Mike Ferguson is a Seattle-based artist who has been pursuing art full-time since 1988.
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Mike Ferguson: I was given acrylic paints at the age of nine — was drawing in grade school and painting/cartooning in junior high and high school. Continued from then on until now at 64 years of age. So pretty much all my life. My main medium of choice that I use most often is acrylic and latex paints on both wood panels and canvas. In the past, I have used oils for field painting and then also explored linocuts (block printing) for several years.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
My process has evolved through the years. Now, I typically begin a painting without any idea for where it is going. Sounds odd, I guess, but it's not too important WHEN an idea shows up but rather being able to recognize it when something presents itself. So I start with latex paints on a white primed panel and use a variety of broad tools ( large spatula-type things, scrapers and big brushes.) Color, shapes and dynamic markings occur. Washes, scraping off areas, applying more paint, repeating more of the same... is how it starts. I am always alert in these exciting raw stages for an idea to present itself, however tentative, something that points a direction or triggers an idea from all the layered-up ideas and observations in my subconscious. When a direction is found, or a specific idea is triggered, I slow down a lot and do more watching and visualizing than painting. I switch over to acrylics at this point as well using smaller tools and begin the more careful stage of crafting the scene. The character of my paintings can be harder edged with a flatter, graphic look to a softer, more broken-colored approach with colors percolating through each other.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
Life, in general, inspires me to paint. I am always on alert for potential ideas all day long, no matter what I'm doing. It could come from observing kids playing in the street or a cat sleeping or from the many hikes and wilderness adventures I enjoy often. The Cascade mountains are a large source of inspiration. They represent a calm scene of beauty devoid of hustle, bustle and human activity. These ideas just get layered up in my memory and subconscious through the years waiting for a future trigger to let them come to the surface.
Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
I'm not really in tune with city culture. I prefer nature influences and having a more solitary life.
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
There is a painting I did in about 2002 that is an imaginary wild scene of my two sons and I having dinner. It signals the beginning of painting straight out of my imagination without worrying about "realism." It was a turning point in my style and the way I approach painting.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
The painful vortex of divorce and a midlife malaise was the most potent event in my adult life. It somehow triggered some artistic abandon and risk-taking. This single event had the most impact but to a lesser degree. Living in different places and having different social connections also informed my art somewhat. Life changes can definitely enhance creativity, whether those changes are positive or not. Art can be an outlet for whatever type of energy is percolating in you.
If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
The place to see more of my work is at the Fountainhead Gallery on Queen Anne in Seattle. I have a show there in February 2023.
What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
What's next is more searching and observing, hoping to find a fresh expression of simple things I observe.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
Cream and sugar in my coffee, and if chocolate is involved, all the better.
About 'Artist of the Week': This city is packed with artists we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.