We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Michael Schuessler a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Michael, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today What sort of legacy are you hoping to build. What do you think people will say about you after you are gone, what do you hope to be remembered for?
“Changing the perception of pastels, One stick at a time.” Putting Pastels on the map and changing the worlds perception of the medium forevermore.
Chalk pastels are known as being done on paper and displayed under glass, 99% of the time. relatively small scale
This medium has so many other applications available. The intensity and size can be made so much more!
I uses chalk Pastels in very Large scale on Raw untreated canvas with a special acrylic medium, that is archival and UV-resistant. I use the medium in small very small amounts on wet canvas, in a series of transparent layers. innovation at its best.
It was created over 40 years ago by my mentor Nancy Hannum. Nancy had me do her under-paintings, swore me to secrecy as far as the technique and how it was applied and the medium she used.. I have been working on this medium all these years and it’s time for it to be recognized.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
My journey in becoming the artist that I am was long, somewhat challenging, yet beautiful. When I was 4 my mother Immigrated from Germany to the USA just trying to give us a better life, which Indeed it is.
From a young age, she instilled creativity in all ways, within me, starting with the “DRAW ME” head in the newspaper. I drew it, sent it in, and was accepted into their program, (I’m sure everyone was, but I knew no difference then.) It was the catalyst, my beginning. It gave me the confidence I needed.
I sketched from real-life subjects with pencil and paper. Some years after that my mom allowed me to paint murals on the walls of the different homes we lived in, always supporting me and my artistic urges. I used the paints we had leftover upon moving in and anything I could find to be creative with.
My Mom is a bit of a mystic and through the years she introduced me to different types of spiritualism. She allowed me to choose and become the Man, Artist, and Healer that I am. Spirit is what drives my work, (I study the Hermetic side of spiritualism, Healing with Sound and Color, etc.) All of these things and everything before this area I now reside in has gotten me to where I am now. It allows me to connect on a deeper level with Spirit, which in turn heightens my intuition and my ability to let spirit flow through me and thus through my works with color and movement.
I sold my 1st piece of art to the Postmaster general in Larkspur, Colorado (A Dragon) at the age of 12, and I haven’t looked back since. My medium has changed over the years. Starting with pencil sketches, then Latex and Oil paint wall murals, whatever was available I used to be creative.
In the late 80’s I found Nancy Hannum in Littleton, Colorado. She took me under her wing and I went into a strict apprenticeship for years under her supervision. This is when I learned the medium, I use today. Chalk Pastel on Raw canvas, which I bind together with a special bonding agent, in a series of transparent layers. This is a medium/technique that no one else uses… and until recently I was sworn to secrecy as far as the properties of the binding agent and application process.
I find that this medium, above all others I have used, allows the spirit to flow through me. I can affect people on a deeper spiritual and/or emotional level. You can almost hear the colors, see the vibrations of healing through the beauty that lays within the shapes and motion.
My medium is ever-changing, I am always experimenting with other agents to intensify the colors. The basis is always the same (PASTEL). I have added phosphorescent powders and pastels to change the work under UV light. in essence two different personalities in one work of art. I’m also applying for an epoxy resign over the works. It’s my new “Shades of Living Color series, Shinny and intense, you can see your own spirit within the works. I evolve every day yet the spirit and body of the workflows with my style and essence. Now I also use Gold ,Silver and Copper leaf to create another fascinating dimension.
Over the years I have shown in many galleries and had different Gallery representations. I also do commission works, specifically tapping into the people’s energy and creating their own personal work of art. In the 90’s I had two Galleries of my own, one on 22nd St. and one on Larimer Street in Denver, Voted one of Denver’s top 5 studios by CBS 4.
In addition to my Gallery representations, I’m now taking my art to the people, doing Fine Art Fairs, going all over the country, taking my art to the people, also promoting others and their creativity with our own Arts Festival/show in Telluride Colorado every September. The Telluride Cars and Colors Fine Arts and Sculpture Show, soon to be Telluride Autumn Classic.
I find creating and getting the work out to the people and allowing them to see and experience it is what makes me the Happiest It’s my way to give and heal others, with light, color, and movement, the Spirit of the pigments. I feel so blessed to be able to heal others through my works, to see the emotion on their faces hear the joy in their voices…There is no other place in the world that you can follow your dreams make a living at it, and at the same time capture the hearts and minds of the people that surround you.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I guess it depends on perception. Fine Art/ Painting Is easy on the Soul it makes me breathe easier. It’s what keeps me sane. In all reality, without it, I would fold up and decay. We all need something… Some little thing we can make our own, something that makes us smile on the inside. whether it’s a smile, a beautiful smile, a thought, or a warm embrace. My art gives me that warm embrace and I share it with others.
Yes, it’s been difficult, selling your creativity and depending on it to be successful can make it into a choir. It sometimes feels like the light fades ever so slightly into the darkness. What do I paint? How do I sell it? Where do I sell it? Do they Like it? All this and more can be problematic… and stifle creativity.
When I began these were the thoughts that I pondered, and during my Apprenticeship, I met a wise man Robert Stromeyer from the Colorado academy of arts. I asked him; what do I paint to be successful? Cars, airplanes, landscapes? His response, “Michael paint from the heart let the spirit move you, and if you feel the work if it speaks to you… then you’re doing what you need to do. Someone else will feel the same as you do and it will be good, and you will be successful, Paint from the heart.”
I still ponder these things at times get lost in the semantics of making a living, how can I not?
I have found, that after the many years (40) of doing this, that a healthy body, leads to a healthy mind, a healthy mind leads to a healthy Spirit, a healthy Spirit Provides everything you need to be successful. Not just as an artist but as a human being. Art makes my spirit soar, it heals, I do the art and the art does me. The circle of life.
We’d love to hear about how you keep in touch with clients.
I reach out to my Clients each and every time I come into their area. I send them a special note, and more often than not we get together and have dinner, or they have us over for events highlighting my paintings, and sharing them with their friends and colleagues.
Can you share one of your favorite marketing or sales stories?
I had one of my elderly clients from Arizona come into my booth ,(before she became my client), she loved my work but it was way out of her price point. She actually grabbed her chest and said oh NO.. “I, I- just can’t…. I’m looking for something else… I said I could work with her maybe a special piece something in her price point and smaller in size.
She smiles and said thank you.. but no thank you. I smiled and said there were other beautiful works out there in her color and price range and thanks for stopping by.
At that time I took a lunch break walking 10 -15 minutes to our lodging, left my wife to care for the booth.
I just got there and I received a text from her to come back right away..
So I ran back.. come to find out it was that sweet elderly person back in my booth, mind you the oldest person I’ve had interested in any of my works.
We chatted for quite a while and next thing you know she wanted me to do a special commission piece for her.
I took the piece she loved, over to her home plus and a second for color matching and sizing..
her home was spectacular her design choices were spot on. just beautiful , come to find out she designed the home also.
Long story short I showed the piece she loved, it was the exact color & size she needed, But she also wanted one on the other side of the Fireplace. The second piece I brought was the same color pallet and size it worked out fantastically!
This was the most valuable purchase she had ever made as far as Fine Art
We now go to dinner with her every time we come into town.
A wonderful experience for both of us.
- Website: https://www.schuesslerstudios.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michael_schuessler_fine_art/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Michael.SchuesslerGman
- Twitter: michaelschuessler
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@MichaelSchuessler
Photographer Sherry Little Fawn Photography www.schuesslerstudios.com