Michael MacTavish
Contemporary American Impressionist
 About the Work

I  love to paint outside. The changing weather and light encourage a spontaneous and fresh approach to the work. Observing nature directly builds a deep understanding of the visual world.

I also love to paint in the studio. Often I will develop a painting done outdoors into a larger work done in the studio. I’ll scan paintings or photographs into my computer, make adjustments and paint from the monitor. I can change the values and colors to be more like how I remember them, or how I wish them to be.

To begin a painting, I lay out a satisfying composition of interlocking shapes defining light and shade. From all that nature has to offer, I simplify to create unity and clarity. On these basic shapes I overlay enthusiastic applications of paint to record what I see and feel. In the Impressionist tradition, I apply brushstrokes to create a “visual vibration” which gives a sense of movement and light to the painting. Often the most difficult task for me is to recognize when the essence of a scene has been successfully captured, and to stop painting at that moment.

My paintings are all oil on panel or canvas. Each painting has been completed while the paint is still wet (alla prima). They have been executed according to age-old methods and should last for generations.


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