Photos of Michelle Marcotte's paintings, including her new series of food paintings, are found at: michellemarcotte.com
I started painting when I was ten years old, taking lessons in a closed hair salon on a back street and then in an art studio operated by a nun in Windsor, Ontario. Later, I studied art at Vincent Massey SS, taking visual arts every day for an hour or two for five years. At the University of Windsor (Ontario Canada) I studied drawing, sculpture, art history and film as a minor - my major studies were in home economics and food science.
Believing that art would not pay the bills, I spent the next 25 years working as a home economist, journalist, a food technologist, a regulatory affairs consultant and an international agri-environmental technical expert. I became the Co-Chair of an expert committee in the United Nations Montreal Program for Ozone Depleting Substances. I own regulatory, agri-environmental consulting and medical editing companies in Canada and the United States. My work was (and is) quite diverse in the fields of food and agriculture, international environmental treaty issues, regulated fine chemicals, radiation processing, science and medical editing (business website: marcotteconsulting.com). In 2011, I began reducing my consulting commitments and now am almost a full-time artist.
During my business career, my art studies were limited to just trying to see. I have travelled to, and worked in, over 40 countries, spending considerable time in museums and galleries in Paris, Vienna, China (Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu), Thailand, England, and several other countries. I have kept my eyes open. I continue to travel extensively and study art independently.
Fifteen years ago, I was looking at the paintings of the Hapsburgs in Vienna and I thought that my middle-class Canadian family was just as interesting, and told the story of Canada as much as the Hapsburgs told the story of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So, I started to paint again, diving first into oil portraiture of family, and then painting the next most important thing in life -- food.
In 2003 I moved from Ottawa, Canada to Maryland to marry a delightful American. I became the Arts Curator of University United Methodist Church on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park and founded the UUMC Visual Arts Guild. I converted a large space in the church into a gallery and launched several exhibits each year, selecting artists from the public and students at the university. In 2010 I became an American, keeping my Canadian citizenship.
In 2011, we moved to Niagara Falls (Canada), where I became Chair of the Board of Directors of Community Artists Niagara, a volunteer position. I started an artist-in-residence program and obtained grants for ten artists in residence. In 2011, in Niagara Falls, I focused most of my paintings on my passions for food and cooking. In 2013 I began painting in the Niagara Falls farmer's market and developed a plein-air approach to painting food, fresh, prepared and cooked.
We now live in Lewiston NY, wintering near Gainesville Florida. In 2014, I founded the River Region Artists' Studio Tour and Art Walk in the Lewiston and Youngstown area (in October each year - you can find us on Facebook). In 2016 I won one of only two commission awards to continue my series of food paintings from the New York State Council on the Arts for Niagara County. I am active in several arts organizations in the Niagara region and Gainesville Florida.
I paint the most important things in life - people, food and the land that sustains us.
I paint people in defining spaces and moments: the 70-yr old man cutting a birthday cake, the girl in her prom dress, the boy on the cusp of manhood about to embark on a canoe trip, the eight-year old who has just figured out who she is, the kid who will only make funny faces for the camera.
I do not see my food paintings as 'still life'. I see them as dinner - about the importance of preparing and eating a meal with family and friends, about the swirl of a lively kitchen and the goodness of wholesome ingredients. Food in the kitchen moves from hand to chopping board to table and the foods in my paintings might, bounce, fly or take a magic carpet ride over the fields. I figure out what I am going to cook, buy it, set it out, photograph it, paint it and then eat it. Some food paintings are symbolic because they also tell stories of where I am or who I am with. And some make you laugh because laughter is part of a good meal.
The landscapes I paint are derivatives of reality; I paint landscapes in plein-air or from my own photographs. I am not very interested in detail. I look at agricultural spaces from above, and wild landscapes that capture light, movement and color.
I balance my time between in-studio with fresh food, and outdoors with fresh air.
My art website is: michellemarcotte.com