Mychaelyn Michalec – Painting in the Dark

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An artist friend said I had to meet Mychaelyn Michalec, a painter who was creating fabulous work in her basement in the dark.  My friend knew I would be intrigued and would want to arrange a photo shoot, which I did.

When I arrived, Mychaelyn offered me a cup of coffee and showed me some of the art she has collected, all by Dayton artists.     

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Then we walked down the stairs to her basement and she started opening her paint containers.  Mychaelyn said she had been away from painting for 10 years but had recently decided to start again.   She quit her job and started putting together 20 works that will be exhibited in a storefront at 13 North Williams Street in the Wright Dunbar District.  The show opens June 19 and is titled “Comes Furnished, Goes Furnished.”

“All of this paint was given to me by friends after their home painting projects” she told me.  “Their leftovers have become my palette.”

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“The images used in my paintings come from this pile of furniture catalogs that I had or that were given to me. I look for items that appeal to me and I draw them.”

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“Before I can get to work, I need to make it dark down here.  I usually work at night, but by covering the basement windows we can get it dark enough.”

The skateboard collection belongs to Mychaelyn’s husband.

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When the light was gone, Mychaelyn used a projector to put her traced images onto her canvas.  The photo below doesn’t show how dark the room was because I used a flash.

Mychaelyn told me that unlike most artists, she doesn’t dream about a larger studio filled with natural light.  She would love more space, but filling that space with light wouldn’t work for her.

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As Mychaelyn painted, she didn’t follow the lines projected on the canvas.  She painted on both sides of the line so the line would be a negative space that allowed the underlying design on the canvas to show through.

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Mychaelyn told me that the hardest part of her return to painting was deciding when a work was finished.  Two of her finished works are shown below.  The two paintings shown together are called “Daddy took the coffee table” (on left) and “They came to an arrangement.”

The lower photo shows part of a painting titled “Fully furnished inefficiency, mother and her second husband.”

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Before Mychaelyn turned off the lights and returned to work, I got her to pose for one last photo.

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