Michelle Wiseman

Michelle Wiseman was born and raised in Montreal. She draws her inspiration from abstract and contemporary artists including Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.

A hyperactive and inattentive student, teachers suggested she draw in class to avoid distracting others. Her work is borne of her hundreds of doodle-filled textbooks and evokes vitality, joy, lightheartedness and nostalgia. It was in this spirit that Michelle depicted bacteria under a microscope in her piece “Sunny-Side-Up”. 

Picture of artist Michelle Wiseman

What did you want to be when you were growing up? And when did you first realize you wanted to be an artist? 
When I was growing up, I had a strong desire to become a rock star or musician, driven by my immense passion for music, particularly funk and psychedelic rock. However, my path took a turn when I realized I could fuse my love for music with my artistic inclinations. It was at that point I knew I wanted to be an artist, as I saw the potential to weave my musical passions into my paintings, creating a vibrant symphony of color, rhythm, and emotion.

Are there any specific artists or movements that have influenced your work?Absolutely, Joan Miró, Wassily Kandinsky, and Jean-Michel Basquiat have been my biggest influences. Miró's playful abstraction, Kandinsky's color emotion, and Basquiat's raw expression have deeply shaped my artistic approach. Their styles resonate with my love for funk and psychedelic rock, inspiring me to infuse music's energy into my visual creations.

How and where do you find inspiration on a regular basis?
On a regular basis, my main wellspring of inspiration flows from the music of the 70s, especially funk and psychedelic rock. This era's sonic richness shapes my creative vibe. My "Music Series," where each artwork is named after a song that sparked it, exemplifies how deeply music weaves into my artistic process.

What does your process look like from ideation to completion?
My process kicks off with a musical journey or a recent fascination, like the mesmerizing world of bacteria under microscopes, which led to my "Under the Microscope" series. From there, I sketch out initial ideas and themes. Colors, textures, and the essence of the music guide my palette and strokes. The canvas evolves, layer by layer, until the piece feels harmonious. My journey concludes when the artwork captures the heart of the music or concept that ignited it.

What emotions or thoughts do you wish to spark in viewers?
Through my art, I aim to ignite a medley of emotions—joy, nostalgia, vitality, and lightheartedness. I intend to evoke an organized chaos that resonates with viewers. Having emerged from a shadowed past and a turbulent household, I aspire to convey the opposite—light, vibrancy, and a sense of wonder, creating a visual journey that uplifts and inspires.

How has your practice or style changed over time?
Over time, my approach has transformed significantly. I used to dive in with minimal planning, relying on intuition. Now, my process involves meticulous preparation. I accumulate concept images, conduct palette tests, and explore various angles before even touching the canvas. This shift has brought depth and intentionality to my work, enriching the final outcome.

What is a common misconception that people have about artists or the art world?
One misconception I often notice is that people tend to underestimate minimalism and contemporary art. There's a belief that these styles are easy or lack intention, leading to the notion that anyone can create them. In reality, these genres require deep thought, skill, and an understanding of their nuanced complexities.