In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us a behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we look at Michael’s eye-catching style within his ceramic buddha figures…
More than Abstract Paintings
Michael Colpitts creates magnificent works in a variety of mediums, ranging from mixed media paintings to abstract enclosed and figurative ceramic sculptures. It is through his wide variety of skills that he is able to transmit qualities from one medium to another. The most prominent example of this is the translation of style and texture from his mixed media paintings into his ceramic pieces. “I want the viewer to feel the same sense of emotions and movement within my paintings as in my sculptures” he says. Working in figurative and abstract forms, he has especially created this translation of reactions within an ever-adapting style of buddha figures.
Depicting Human Form
Michael worked to expand his skills by broadening his style from abstract forms to encompass the human figure. He commented that “I experienced a sort of enlightenment while traveling and the buddha is one figure that captured many of those same emotions I felt.” So he began to experiment with this figure. It started by changing how the buddha figure was structured within the folds of clay which still resembled his abstract textures within his paintings. These folds are what he used to skillfully structured the artwork to create a un-interrupted flow from head to base. Starting with his first piece “Buddha” and thereafter with his piece “Female Buddha,” this alteration in technique helped launch his “new ways of expressing.”
Remodeling the Buddha
After working with his first version “Buddha,” Michael began the second version with different techniques in mind. “The first big difference was the shape of the body within the robes that surrounded the figure,” he explains. “I wanted to explore new ways to create fabric and show the folds in the robe.” He also alternated its form by creating a cone-shaped base instead of the original free-formed body. “I think it creates a calming aesthetic shape to the figure.” This shift in structure added to the visual aesthetics by creating a direction for the viewer’s eyes to travel. This change also created a soothing flow from the base of his piece into the podium. “Female Buddha” also was designed with a rotating platform. “I wanted people to be able to see all these visual effects in the texture and structure no matter where the piece was placed.”
From the base of the piece onto the upper body of his “Female Buddha,” Michael altered the artistic form of her shoulders. Whereas in his first version he hid the body within the robes to create the unanimous feeling, he instead defined the waist and shoulders of the figure. “I felt that the lack of bodily structure created tension where I didn’t want there to be. The continuation of the robes’ textures helped create that poised posture.” He added more details to the top such as a collar in the robe to show her neck and create a visual line from the robes up into the face. “In this version, I still chose not to add any visible arms or legs because I wanted the focus to be on her face and posture. This is what captures the emotions, you know?” These alterations helped modify the abstract version just enough to make this figure distinguishable from Michael’s past piece, while creating more serene qualities to his work.
The finishing section of his work was in the face. Of his latest version, “Female Buddha,” Michael says, “I personified the figure by adding facial expressions to match the Buddha essence. I wanted to show my take on the meditation within the buddha.” By intentionally leaving her eyes closed, Michael hoped “the viewer could get information just from the feelings she expressed. That peaceful smile is what makes a visual connection when you’re looking at it. I think it resonates with the viewer as a kind of serene moment, because it focuses on an internal presence. It’s really beautiful.”
More to Come!
You can see Michael’s powerful Buddha figures, as well as work from all our resident artists, at Creative Gateways Open Studio and Gallery, open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm. And don’t forget to visit our sister gallery Kuivato in Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, open daily starting at 9am!