Jacque Michelle’s paintings reverberate with layers of bright hues and strong textures. She prefers contemporary colors and creates bold shapes with loose brushstrokes. The results are more expressive than realistic. “I’m an interpreter, not a renderer,” says the former owner of the Jacque Michelle boutique in Boulder. “I started with watercolors because I loved their fluidity and awesome surprises, but found the necessity of ‘saving the white space’ to be limiting.” Hence, she moved on to acrylics and has never looked back.
H+G: Please describe your artistic style and medium.
Jacque: My medium is acrylic paint because of its versatility. I can paint it thin like watercolor, add mediums to enhance its texture, drying time and appearance, or simply use it luscious, straight out of the tube. I like to alternate brush and palette strokes, and acrylics allow for a boldness that suits my first-time-seeing-the-beauty vibe. As a painting teacher, I find acrylic is a great solution—for all the reasons I listed—for any level of painter.
H+G: What is your favorite thing about creating art?
Jacque: Wow! Big question. Trying to capture the poetry of light is my favorite part. The beauty of the planet is profoundly inspiring, and painting is an immediate expression of seeing that. Painting is meditative—the attitude of showing up, not being attached to the outcome and trusting in the process. It’s never about ‘talent,’ but your own will to answer the call and start to practice your own art. Creating to please myself, and sharing the journey with students and peers, are the two sides to my satisfying art practice.
H+G: What is your greatest challenge about creating art?
Jacque: Every painting I start begins with a sense of gladness, possibility and positivity. Going for it with wild colorist abandon, because that is the joy of it! But alas, your first marks might be your first mistakes. So, accepting the possible slough ahead till my vision matches my work is the hardest part for me. For a painter, sometimes the ugly middle makes you want to toss your start, but returning to your original idea lights the fire of perseverance. To overcome is part of the artistic drive, and the lesson is to accept and be humble of your apprenticeship.
H+G: What inspires you?
Jacque: Living in Boulder is an endless inspiration. When I was 10, my family road-tripped from Pennsylvania through the Utah desert and the Rockies. I can remember thinking, ‘Why would I not want to live under this amazing sky every day?’ So choosing to live in the Southwest is an unparalleled inspiration. To paint a handful of earth and sky, to create and live in an artistic community, and simply to be a woman painter in the Southwest is inspirational.
H+G: What terrifies you?
Jacque: The current challenges to our democracy. The heartless tyranny of the 45th, the chilling January 6th Capitol insurrection, minority rule by extremists, voter suppression, stolen-election conspiracies, partisan anti-vaxxers. Creating a piece of art is a positive response to all the dark forces in the universe.
H+G: Why are you drawn to painting?
Jacque: Henri Mattise’s quote—‘some people are born seeing color’—really speaks to me. One of Georgia O’Keeffe’s first vivid memories was the colors of a picnic quilt she recalled seeing as a tiny baby! As a former store owner, I was privileged to be involved in public art—because creating and designing a store is definitely an art. The windows are 3D art, the welcoming visual and auditory atmosphere, and the products you choose to sell are all art. All those millions of art cards I sold were a visual warm-up for me becoming an artist. Being a painter was always my little soul seed waiting to be born, even though I didn’t pick up a brush until I was 50.
H+G: What artists do you admire?
Jacque: As a young reader I delved into biographies of famous artists. What made them tick, where did their inspiration come from, what cultural and religious forces did they overcome—early women painters were not allowed to paint landscapes, only still lifes. Imagine that! The oldies I admire are Pierre Bonnard, the Fauves, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani and Gustav Klimt. But contemporary art is really my driver, so Erin Hanson, Bob Burridge, Ian Roberts, Brian Rutenberg, Trisha Adams, Albert Handell, the Society of Six painters in California, Mark Rothko. I also admire the local Open Studios artists who open their doors to our community.
H+G: What is your favorite pastime?
Jacque: Music! Pandora accompanies much of my time at the easel and during COVID, I played Chopin piano duets with a friend to beat the isolation and share a few laughs because it was insanely challenging. Two weekly 7 a.m. yoga Zoom classes with Boulder’s William Malling is a gentle start to the day. And reading—newspapers, art books, fiction, nonfiction, poetry—along with being outside with friends and riding my electric-assist bike.
H+G: What do you want your art to say?
Jacque: Joy is in seeing and living. Matisse used to take his paintings to sick friends’ rooms and put them on the walls. He believed in the power of color to heal and delight, as do I. When visitors walk into my studio for the first time, the look of surprise and the ‘Wow!’ smile on their faces—that is what I want my art to say. When a client holds a colorful painterly jewel I’ve created in their hands and says, “Gotta have this!” my art is speaking right to their heart—and that’s powerful.
View Jacque Michelle’s art at POP! Gallery, an Open Studios-sponsored event at 1200 Pearl St. (lower mall level); Morning Glory Café in Lafayette; and at the Open Studios Tour during the first two weekends in October 2021. For classes or other inquiries, contact her at email@example.com or visit her online at jacquemichelleartworks.com.