In studio with Michael E. Bartlett – Sonoma Sun


Posted on July 11, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

By Jackie Lee | Sonoma Valley Sun

Michael Bartlett’s paintings are easily identified by their lush colors and luminosity. He has a unique method of applying colors in many glazes to achieve this effect, a long but rewarding technique that can only be possible by working colors over other colors.

“Jewel Gulch” (above) is a 9 “by 15” oil on canvas. “It was a spectacularly bright day at Timber Cove looking south, and the colors were off the charts,” said Michael. “I love painting along the coast because the colors are so rich even in the middle of the day when the weather is normally flat.

“I am very passionate about color,” he continued. “It refers to all the different aspects of how it relates to our experience and how we use pigments and theories. When painters are right, there is something that really speaks in a way that has no words. This is luminescence. The first time I saw a van Gogh painting I walked into the Chicago Art Institute and here is this tall wall and a painting of wheat fields that emitted so much light that all the other paintings in the room looked dull. It was the way van Gogh painted. It vibrates.

Another of Michael’s paintings, “Crossroads of the West”, depicts an oil tanker crossing under the Golden Gate Bridge where thousands of cars repeatedly travel. “I am deeply involved in sustainable energy,” added Michael. “We need to get rid of fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, and Governor Newsom has announced that California will no longer sell gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035.”

Asked about his attraction to art as a child, Michael said, “I have painted my entire life, since my first animal paintings when I was eight years old. I copied pictures from books and was fascinated by magazines like National Geographic. I chose landscapes as the subject of my Master of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute. It was around this time that I really saw myself as an artist.

“The sizes of my paintings today are small to medium, although when I had a larger studio in the past, I would go up to five or six feet. The luminosity comes from an underlying opaque coat of paint and a clear pigment overlay, continuing until I feel there is balance and harmony and some kind of emotional contact.

A work entitled “Carrefour de l’Ouest”

Does his pictorial practice suffer from daily tragedies?

“Yes, I’m affected by today’s news, but probably no more than anyone. Everything you absorb is part of you and is expressed in the paintings. There is a term of “ontological signifiers” – the logic of being. My art is reflected in a deeper place where I seek peace, a quiet place that is beyond what I do. I am fascinated by nature, and I think there is a song in color, music that we feel when we look at nature without the interference of humanity.

“Painting something is like a message in a bottle thrown into the ocean with the idea that it will eventually connect, and when it does connect, that energy wants to come back to where it started, it It is therefore a matter of having this union with the people. It’s the richest part of painting for me. He acts as an intermediary to connect with the experiences of others. Someone contacted me from my website to say, “I have had a painting of yours for all these years and I want to reconnect with you. This is what I love, that others can come into contact with something that I have also experienced.

Although painting is a daily occupation for Michael, he is also working on a course and manual called “Modern Color Theory, the New Primaries and a Practical Mixing Guide for Painters” to share his love of painting and inspire a new generation of painters. artists in their own experiments with color. It will post updates on its website, Michaelebartlett.com. His paintings are regularly exhibited at the Arts Guild of Sonoma.

Jackie Lee is an artist and writer focusing on individual artists as well as those represented by galleries. She can be contacted at: [email protected].



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