Brushstrokes of Genius: An Interview with Michael Creese

Artist Michael Creese is no stranger when it comes to creating vibrant pieces of art about a variety of subjects. From animals to oceans, florals to fields, Creese’s oil impasto style of painting allows him to create pieces of art like you’ve never seen before. With each stroke his brush, and sometimes palette knife, colors combine to create awe-inspiring and memorable strokes of genius. Find out more about Michael Creese below:


Michael Creese Portrait


Surround Yourself: Tell us a bit about your artistic process. Do you like to jump in and see where the brush takes you or do you have an idea of what you want each piece to look like before you get started?
Michael Creese: I have an idea of what I want typically, before I start painting, but it never ends up being quite like what I had imagined. I think that is what keeps art exciting for me.
I paint exclusively with oil and knives – no brushes – and the technique that I employ doesn’t lend itself well to a very controlled or planned regimen. Instead, there is a lot of spontaneity involved. In fact, a lot of what I feel are the most interesting passages in my paintings are completely random for the most part.


Tancho Sanke Koi


SY: Was there a moment when you realized you wanted to be an artist as a career?
MC: Yes. Around the age of 14 or 15 art became a definite direction for me. I received a lot of encouragement from my high school art teachers, which really helped to guide me on a path.
College was a bit more of a challenge for me because I had to break free of some of the ideas about art that I had come to believe, especially about representational art, but it eventually helped me to develop the style that I have now.




SY: How has the art scene in Pittsburgh influenced your artwork and style?
MC: I have never really been involved in the local Pittsburgh art scene, and I have never felt a great desire to show my work in art galleries. My paintings have always sold much quicker at other venues, and with the advance of the internet now there is even less of a need to rely on galleries. Pittsburgh has plenty to offer to local artists, it’s just not how I roll so to speak.
The Pittsburgh area had a lot of steel mills when I was growing up. In winter especially it was sort of depressing scenery with the dull gray metal buildings and constantly bellowing smoke stacks. I’m sure that must have had some influence on my painting style, even if to only force me to create beauty in my mind when I could not find it around me.
Some of my landscapes are of scenes from the Pennsylvania countryside. I have also lived in Florida and visited most of California, and that has been a tremendous inspiration behind the seascapes.


 Keywest Florida Sunset


SY: You’ve designed a couple of book covers. How were those experiences different from your regular routine of creating art?

MC: The book cover requests were made after the paintings were completed, so they were painted independently of a book title, but I am always fascinated as to why an author chooses a particular painting for a book cover and how it relates to the theme of the book.


 Origami Crane


SY: What keeps you inspired and motivated to create new art?

MC: It is sometimes hard to get motivated, but inspiration seems to happen on its own.
I get inspired by so many different things. It can come from a movie, a book, a drive in the country. Friends can also give you inspiration in ways that you would never have imagined. A friend’s love of martinis is what inspired my series of martini paintings.


 Pink Lemonade Martini


SY: How do you know when a piece is finished?

MC: I know when a painting is finished once it has a certain quality that is hard to describe, but it’s at a certain point when it takes on a life of its own. It helps to step back and look from a distance too. At that point I start a subtraction process, where I try to eliminate marks or fix parts of the painting that do not work, until it eventually looks complete.




SY: You have hundreds of incredible pieces of art! Do you have a favorite?
MC: I love the panda series. One particular painting entitled Watercolors – of a panda sitting in a rowboat with water reflections – is probably my favorite. It has a Zen-like quality that I really love.




Some of my landscapes are particular favorites of mine as well, such as the poppy field entitled Arabesque.




There is also a painting of a skull with a rose entitled Forgotten which is a special painting for me.




SY: What’s been the proudest moment of your career?
MC: I had always sold my art in person, until I put about a dozen paintings on display at an inn located in Glen Echo, Maryland, many, many moons ago.

When the staff there told me that several paintings had sold, it was then that I realized that my art could sell itself. That was a special moment for me because I think it gave me the confidence at the time to push forward as an artist and I realized that my paintings were taking on a life of their own. At that point I knew there was something I was doing that other people could relate to, something that they found in my artwork that was appealing enough to display in their homes.




SY: How would you describe your style at home?
MC: I have an eclectic mix of furniture and collectibles. There is no real rhyme or reason to it unfortunately.


 Electric Guitar


SY: What do you surround yourself with?
MC: I think representations of nature make the best surroundings indoors. So I have a lot of animal carvings and statues, plants, shells, and similar decor.
Most of my oil paintings are themes from nature too, so the room extends that vision for me.


 Jazz Sax


SY: And just for fun: do you have any secret talents (other than creating incredible pieces of art, of course)?
MC: I’m afraid that I don’t. I failed miserably at trying to learn music. There are not many things I can do well apart from art, so I thank my lucky stars for that gift.


Winter Sunset


Thanks, Michael! Find Michael Creese’s collections on Great BIG Canvas and Imagekind.