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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Baker, MA

A student's perspective: The magic at MBodied

There’s something magical in Michelle’s studio. Some combination of Michelle’s true passion for her art – her actual paintings and, more loosely, her art of shepherding students through learning about painting and themselves – the good conversations in the studio, the freedom to create and learn and make mistakes, and something…magical.

I found out about MBodied Art Studio because I wanted to relearn about the art techniques I so loved in high school and then forgot about in college and after. I am a creative writer, but I wanted to explore another form of creativity, something tangible in a different way than pen to paper or typing out a story. And, since my usual colors as a writer are just black or blue ink, I couldn’t wait to start playing with the rest of the color wheel.

I joined the Introduction to Acrylics class with Michelle and from the first class, I was learning good techniques about painting and getting to practice on canvas. Starting to paint on canvas from class one helps to mollify that fear of the blank canvas. I think it’s hard for a lot of us adults to remember that it’s okay to make mistakes because you can learn from them – practicing this through practicing painting is a great way to think differently about what could be possible in your life.

And from the first class, seeing how Michelle exudes appreciation for her students and faith in them – both in and outside the studio – I started listening to her painting instructions on a philosophical level, too. She taught that in paintings, there needs to be darkest darks to bring out the lightest lights. Both are integral parts of a good painting composition, and a picture looks washed out without deep, dark colors.

How can I see this in my own life? She taught that different colors play differently with each other; yellow, for instance, is a weaker color and overpowered by reds and blues. But if you want to outline shapes on your canvas before you start painting, using a watered-down yellow lets you plot out your painting, and when you’ve painted over it, the outline does not show through. That’s yellow’s secret power.

Michelle’s studio is a haven for the senses. The studio is beautiful. The tea shelf is always stocked. You can talk to your fellow painters about paintings and life, or just enjoy the companionable silence. And the tangible feelings of mixing your colors with a palette knife or brushing the colors on the canvas – you truly feel in your hands that you are creating something.

It’s magical.

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