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(Image: Haley Michelle)

Artist of the Week: Haley Michelle

Haley Michelle is a painter based in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?

Haley Michelle: I have officially been painting for 12 years, doing commission work for six years, and officially running my small business selling my art for about six months now. I enjoy using every medium I can get my hands on, but I mostly create with charcoal and oil paints.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?

I start my paintings with dramatic lines and shapes in charcoal and acrylic inks. Starting with big bold colors and splash marks is my favorite part of the process. I like to move straight into oil paints after the basic form is established, using big brushes to cover the canvas and think about the dark shapes and the lightest shapes. Stepping back and considering the whole composition before moving forward into the more detailed part of the painting. I only pick a couple places to really hone into and really put a lot of attention into. I think the contrast of the small, detailed brushstrokes and the messy undone spaces underneath are really interesting and makes my work feel like me.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.

My artwork is inspired by Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, and Vincent Van Gogh. The approach to color, brushstrokes, and linework are all things I have loved and poured into my own pieces. I like to describe my work as a love affair between classic subject matters and mediums with a modern approach to color. Old masters like Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Dali have been a source of inspiration for me personally... loved them since I was a child. Whenever I see their work or read about them, I feel motivated to create something myself.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?

I am obsessed with Roman and Greek statues. They're just so beautiful and it's so impressive to think of the time and love that was put into a work of art. I love painting them and painting figures I think would make beautiful statues with bold colors based on the emotions I feel they are expressing.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?

My favorite painting I have done is called "Sad Girl Vibes." It was one of those works that felt like a problem the entire time I was painting it. It really pushed me in terms of keeping my head together while working on a piece. Sometimes I get really hard on myself while painting and question what I'm doing as I'm doing it. While I was working on that one, it became very therapeutic in that I was able to confront that part of myself and decide to just finish it without worrying about the final result. It has really changed how I paint and how I see my works even before they're done.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?

I was working at a job I didn't like, talking to a very sweet lady and she asked to see a painting of mine. As I showed her a picture on my phone of whatever I was working on at the time, she looked back at me with a huge smile and said "Oh Haley, you're an artist." It just dawned on me that even though I'm not where I want to be in life, I'm still an artist. I'm still doing what I want to do. It really changed the way I see my art.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?

You can find my work at and follow my journey and see a lot of my process on Instagram as @paleypaintz.

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?

I have a series on canvas that I've been working on about people and relationships that makes me so happy. I'm really pushing myself with this line of work as far as conveying a feeling with them and I'm really looking forward to seeing it completed. I am also in the beginning stages of creating a line of acrylic paintings on second-hand clothing. I am so excited about this because I love the idea of repurposing and giving things new life. I think it fits well with my love of classic artists and repurposing their works onto something accessible and wearable. I can't wait to show it off, it's going to be so fun.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)

I like my coffee strong and bitter with a splash of oatmilk.

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