Artist Spotlight Michelle Nicole Lowe
BD introduces artist spotlight Michelle Nicole Lowe, from the Florida Keys. Her watercolors capture the tropical essence of paradise.
Q:Where do you live?
A:Islamorada in the Florida Keys.
Q:What is your favorite medium?
A:I work in watercolors as it has always been my favorite.
Q:What are your other hobbies, and are they related to your artwork?
A:I love scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing in the deep sea and fly fishing in the backcountry of Everglades near Islamorada. I have caught tarpon and redfish on fly in the Everglades with Captain Camp Walker of Catalyst Charters, and recently caught my first bonefish on fly in Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos, where my family is from. I am quickly inspired when on or in the ocean, as I’m fascinated with the working parts of each fish or creature I see. Each one has a different personality!
For example, I love seeing hogfish while snorkeling and watching them hide against brain coral, camouflaging themselves in beautiful reds and oranges while eyeing me on the surface to make sure they are unnoticed! I try to portray each creature’s personality in my paintings, hoping to make viewers smile!
Q:How did you get started and what was the evolution of your style?
A:I have always loved painting and the ocean. My family has been in the Bahamas and Florida Keys for generations. My family roots trace back to Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos, where my Great Grandfather, Archie Lowe, was born. He moved to Key West in the early 20th century, where he ran the turtle harvesting business in the Key West Historical Harbor.
I now work with the Turtle Hospital in Marathon and one of my paintings, “Jackie”, was a patient at the hospital that had surgery and is now healthy and roaming the Atlantic!
I truly have the ‘sea in my veins’ and love getting to share it with others through my paintings!
I grew up spending my summers in the Bahamas and Florida Keys, while going to school in North Palm Beach and then Miami. I went off to college at University of Florida for four years, then on to work in corporate finance in Washington DC. After my first two years in a place with seasons- and snow! – I was ready to get back to the ocean, warm air, blue skies and palm trees!
I went to school for art in Florence, Italy for one year and then moved to Islamorada to start trying to sell my paintings. In December 2013, I opened my first art gallery in Islamorada and time has flown by since then! I’m loving having my own space to paint, and for visitors see my whole body of work all together.
I tend to make my fish look ‘happy’, which I think reflects my personality. I am usually in a good mood- I’m a pretty laid back and jovial person. I can’t say I ‘try’ to make my paintings happy- it’s just what comes out when I pick up a paintbrush 🙂
Q:What goals do you have for your artwork, what does the future hold?
A:I am pretty happy with the gallery life, I am open Tuesdays thru Saturdays and when I’m not meeting new visitors from all over the world, I’m painting. I use my gallery as a studio as well.
Sundays and Mondays are my days to play or “research”! I try to get out snorkeling, fishing, kayaking… anything if it involves being on the water. The endless amount of water activities is one of the many reasons I love Islamorada.
Q:Is there a message behind your artwork?
A:I try to bring people happiness, or a fun memory of being underwater, through my artwork. I have clients from age three to ninety four; people who live in temperate places or people who live in Arctic weather. I have has clients on six continents, and they can all appreciate my vibrant, warm paintings.
It’s very rewarding knowing my paintings are all over the world, hanging in homes, restaurants, hotels, offices… all making people smile, and remember that time they saw a school of grunts in the Caribbean, or a triggerfish nipped at their fins in Fiji!
Q:What inspires you?
A:The ocean inspires me. Once I see a fish with a personality, or just amazing pattern and color, I can’t wait to research them further and eventually paint them. Last year my mom and I went on a scuba diving trip to the Yasawa Islands in Fiji.
We saw so many beautiful fish; one of my favorites was the juvenile emperor angelfish. They seemed to glow neon blue! Another cool thing about them is how they change completely as they age. The juvenile emperor has many shades of blue with vertical and circular stripes, and as it ages and turns into an adult it has yellow and blue horizontal stripes.
Amazing! When I returned from Fiji, I did two paintings inspired by this great dynamic fish. “Emperor Angelfish” has three juvenile emperors and three adults, and “Queen Angelfish” has two adults and three juveniles.
Q:What has been the hardest aspect of you art?
A:Owning a gallery and making time to paint is definitely a challenge! I’m so thankful to have the support of my family and friends. My mom specifically spends countless hours in the gallery. She loves meeting customers and hearing their stories, but is also willing to count prints and do inventory for me when I need tedious things like that done! I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from both of my parents; I couldn’t be where I am right now without their love and support.
Thanks to Michelle Nicole Lowe for sharing her world with us.