Monday, September 12, 2011

Muse Found Everywhere: Michelle Junkin's Artwork

Michelle Junkin, One Hot Oklahoma Summer, Mixed Media, 12"x12" 
Q: Tell us about the inspiration for your 12 x 12 piece. 
Michelle Junkin: Overall, a big inspiration that drives my creative process is deep grateful appreciation and thankfulness for each day of life’s journey. My muse is often found within something from life’s everyday ordinary moments around me.  It might the color combination of a sunset, the pattern of brickwork found at the park, the rich red Oklahoma dirt, or the impression of a place that I just happened to visit. I find inspiration around every corner and strive to share the joy I see in the average everyday journey of life.  The other side of this muse is this: I was forever changed in December 2008, while pregnant, as I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was during this difficult time that I decided to rededicate myself, my time, and priorities to pursuing art which in the past, was often left on the back burner.  As a survivor, I strive to cherish and make the most of everyday; this includes making time to pursue my passion for creating art, living in the moment enjoying family and spending time with friends.  My art is infused with this spirit, even if one does not know it is there.

Specifically, this piece created for 12x12 is about Oklahoma. It strives to capture the worn, weathered, historical roots and depth of the land while evoking the feeling of hope and pride shared by Oklahomans today. I am a transplant to Oklahoma via Richmond, Virginia and before that from outside Chicago. Oklahoma was not what I had expected; it surprises me constantly. This painting is one in a series which draws inspiration from the Central Oklahoma landscape; the color of our red dirt, the expansiveness of our sky's horizon line, the reflective nature of our ponds, lakes, and rivers. Using these things as muses, I strive to create a modern landscape built around collaged magazine scraps to convey that Oklahoma is not a stagnant, drab or boring place. Rather, both our state and our people, are living into the hopeful vibrancy of today’s modern age and are ready to embrace all that the future holds with pride, our pioneering spirit, and the wisdom of ages past by our side.       
Michelle Junkin, Oklahoma Treasure: A little bit modern & A little bit vintage,
Mixed Media, 22"x22" (in 24 Works on Paper exhibition
Q:  How did you execute it technically?
MJ: First, I collect magazines. Then, I spend several days cutting out the word "Oklahoma." The pile of words are assembled in a loose pattern of varied colors and glued down across the midline of stretched canvas.  Then, I layout the basic landscape design around the collage with acrylic paint and wipe away sections so that I have a faded "blue print" of the landscape's color palette on the canvas.  Next, I start layering paint and distressing areas using a variety of tools; my favorites are often a brayer, stainless steel scraper, bamboo rod, and of course, the paintbrush. Taking a background color, mix that hue of acrylic paint with selected Golden products, like light molding paste or soft gel. I apply the gel (and / or paste) so that the edge of the collage magazine section begins to disappear seamlessly into the rest of the landscape. I let this dry and then paint a layer of pure acrylic paint in a section leading up to the collage area and cover the dried Golden product. This process is repeated several times, till a small well is formed, framing in the collaged section (this becomes important when finishing the piece). 

Focusing attention on the "land area," I use regular gel and heavy matt gel, which are tinted and apply depth to existing base color. While still wet, I make impressions with tools into this coat of gel and let it dry.  Once set, I will add second or third layers of colors (either pure paint or mixture of paint with gel) and scrape while wet. The wet paint settles amid the textured surface. Then, I select areas to wipe with water or dry cloth to reveal original colors hidden underneath. I let this section dry and go to work on the sky by first layering a dark color of blue; which once dry, I apply a mixture of acrylic paint and matte soft gel with a metal spatula - spreading the mixture like frosting (again, avoiding the well / collage section). I then go back to the collage section and apply a very thin coat of soft gel. Once dry, I wipe color across the magazine collage section, working quickly with the stainless steel scraper, I remove color downward. I repeat this process with several colors, scraping each quickly in a downward motion and re-layer areas if needed. 

While still wet, paying special attention to collage area, I remove areas of paint where I do not want any color using a mixture of water and alcohol. Once the desired "vintage worn layered feeling" is achieved in the piece, I apply self-leveling gel into the well / collage section making sure it fills the area to match each side.  Once dry, I apply a layer of soft gel to the entire painting. After three days, I apply varnish.        

Q: In what upcoming venues might audiences be able to see your work? 

View and purchase artwork by 150 Oklahoma artists October 1, 2011 at the 12x12 Art Fundraiser.  Buy tickets, read more and see pictures at

1 comment:

martin said...

Hey that's really a great post and a wonderful description out here, I really like the way things are being executed and discussed here.
use these ones
oklahoma magazine