Michelle Purvis


I confess, I’m a tree hugger who shops at goodwill and I'm not embarrassed about it anymore. I jump at the occasion to address sustainable living to anyone who comes across my path and is interested in listening to me. My comprehensive practice incorporates both the positive and negative associations between the earth and our behaviors. We instinctively adapt to innovation but disregard the impacts we have on our environment until it is too late. We do not own land, it is a gift for us to protect, enjoy, and replenish. Trees provide us with so many benefits and being one of earths crucial renewable resource I have been developing works specifically related to forest conservation and reforestation over the last four years. I challenge my audience to be more thoughtful about consumerism, ecological preservation, and sustainable living.

Since 2005 my work has been ever changing but has always been concerned with the fundamental values of sustainability. Early in my career I sought out reclaimed and found objects as substrates to demonstrate my concern for sustainable development in our society. As a component of my work I also recycled paint from local paint distributors. In the last seven years I have been more concerned with the context of sustainability in my compositions rather than the materials themselves. Throughout my career I have been engaged in cross-disciplinary practices, combining materials that traditionally would not go together. I have explored combining canvas, thread, and fabric, paper, charcoal, graphite, watercolor and acrylic paint onto various two dimensional platforms.

My latest body of work begins with charcoal or graphite to sketch out figurative landscapes that integrate body forms with our natural world. On either canvas or gessoed watercolor paper, the first layer of paint I use mixes the carbon with the water media. This translucent layer leaves behind faint lines that I later use to develop my composition. The support of my palette is muted, expressing a sense of tranquility. My palette includes two hues of each primary color and white mixed together at different intensities. I find that mixing paint by picking up dabs of each color and blending them together onto my substrate creates dynamic layers and colors I would not normally explore. After finding my painted composition I bring the carbon media back into the work to define important areas. I am also able to create an illusion of movement while I draw outside the lines of the painted forms and a sense of surrealism within the scale shifting trees and the detail of the graphite lines.

My art practice includes multi-disciplinary surrealists compositions that intrigue my audience to audit their existence. I have worked on series that both, make aware the history of our shared land, as well as works that explore adopting new behaviors to rectify our years or abuse. I focus my energy challenging one person, one neighbor, and my community about how products are made and how they find the way to our doorsteps. Challenge them to think about the mark they are creating and leaving behind for our children to fix.I believe that with sustainable awareness and development in our communities, along with the practice itself, it is in our best interest to preserve our earth for future generations.