People-Watching, Meditation Fuel Artist's Creativity



Artist Quinn Michaels picked up a brush for the first time in 2002 and began painting in oil colors.

Prior to that he had drawn with pencil and had done graphic design and designed financial analysis systems.


Artist Quinn Michaels as himself painting everything he has learned as a process of going through the door. "You can kind of see that this is an abstract book and it represents the black and whiteness, the decisions, the learning, the library ..." Michaels said. "Red swirls represent the rose, the female energy that resides in the back of your mind."

"Fear limits creativity and being afraid of your creativity limits you," Michaels said.

To paint was a longtime dream. To do it well was scary at first.

"Confront your fear and it is only momentary. Allow it to drag on and it can stifle your creativity for years," he said.

When Michaels lost his day job as a computer consultant in Los Angeles he decided that if he was going to struggle, he was going to struggle with something he really loved to do.

So the Arizona native packed up everything and started over, first in the Valley, now in Payson, with a bit of traveling thrown into his equation of life.

He's been to 15 states in the last couple of years.

Michaels finds inspiring subjects as his explorations allow him to paint things outside of himself rather than "being in solitude painting myself."

"I make up everything I can about people I meet," he said. "I let their ideas and things that happened in their lives help produce pictures in my own."

Ravens fly though photographs he has taken and perch in his paintings.

He sees the black-winged birds everywhere, but has not been able to get just the right photograph he desires.

"I want to take the raven and do a series of works with it as the subject matter," he explained

One surreal series he's painted of a boy is representative of himself and what he was going through at various stages while growing up.

"I used the subject matter to release what I was feeling and also illustrate kind of what I see in the world.

"I remove myself from (the subject) in a sense and not just visualize, but look at the how each thought relates to each thing I am putting into the painting or how it relates to my life -- it is all one big conglomeration," he said.

A photo of a piece of the series -- a work he sold a few years ago -- is on his Web site

"It's a little boy standing in front of two doors holding a red balloon. One door is blue. One door is brown. One door has a direct path going to it one has a step. There is water in the middle and (the boy) stepped off the path going to the normal door and is standing in the water with his red balloon figuring out which choice he is going to make in his life. The red balloon represents that second before he lost his innocence."

Meditation complements his study and observation of people and helps him understand his subjects.

So did the personal development seminars he took as a teen.

Am I good enough? is a question people ask themselves.

You take something from your soul that you took the time, energy and passion to create and put it on a wall for someone to look at and openly critique -- It is a freaky scary being an artist I think, Michaels said.

Modern, abstract, contemporary, cartoony or surreal, he plans to keep painting.

When Michaels is not pursing his art he is sharing it with his almost-3-year-old son, Trent.

"We draw together and he likes me to draw and make him elephants out of Play-Doh," Michaels said.


Name: Quinn Michaels

Age: 28

Motto: I live in a totally imaginary world.

Fave movie: "Chaplin" with Robert Downey, Jr.

Advice to painters: Don't listen to anybody.

Invented: A patented easel that allows an artist to put a round (or any shape) canvas on it. The canvas is held from the inside.

First influence: Jackson Pollock

Current project: An free online artists community to help artists manage their portfolio and sales.

Point of contact: or (928) 978-3774.

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