On August 23, 2023

Rockin’ the Region with Alice Michele

 

Usually for this article I interview musical artists, but I’m pleased to say this week I interviewed an actual artist. This article is about local Bridgewater artist Alice Michele. She is native to Quechee but currently calls Bridgewater home. You can find her on Instagram @alicemichele.art or if you want to reach out and have something painted or join one of her classes, email her alicemichele.art@gmail.com.

Alice Michele had been doing pop-up art shows, mixed with live music at Mon Vert in Woodstock on the last Wednesday of the month but they’re taking a break until after fall foliage. 

She said, “I want to continue doing events like that. It was fun.” 

Last year she did these at a couple different places. The artists are younger locals who may not be that successful yet, and local musicians like Nick Bredice, who played the past few months.

Michele  added, “It was a mixed bag of people that I knew, people that I didn’t know. It was cool, we had photography, sculpture, a youth one back in May. It kind of formed into a playground space for younger artists.”

This coming winter, Michele  might go back to doing this at multiple venues. 

Her brother, Will Sterling, is also an artist and she said, “My brother has stepped up and has been helping me run it. I might have him run one and I have another friend who has been helping a ton with the set-up and getting venues so I may expand this into something that’s happening a little more. It’s in its second year, still the formation stage but I really like the energy and the art that’s come from it.” 

Find Sterling on Instagram @wlsterling.

Michele really liked the youth night and hopes to do another. She said, “Showing someone your sketchbook for the first time is nerve-wracking. It was cool to see the kids open their art books and show everyone. We told them they didn’t have to, we made it a comfortable space. It was cool to see them get excited talking to local artists and random people about their artwork and get compliments and gain confidence from that.”

She comes from an artistic family. Her aunt’s a potter, mom a painter and her dad owned a screen-printing shop in Quechee for most of her childhood. After school she would go to the shop and tinker around. She said, “I was encouraged to do it as a fun, playtime thing. I don’t think anyone ever intended for me to do this as a job, including myself.”

In high school, she started drawing portraits that caught people’s attention. She said, “It was then I realized that maybe I’m better than average at this, maybe I’m talented and should pursue this?” She moved to North Carolina, mid-high school, which was a major change. She said her graduating class was bigger than all of Hartford High. Alice continued with art there. Her art teacher there constantly tried to get her to enter contests, but she was nervous, so her teacher took one of her watercolor portraits and submitted it to the North Carolina Women’s Council. Alice said, “I won 2nd place, which was cool. I was only 16.” 

Her family convinced her to go to college. She said, “I was encouraged by my very well-intentioned family to not make art my job and go to college instead. I didn’t necessarily agree with them, I wanted to travel and take a gap year, but they convinced me to try the college thing. My second love after artwork is psychology, which is the only other subject in high school I did well in.”

Michele did two years of college and then left to become a tattoo artist (which in my opinion is definitely an art). I asked if it’s harder to draw a tattoo than a portrait. She said, “I didn’t think so, it’s just a different medium and of course you’re working with people, sharp things, and blood so you have to take extra care that way.” 

Michele has designed all the tattoos on her body and done a few of them. She said, “My mentor said the first person you’re going to tattoo is yourself, so you’ll know if you’re doing it wrong. ‘You have to feel how you feel before you put it on someone else,’ was his rule. I started with my foot and went up my leg. For the most part you don’t think about the pain because you’re focusing on the design.”

After a few years of that, she missed Vermont and moved back here in 2016. Art was still on her mind but not as a career. She worked odd jobs, waitressing, etc. It wasn’t until Covid hit that she turned art into a career. As most of us were stuck at home, she used the time to hone her craft. 

She said, “I sat outside for most of it to mellow my head. I spent two months painting clouds. I still paint clouds; they’ve always been a thing for me.” 

She thought maybe now she could treat this as a job. Besides clouds, portrait painting is her bread and butter, but she’s also painted nude drawings. She said, “Definitely drawn a good bit of naked bodies. They’re beautiful.”

Her favorite artist is Van Gogh. She said, “Looking at the way he used color in motion in all his paintings, I feel there was a lot of feeling there and I like that. He was able to create something so profound. I think most artists when they’re down, they reach for their paintbrush, guitar, camera or whatever you’re trying to express these feelings with.” 

We discussed our liking of Bob Ross. She said, “Bob is great. I think watching him is fun. His positive just go with it attitude is something we should all be a little more in tune with.”

Michele is currently on a cross-country road trip. She said, “I love Vermont, it’s lovely, but it’s small. I want to go elsewhere to soak up other things. I think it’s extremely important to see as much as you can. That’s a step closer to understanding more and that’s a step closer to being just a good person, in general.”

This winter she plans on teaching again because she really enjoys it. She said, “I learn almost just as much from teaching other people as they might learn from me.”

Michele loves this artistic life she’s made for herself. She said, “I feel I get such a connection to myself and to the world. When you get in that zone and you’re putting the right color, in the right spot, on the right canvas and you feel it. That’s a way for me to understand the world. There’s a lot of meditation behind that, like a Zen state for me. It’s important to have a good balance between letting whatever is going to come out of you, come out versus trying to force it. I think there’s something in all of us. You just have to do. I feel good when I’m doing.”

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