Michael Hale – Painter
Born in the Northwest, Michael Hale has been at his art since the time he could hold a pencil and later a brush. Majoring in his second love of architecture he attended Washington State University where he minored in fine art. Not liking the ridged conformities of architecture, he switched to a commercial art program at the Burnley School of Professional Art in Seattle. After a three-year diversion in the U.S. Army during the Viet Nam War he went back to school at The Museum Art School in Portland, Oregon where he resumed his studies in commercial and fine art.
Taking his six years of art education, he did what many artist do…he started pounding nails as a carpenter. “My father had taught me the trade as I was growing up,” he says. “At least it gave me a good trade and it paid well.”
During his days of building, he honed his art by painting landscapes, real and imagined as well as portraits of his carpenter co-workers and the clients whose homes he was building. Taking his knowledge of building and marrying it with his architectural training and his skill of art, Hale started an architectural rendering business, first in the Northwest and then in the Phoenix area.
Although doing a full time business of drawing homes and teaching art at The Phoenix Institute of Technology, Hale still pursued his painting, much of it in the southwestern style. “Lots of boulders, desert and cacti, with a cowboy, Indian or horse thrown in,” he says. “I loved the light of the Southwest. The desert surroundings taught me much about light and color.”
Moving to Los Angeles in the early 90’s Hale became a scenic artist for various movie and scenic production studios working on everything from movie sets to stage drops to cruse ship productions. For one job he was sent to Moscow, Russia to install backgrounds he had designed for a major business conference. “Working in LA taught me how to really mix colors and to put it down on the canvas very, very fast. Though now, I prefer to take my time.” Through all of this he continued to paint, showing and selling to galleries in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Glendale and Valencia.
Influenced by Maxfield Parrish and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Hale geared much of his work towards fantasy landscapes incorporating figures, often nude and incorporating imposing architectural elements.
That is until he moved to Port Townsend in 2000. “There was just too much of everything to paint here: the water, the mountains, the boats and yes, that grand old architectural element of buildings…beautiful, red-bricked buildings.” And ever since, that’s the subject he’s painted the most of, a close second being the masts and the sails of wooden boats moored at Port Townsend harbors.