Michelle M. Bryan is a local artist who specializes in watercolor art. It has been Art Nest’s pleasure to witness Michelle blossom as an artist whose work is now being viewed all over Cayman and internationally, getting the recognition and praise it so deserves. In our interview with Michelle, we find out where she draws her inspiration from as well as where she finds the time to practice her art. Read on to get a more in-depth view of the artist and her beautiful art.
Art Nest: When did your interest for art manifest itself?
Michelle: My interest in art manifested from a very early age - as early as 5 years old. I remember loving art class at Bodden Town Primary School days. There was painting, drawing, pottery and ceramics. I remember specifically dressing up as an Artist on Career Day.
Art Nest: Did your family encourage it or did they not take your interest seriously when you just started?
Michelle: My mom always encourages me to pursue my dreams and has always told me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. In addition to my mom, my husband also encourages me to hone my skills in art on a regular basis. It was right after we were married, in July 2016, that my husband asked me to design the cover of his notebook that reignited the spark of interest I had in art.
Art Nest: When did you start taking your art seriously?
Michelle: I started taking art more seriously in 2016 when I became more consistent in creating. I dabbled in many different avenues such as chalkboard art, acrylic, watercolor and ink. I decided to focus more on watercolor after my husband gifted me with the month-long watercolor class at Art Nest in January 2017. Art Nest taught me the fundamentals of watercolor painting which was the springboard I needed to grow in my art.
Art Nest: What measures did you take/ methods did you utilize to showcase your art? And how was it received?
Michelle: An old university classmate encouraged me to start an Instagram page to share my art with others. My Instagram page is still my primary place to showcase my art. The art community on Instagram is second to none. I've met so many different artists and created new connections and expanded my network just through sharing on Instagram. I also have a Facebook page which is how I receive many of my commissions. Other methods I use to showcase my art are Art Nest's Craft Market and Red Sky at Night which are great for exposure and getting future clients.
Art Nest: What encouraged you to undertake your first commissioned piece of art?
Michelle: I was approached by an old high school classmate to do a wedding sign. I was keen because someone was willing to pay me to do something I already loved doing. I eagerly took it on and she loved it!
Art Nest: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Michelle: My inspiration is drawn from many different places; from books, music I listen to, movies, Caymanian culture and everyday life. I grew up watching a lot of Disney classics and Ghibli Studio movies which is where my love for art and storytelling most likely began. In 2014 I was introduced to Sara Groves' music by my boyfriend at the time (now husband). Her music inspired me to "add to the beauty" with my life and my art.
Art Nest: Is your current occupation in the art field and if not, how do you keep motivated to practice your art?
Michelle: Currently I work in the corporate world by day and on my craft at night. I'm motivated to paint by the feeling of accomplishment it brings when a piece is completed. Also, I'm motivated if there is a deadline for a commission coming up.
Art Nest: How would you describe your artistic style?
Michelle: I would describe my artistic style as warm, vibrant, child-friendly, joyful, thoughtful, cheerful, and lively, I would say my style is still developing.
Art Nest: To date what has been your top 3 favorite pieces of art to create?
Michelle: My top 3 favorite created pieces to date are:
"Sheep To Serve", which is the Michellustrations logo,
"Love You a Little More", which was my first international commissioned piece, and
"Malala", inspired by the biography "I am Malala" written by Christina Lamb.
Art Nest: How did the partnership with Taste of Cayman come about and tell us a little more about the work that you've been chosen to do for them.
Michelle: Some friends at Tower Marketing proposed I create Caymanian inspired illustrations for the event. I love Taste of Cayman and Cayman culture and I knew it would be fun, so I was keen. My illustrations were largely inspired by Cayman culture and history. The women depicted are inspired by the strong Caymanian women in bygone eras -such as my own late grandmother, Ondina Wood and national hero, the Hon. Mrs. Sybil McLaughlin- who held local society together while the men went off to sea to make money for their families. In my illustrations, the women are dressed in traditional Cayman attire. The men are dressed in rolled-up shirt sleeves and pants legs and large straw hats as they had to go fishing for turtles, crab, conchs, lobsters and fish to feed their families. Cayman's culture is renowned for its friendliness and warmth. Cayman is also known for its fun and celebrations - whether it's a boat trip to Stingray City or the Pirates Week and Batabano Parades! I wanted my illustrations to portray the “Cayman kind” and fun of the islands I grew up in.
Art Nest: Any other partnerships in the near future and what organization or individual would you love to collaborate with?
Michelle: I have a few upcoming commissions that I'm eager to begin and share with my supporters soon. I would love to collaborate with more children book authors. Also, I would love to work with Disney, I love the artistry in their movies and the stories they tell. I would also love to work with Sara Groves - her music is a vehicle to share deep truths. If she ever needed an illustrator for one of her songs, I would gladly volunteer.
Art Nest: Where can people find your artwork?
Michelle: You can find my artwork on Instragram and Facebook at Michellustrationsky.