Artist of the Month
Michaela Hoppe in her Biggar studio
Michaela Hoppe (ne McBee) was born in 1985 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She began painting in high school, and later studied painting, drawing, and art history at the University of Saskatchewan (2003-2006)
Michaela paints mainly in oils, and her current primary focus is figure painting, although she also paints landscape and abstract works.
Michaela's work can be found in the collection of the Biggar Museum and Gallery, in Biggar, Saskatchewan. Michaela is a past artistic director of the Biggar Museum and Gallery, and is a member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council.
Below are some examples of Michaela's work available for purchase through our NACmarket, and an interview with Michaela from December 2013.
NACmarket: Michaela Hoppe
by Artist of the Month Michaela Hoppe
by Artist of the Month Michaela Hoppe
How did you come be living in Biggar, and how does living in Biggar effect your work?
I was born and raised in Biggar. Biggar has always been home for me. The prairie landscape around my home town inspires me daily. The wide open spaces, the ever changing skies, and of course the loving community, fuel my art in a way that words can not really explain. My art is what it is because of my environment and the peace I feel living within it.
How did you come to be an artist?
I always enjoyed drawing, right from when I was little. As a child and young adult I focused on dance, singing, and theatre more than any kind of fine art. When I was in grade 10 I had an art teacher who looked at my drawing skills and suggested that I try my hand at painting. “Suggested” is a loose term. He put a canvas in front of me, a brush in my hand, a palette of rich oil paint, and told me to paint a pastoral scene of cows in a field. It was love. I spent every art class, every spare, and most lunch hours in the art room painting. I painted landscapes and animals but I wanted to paint figures. I felt that painting people was my ultimate goal as an artist.
How would you describe your artwork?
My art is about communicating a moment in time. My art is not here to be edgy or controversial. It is not meant to draw attention to any current events. It is capturing a feeling. It is meant to tell a story.
A fellow artist recently explained figure painting in a way that rings very true to me. Figure painting isn't so much a choice as it is an animalistic compulsion. I paint figures because I need to, like I need to breathe or rest. Figure painting challenges me and satisfies me.
What artists and others have influenced you?
I grew up in a town of artists. I was always moved by the work of local artists Catherine J Manning, Diane Larouche Ellard, and Carol Wylie. My art is actually still strongly inspired and guided by Carol Wylie. What Carol does with colour is amazing to me.
I am also continuously inspired by my mother-in-law Cindy Hoppe, a fibre artist, and the work of her mother, Myrna Harris. Cindy is always redefining her art, pushing her talent and evolving. Cindy is mentoring me and helping me to expand my view.
People are prominent subjects in your paintings, are they usually friends and family? And what comes first, the theme/situation or the individual?
The subjects of my paintings are always someone I know, unless it’s a commission piece. I feel very strange about going up to a stranger and asking if I could paint them. It just doesn't work out very well. I feel a personal connection with every person I paint. I like knowing their individual story and how they fit into the environment I create for them. It adds layers to the piece and inspires the title.
As for what comes first, the theme/situation or the individual, it’s really hard to say. It is different for each and every painting. Some paintings are based on a photograph that I just quickly shot. They are really just a spontaneous moment captured and rendered in paint. Other paintings are staged to create a concept I’ve dreamed up. I usually have the location in mind before I find a model who will bring it to life. My photography sessions with my models are kept loose and fun so I can get genuine feeling from them as well as spontaneous moments that translate well as a painting.
What have you found to be the best and the worst parts of being an artist?
I paint for myself first and foremost. With that in mind it’s hard to be disappointed as an artist. I am in a constant state of personal artistic growth and I am satisfied every time I “bend my brain” and have a breakthrough artistically. I suppose the problem I am having right now as an artist is space and time. I am a mother of two girls and as any mother knows, that is a full time job all on its own. Most of my immediate family live in Biggar. My husband and my parents are the most amazing support system I could possibly have and they free up my time to paint as well as to travel for my craft. At the moment I am painting in a tiny corner of my basement. Finding an ideal space, especially in a small community, can be a challenge. I am currently building a studio and am hoping to start classes for the students in my community next fall.
What are your own expectations for your work and your career: your goals and your ideas of what lies ahead?
I have a really hard time answering this question in any concrete sort of way. I try to relax and let my art go where it will. I will always strive to grow as an artist. I am never truly satisfied. I was told once that when you know everything about your craft you are done as an artist. Being a artist to me is to continuously challenge yourself, have your art criticized and grow from it, try new things with mediums and subjects, and have fun with it. I love that others are enjoying what I do. I love that others can see what I am seeing within each and every one of my paintings. If I can continue to bring a smile to others through my art, I will never be disappointed.
- Born: 1985. Saskatoon, SK
- Resides: Biggar, SK
- Genre: Abstract, Landscape, Portrait
- Mediums: Acrylic, Oil Painting