Michele Byrne is recognized for her figurative plein air work and in recent years for her dynamic palette knife paintings. She lives and works in Reading, Pennsylvania. However, she travels extensively, painting in Manhattan, Paris, California, Colorado and Key West, Florida.
“I prefer to paint outdoors directly on site. I feel that it is the best way to capture the immediacy of the moment. It allows me to immerse myself in the subject. I am not the typical plein air landscape painter in that I enjoy capturing social situations and views of the urban landscape. Whether standing next to a busy café, an isolated beach or inside a jazz club, I know that it is not just the visual information that becomes a part of the painting. The sounds, the smells, the mood and the environment all become integral to the finished image. My plein air paintings are meant to be mirrors of our lives. There is something magical and mystical about standing with your feet firmly planted on the earth, absorbing all the sounds, smells and conversations as well as the visual information and letting it all flow out onto the canvas. I become a part of the scene and the paintings seem to flow out of me.”
Byrne has won numerous awards in her plein air and studio work including most recently an Award of Excellence with the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters in 2016. Painting in plein air is not just a passion for Michele it is a dedication. The artist must make decisions about time of day, direction of light and inclusion of figures despite that in front of you everything is changing. The decisions allow the artist to paint dynamically with light and air as a part of the final image.
“Painting plein air allows me to create a more fluid diary of the ever-changing activity of a café or street scene or beach scene.”