Having found his passion as a watercolorist, Michael Ireland didn’t want to switch media when he felt called to work larger. Working on archival board allows him to create watercolors on a grand scale, enveloping viewers in washes of light and color. The delicate simplicity of his landscapes evokes serenity and resilience—one reason why so many healthcare providers have commissioned Ireland’s work.
Tell us about one of your favorite commissions.
One of my favorite projects is Moment of Grace, which I completed and installed in the lobby of a Wisconsin hospital this past March. At 22′ wide by 4′ high, it’s my largest piece to date. The image itself is fairly simple: a ripple in a pond, backed by a shoreline of prairie reeds. But it’s not so much the size as it is the painting itself. Many artists describe that “magic moment” when conscious thought leaves the process and something more transcendental takes over. Moment of Grace brought me more of those moments than any other in recent past.
What do you love best about the medium you work in?
I have been working in transparent watercolor for over forty years now, and it never ceases to amaze and delight me. No other medium gives you the textures, the transitions, and the sense of wonder that you get from working in watercolor. Many artists refer to watercolor as one of the most difficult mediums to work in, but I see it quite differently. It’s quite simple, really. Perhaps that is the most difficult concept to embrace.
What strategy or practice helps you run your art business efficiently?
Professionalism. The first and foremost thing to remember is that you actually are running a business. That said, every business needs clients and every client needs to feel like they are your only client. There’s a good chance they are already feeling the pressure of the commission project ten-fold. It’s my job to not only deliver a beautiful piece of work, but to make the whole process as seamless as possible for both my client and myself. Also, continuing to grow as an artist. Recently I’ve been taking my work out of the 2D realm and looking at it more sculpturally. So far, the response has been encouraging.
Michael will be exhibiting his work in solo show May 20-July 29, 2013, at The State Street Gallery, Robert Morris University, Chicago, IL. Opening reception: May 30, 5-8 pm.