Duluth woman ‘spreads the happiness’ with her paintingsWhile her three children were still young, Duluthian Michelle Wegler spent much of her spare time doing loads and loads of laundry each day. Eventually, she discovered that the few minutes between loads could be used to do some painting.
While her three children were still young, Duluthian Michelle Wegler spent much of her spare time doing loads and loads of laundry each day. Eventually, she discovered that the few minutes between loads could be used to do some painting.
So, Wegler set up an easel and a still life in her basement next to the washing machine where she applied a few stokes of color whenever she had a minute to spare. It was in this dark basement that Wegler bettered her skills and grew into an artist.
“It really just satisfied my need to paint, and I learned a lot,” Wegler said about her early days as an artist. “The pastels worked best because I could have everything all set up and would not have to wait for it to dry.”
These days, Wegler has moved out of her basement and into her very own studio on Superior Street, where she works on her latest projects. Before the opening of her current studio nearly a year ago, Wegler shared studio space in a Canal Park building for seven years.
“I tried to continue working at home, but I got distracted by the laundry, mail, and computer,” Wegler said. “When I come here, there is nothing else to do but paint, so I produce much more work having a studio.”
It is in this studio that Wegler showcases both portrait and landscape paintings that she creates with pastels. Wegler said she uses pastels as her primary medium because there is no mixing involved, and the quick drying time allows more time to get involved with the piece itself.
“I like to garden, and to me it’s like gardening because you get your hands dirty,” Wegler said. “I like that touching and being able to use my fingers.”
The wide variety of color options available with pastels allows Wegler to use different color schemes for each piece. For landscape paintings that are done on location, Wegler uses a lot of greens and blues.
“She makes really neat skies where the clouds pop out at you,” said Susan Bolos, owner of Just for the Season Gallery in Duluth, an art gallery that sells some of Wegler’s work. “Her paintings really make you feel good, especially if you like the outdoors and can envision yourself walking down that trail or standing under those trees.”
For Wegler, it is all about making the scene look appealing once the painting has been removed from location.
“I try to paint things that are around people everyday that they may not notice,” she said. “I’ll work out different sketches, deciding which section would work best and if the trees could be moved a little bit to give it some more variety. Everything, everywhere is a potential subject.”
Creating a memorable scene may take Wegler anywhere from three hours to a month, and capturing the beauty of each season sometimes means braving below-zero temperatures. Yet, it is all worth it for Wegler when she sees people’s reactions to her work.
“I like the results and to have people respond to them when they’re finished,” Wegler said. “When someone notices something that really moves them, I really enjoy that.”
When it comes to portraits, Wegler often uses photographs of the individual to create a painting. It is in her studio that she is able to do most of her portrait work, along with polishing up some of her bigger outdoor paintings.
With a variety of paper sizes and color options, Wegler does portraits of people and pets. Typically, she works from darker colors to lighter colors when creating a portrait painting in order to make even skin tones.
Wegler’s paintings are sold at Just for the Season Gallery in Duluth and at galleries in Zumbrota, Minn. and Calumet, Mich. The many art galleries that she is a part of also hold exhibits where she sells her pieces.
Yet, it was much earlier that Wegler began to make money off her art, and she jokes that she made her first commission in second grade while coloring in chalk on the chalkboard.
“I’ve always liked art, and I dabbled in it ever since I was a kid,” Wegler said. “I paint because I like it, but I also add the fact of trying to make the customer happy. My intention is for people to take them home so I can spread the happiness.”
Wegler continues to learn more about her medium, as she took art classes at the University of Minnesota Duluth and currently is taking instructional classes from other artists.
When not involved in her painting, Wegler enjoys gardening, knitting, being outside, and spending time with her husband Greg, and children Katie, Mary, and Karl. Wegler also works part-time as an occupational therapist, but she makes sure to find time for her love of painting.
“Michelle does beautiful work, and her paintings make you feel good,” Bolos said. “She puts her soul into her work.”
To view some of Wegler’s work, visit her website at www.michelle weglerart.blogspot.com. Just for the Season Gallery in Duluth sells a variety of sizes and styles of Wegler’s paintings, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.