Micheal Madigan is a Hamilton-based painter. I have admired his wonderfully colorful acrylic paintings for a long time. He recently sat down over a glass of shrub, on a hot day, to tell me where his work comes from, the method and then a peek into his studio. Shrub is a drink made from concentrated syrups mixed in tasty combinations. Can these recipes be relatable to Madigan’s paintings? You tell me.
What are you communicating to the viewer with your art?
I am actually not communicating. I am trying to evoke conversation from the viewer. My current work has its origins in my memories from travels and specific places.
What media and support do you use and why?
The acrylic paintings are made on panels, which are plywood mounted on a more rigid frame. I do a lot of subtracting or removing of layers of paint with sandpaper and other tools. Using panels allows me to remove layers of paint with much vigor.
Is your work is based on places or memories or both?
Both. I paint layers of memories from places to which I have travelled. The colors and shapes are reminders of specific places, like the old city part of Barcelona, for example, from which I relate certain colors and patterns.
What is your process?
From my research trips to Europe and North America, I take many photos. Photos not of specific landmarks or scenery, but of the whole scope of what I am seeing. From these photos, I will filter down to a handful that depict my experience. These photo memories will be the basic layers of memories that make it to the single painting. I will choose whether the painting will have a warm or cool tone to it and begin. A trip to Ireland in 1997 changed my outlook. My work had been totally abstract and non-objective before but now these ancient sites really drew my attention and my need to portray them.
Do you work on your art every day?
I am a full-time painter. This is what I do. I’m a lucky guy. We live modestly, but I paint full-time. I start around 8, paint for a few hours, take a break and have lunch. Then I paint for a few hours more, wrapping up around 4. Then I like to make dinner for my wife Elaine and me.
Are you drawn to certain shapes or patterns?
The colors and shapes I use are memory prompts for me. I am drawn to ancient places. I like to see where life and civilizations came from and which direction they took afterward. Some of my favorite places are the Northwest U.S., France, Italy, Ireland and, best of all, Spain.
Locally, where do you like to eat?
We like Mama Rosa’s, Spigola to celebrate a painting sale, Brothers on Route 33 and Golden Dawn. Tir Na Nog is good place for live music.
What fight/struggle do you have regarding your art?
One word here: storage. I paint on the large side and live in a modest home and studio. Thank goodness many paintings are in galleries or collected.
Is this area supportive of the arts?
This area is excellent. By area, I mean from New York to D.C. and out to Pittsburgh. This region is very supportive of the arts or else I could not do what I do.
What is on the horizon?
I will travel for research to the Pacific Northwest soon, to study the history and culture. Many ancient cultures lived where the land and sea come together. After this, I will continue the body of work based on these places.
For more information, go online to michealmadigan.com.