Christopher Michel, who also goes by CAM, creates absolutely fantastic compositions, which manifest from dreams and his imagination. Self-taught and influenced by his experience when he was deployed to Afghanistan ten years ago, his work comes from a deep-seated need to express himself through the medium of painting. More information and examples of his work can be found at the link at the bottom of this page!
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Hi Christopher! First, tell me a bit about yourself. Where are you from, and where are you based now?
I am from Long Island, New York. I often exhibit in the Hamptons or NYC.
Can you tell me a bit about how you first began making art?
I used to be the artistic child in school and win awards. My mom once saw one of my paintings in a school show and said, "Ew, who painted this?" And I was like that's mine! Proving that my style was different and always disturbing.
What drives you to pursue painting and drawing?
Painting gives me a euphoric feeling and gets my endorphins pumping. It allows me to be free and connected at the same time.
I gather that you're self-taught. What are your thoughts on being described as an "outsider artist?"
I am self taught, and enjoy folk and outsider art. I think it is the most organic and interesting. I often hear artists who went to art school critique my work by saying, you shouldn't do that, or that's risky, but I feel like they are limiting their creativity by doing what they are taught instead of what they feel.
What is your studio or workspace like?
I used to have a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and I'm looking to move to the city because there is more exposure.
How much time do you typically spend there?
My painting sessions usually last all day, and I neglect everything including food.
Your paintings generally reflect a sort of continuous narrative; are there stories to be "read" in them?
Painting is the best way for me to express myself. I am a visual learner, and feel like I am always on the outside looking in. Art allows others to see what goes on inside my mind. I like when people dissect my art and tell me things that I didn't realize. An artist the other day mentioned all the layers in my art are a reflection of the type of person I am.
How do you get started on a new work?
I usually start by mixing acrylic, oil, and primer in paint bottles because I like the consistency. Sometimes I will draw an idea or refer back to notes I have jotted down from dreams and visions I have had.
Where do your ideas come from?
Usually when I am asleep, or close to falling asleep, I have visions in my mind that are very abstract and I try to recreate them on canvas or paper. My background consists of time spent in the military, and my college degree is in anthropology. I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and incorporate my world view through art.
What is your favorite thing about your chosen medium?
I always use multiple mediums including acrylic, oil, primer, pastels, and color pencils. It is important for me to use broad strokes and details to tie paintings together.
How do you define "success" when it comes to your art?
Success to me comes in many forms. I feel that when my work gets exhibited, that is a success. Or when someone wants to purchase a piece, I feel a great deal of admiration. Working on a painting takes a lot of time and dedication, so I find success when a piece becomes complete.
What do you find to be most challenging about pursuing art, whether creatively or professionally?
Each and every part of art has its challenges. From the process of creating art, or half way through the painting I get the feeling that it will never get finished, to having to work hard to get shows together, to completing sales. It takes a lot of work, but the passion is always there to succeed.
What do you feel that you need most as an artist?
For any artist, whether it's a musician, actor, model, etc., the will to never give up is most important.
Do you have any current projects or upcoming shows that you're working on?
I have a few paintings I am working on now; there are so many projects I have started but haven't picked up in a while. I am planning on showing this winter in New York City.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank outlets like yours where artists can get their name and work out. It really helps artists get connected to the outside world. It is important to get out of the studio and experience life so that inspiration doesn't become stagnant. Art is the number one love for me and becomes a top priority. It is important for me to get outside of the artwork every once in a while to regain sanity.
Find more at neoexpressionist.com!
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