We had the good fortune of connecting with Michaela Moffett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michaela, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Art is inherently precarious and uncertain. We, as artists, create whatever we want to and display it to an audience in hopes of connection or reaction of some kind. However, no matter how hard we try, we can rarely, if ever, guarantee the reaction we desire. Risk comes in so many different forms. Generally, when I think of risk, I think of placing myself out of my comfort zone and stretching beyond contentment. In other words: risking my comfort and stability, pushing beyond the fearful voice that inevitably follows me anytime I’m about to approach a possible precipice of inspiration. There is no growth, no success, no creativity without some risk. Since I was young, I naturally have always desired excitement and had an enormous curiosity for all things creative, thought-provoking and adventurous. These sentiments led me to many incredible opportunities. One particular monumental risk that has affected my career and art thereafter included flying to Italy to live and study 1 year at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy, where I had to become almost fluent in the Italian language in several months, take a 7 day entrance exam, and learn how to function in a completely new culture. That risk alone was one of the best opportunities I’ve ever stepped into, and have dictated how I see myself, how I see my art, and how I approach the fear of risk since. Over this last year, as hours at work began to decline more and more, I found myself in my studio everyday. This year, risk took on many different forms, such as monetary loss in investing in myself financially through buying courses online, purchasing better supplies, marketing and upgrading my website. I have found that generally with the risks that have confronted me in my career, the benefit outweighs the risk significantly, even though fear and doubt makes it seem like the opposite reality.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Art has always been an enormous part of my life, having spent 10 years at an art school through childhood, 6 years studying drawing and painting at CSUF, including 1 year in Florence, Italy, and now teaching and working in my own studio painting. Through the years I have learned how to accurately represent and traditionally draw and paint. However, recently, I have been really interested in simplifying the idea of representation to shapes and color relationships. Through this approach, my focus is understanding color impeccably and being able to push and pull color to create different perceptions of environments or people. In my personal life, I find myself constantly analyzing, contemplating, compartmentalizing, and organizing my thoughts and my environment as a way to feel controlled and calm. Recently, I discovered these particularities of my personality was emerging in my painting, manifesting itself in internalization of my world, deliberate shape-making and ensuring each block of color I create has a specific color identity and I have become obsessed with it. Taking inspiration from a variety of incredible colorists such as Harold Gilman, Ewan Uglow, Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Richard Diebenkorn to name a few, they each inform me how to reflect my unique vision of my environment and perspective. However, the love of making artwork is what sustains me and continues to motivate me to explore and take unexpected turns. As my professor, Joe Forkan would say, “let your studio be a laboratory, not a factory.” I have ambitions and a voice, but what I focus on day-to-day is just getting to my studio and making work and making my work better and better each day.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Downtown Fullerton is where I spend a lot of time, mostly in coffee shops and small hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Some of my favorites include Pilgrims Coffee, Frame Coffee, and Made Coffee – all have a unique atmosphere and a great place to catch up with friends, sketch, or read a book. Another local favorite of mine is Clyde’s fried chicken. For entertainment, the Muckenthaler Cultural Center has a great display of local artist’s work and events.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many influences in my art career and development, both individuals who are a part of my life now and past artists who’s lives and artwork have considerably impacted my own. Thankfully, I come from a family who are very supportive of the arts. If it wasn’t for my grandmother who was constantly affirming my artwork and mom signing me up for my first art class at 8 years old, I’m not sure I would have fallen in love with art the same way I have. From age 8 to 18, I attended an art school, learning from the same instructor, Cherene Raphael. She was the first person who invested unimaginable time in her teaching and personal work, which from a very young age inspired me to want to share my own voice through artistic expression in some way. In addition, Van Gogh’s rawness and vulnerability spoke to me so deeply, I desired to elicit a similar sincerity in my own work. CSUF professor Joe Forkan’s acute color understanding and interactive teaching set an incredible foundation for my own color knowledge, shape making, and love for landscape painting.