Welcome to my Sunday Guest Artist Blog Spot. This is the first for 2016!! Where has the first two months of this year gone?
This week I would like to introduce you to a wonderful friend, Michele Karlsson who describes herself as being: an artist, bike and all around lazy person. She neglected to add that she also loves coffee and the odd glass of wine or two. A lady after my own heart and one day we shall share a glass or two in an Italian cafe and just chat about anything and everything all day!
Hi! My name is Michele Karlsson. I met Su through an online art project and we discovered that we enjoyed a lot of the same things, like cycling, art and wine. (Not necessarily in that order.) I was going to try and be all artsy fartsy here, but Su assures me that you want to hear more. So I’ll try.
The short story of me and my art. And life in general.
I grew up in a house filled with music. My father is a musician and I guess we grew up knowing that life without music would be rather boring along with being incredibly quiet. I started taking piano lessons when I was five which was enhanced by flute lessons starting at age 11. Yes, I still play today, but not with the passion or proficiency I did when I was young.
While my siblings have taken music as their main muse, as I grew older I found more interest in the visual arts.
In my teens, along with music, I discovered sewing. (my secret pleasure is going into a fabric store just to look around and coming out hours later feeling drunk from the colors and patterns and textures. And not regretting it one little bit.) I sewed for myself and also for others. I still miss my sewing machine and someday I’ll replace it. I have so many ideas for things I want to make. And no, I’m not intimidated by the fact that I live in the land of fashion!
In my twenties I apprenticed with a stained glass artist for awhile. Again, absolutely loved taking that raw material, this time glass, and making something completely unique and compelling with it. Unfortunately I moved out of the area and couldn’t afford my own studio so that practice fell by the wayside. I still wasn’t confident enough in my own craft to just do it on my own.
In my thirties I spent every moment when I wasn’t at work keeping my hands busy. Cross-stitch, quilting, embroidery….any hand craft I could imagine to remind myself that life wasn’t just about earning money working for someone else but about beauty. This was a particularly difficult time for me. My kids were tweens and teenagers. My (then) husband had a short fuse and a bleak view of the future. My work was only work. So making beautiful things reminded me that life wasn’t always difficult. Wasn’t always a life and death struggle.
In my forties I decided to go back to college and chose the most absurd major possible: studio art. I spent nearly every weekend and many weeknights for seven years while working overtime at a job to finish college with a degree that absolutely no one hires for. On the other hand, I would have gladly spent the rest of my life there in college making and learning art. But of course, that’s not the way things work. Eventually you have to move on and do your own thing.
Which brings us to now, my glorious fifties, where I’m finding my courage to use my creative skills to live. I moved from small town Minnesota in the United States to Florence Italy. I’m surrounded by history and art in a way not possible in our very young United States. Inspiration is everywhere. It can be a little daunting at times. Most of the time I’m finding things I love and want to incorporate into my own work….a curve, a color, a face, a texture. The thing is, I know that even if I weren’t here in the heart of the Renaissance I’d still be inspired because my eyes have gotten used to seeking out beauty. And creative people flock to this city so I’m surrounded by people who want to get out of their studios and create together. Some people go to a bar and watch a football game; we go to a bar and draw. Exchange ideas and sources and opportunities.
I started riding bicycle with my husband the Cyclist three years ago. I love it, and split my time between the bike and the studio. I ride 3-5 days a week, 40-90 kilometers each ride. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. And on those rides I see, hear and smell things that eventually find their way into my art, and make every day a joy to experience.
I have no idea what place my art will take me next. I entered my very first juried show a couple of months ago and was so surprised to not only have something chosen to exhibit, but to have that piece awarded Best In Show. Okay, surprised is probably too mild a word to put to my emotions. Maybe stunned, thrilled, and ecstatic might be better words. And encouraged. Maybe more than anything else, being recognized for my creativity encourages me to keep doing more, to try new things and to put myself and my work out there for others to engage with.
Thank you for listening to my story. If you have questions or want to know more you won’t find me in all the usual places. I have no website, no art blog, no etsy shop, no face book page. But you can always contact Su, and she will forward them to me. Along with that creative quirk, I have a dislike for technology that is only surpassed by technology’s dislike for me.