape. This early period has influenced MacTavish’s painting throughout his career.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a Batchelor of Fine Arts degree in painting,
MacTavish successfully pursued a number of grants, allowing him to produce significant public art, including a solo exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He then received a Teaching Assistantship and entered the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Michael continued his study in mentored workshops through the Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona, focusing on painting directly from nature.
Studying early twentieth century California Impressionist painters such as Edgar Payne, Guy Rose and William Wendt further solidified “Plein Air” painting as an integral part of MacTavish’s painting methodology. “When painting outdoors, I try to connect with a place, be in the moment and reach a creative state. I attempt to portray a unique point of view filtered by my emotional response to the immediate surroundings.” Outdoor studies often lead to a larger painting back in the studio. Relying on the Plein Air study, memory and imagination, he paints a deeply personal interpretation of the natural landscape.
Between 2002 and 2008 MacTavish painted extensively in the Southwest and New England, maintaining studios in both locations. The past three years have been focused more on painting landscapes in and around Easthampton, Massachusetts. “Having lived here for the past 32 years, the familiarity with this area; the land, quality of light, changing seasons, vegetation and older mountains, deeply nourishes my work now.”
Producing work with a broad appeal, MacTavish has private collectors throughout the country, including Vermont, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Minnesota and Arizona., and has sold over three hundred paintings in the past ten years.