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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spotlight on Mixed Media Art by Chelle - Paintin’ Divas

If you were fortunate enough to attend the Mississippi Craft Show last month, you would have been treated to the visual delights of Mixed Media Art by Chelle - Paintin’ Divas.  Mississippi Artist Michelle Ray Goolsby is originally from Jackson, Mississippi and now lives in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Michelle is a self taught Mixed Media Artist born into a creative and artistic family, she has been creating art in various forms for as long as she can remember. Michelle employs various mediums and techniques in her work and says that her favorite forms of expression are collage, paper paintings, and torn paper art.

Michelle has enjoyed painting on and off for many years, but after loosing her best friend to breast cancer, she re-dedicated herself to painting, and the sale of her art, in honor of the memory of her friend. Michelle often honors her friend in her work visually by the inclusion of wings, butterflies, birds, best friend sayings, and the like.

As is the nature of mixed media, Michelle works with a wide variety of mediums and enjoys the freedom it affords her to express herself. Michelle's work is created with a range of color schemes. Some of her pieces are Earth toned, yet many are vibrant and playful combinations with a sense of whimsy. Michelle's work is often layered, using different techniques applied in a step by step process and as a result, her work can take many hours to complete. It is this layering that gives her work depth and allows you to see something different each time you look at a piece of her art.

I asked Michelle some questions in order to get to know her and her artistic motivation a little better. First off I asked her when did she first discover her creative talents?

Michelle: I have been creating, designing, crafting, sewing, wood-working, and painting for as long as I can remember.

Question: Have you studied art or design or are you self taught?
Michelle: I am self taught.

Question: Could you tell us about some of your work?
Michelle: I sketch out a design on birch board after building a cradle for the wood followed by a clear coat of gesso. I paint, stain, stamp and draw on rice papers, mulberry papers, artist papers, handmade papers, old books, Bible pages, found and purchased papers with artist acrylics, watercolors, dyes and inks. Once all this is created, the real fun begins! I meticulously hand tear each piece then apply to design with acrylic gel medium. Occasionally, I cut the tiny piece but prefer for tear the paper so the design is more natural. This is a very time consuming process in which I love every minute of it. The papers are layers from the background to the foreground on my paper paintings.

Question: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?
Michelle: I am self motivated and feel relaxed and at peace while painting and creating. My mind never stops creating. All art inspires me –whether it’s Gustav Klimt or simple art from a child. A child’s simple, imaginative, and enthusiastic approach to art is the type of art that inspires me most. What keeps me going? I have always created in one form or another from time to time while raising 2 wonderful boys but after losing my best friend of 23 years to breast cancer, I picked up my brush once again and expressed my grief in the form of art and have not put it down since. Everyone that knew her loved her. She made me laugh and encouraged me often. I only created for my family and friends but she thought I should let others see my art and have a chance to purchase it and enjoy it in their home. I never had a desire to sale my art – it wasn’t about the money to me. But the purchases do help me create more art. Her words and her memory keep me creating. I love to create art and put reminders and memories of her on canvas.

Question: How would you describe your style?
Michelle: I’m all over the board with styles of art but I’m naturally drawn to earth tones and the distressed antique look but enjoy getting out of my box and painting with bright, vibrant colors from time to time. I love so many different styles and types of art so it is hard for me to limit myself to creating just one style. However, paper paintings – collage – are my favorite form of expression. It’s the most fun! But days when I am more serious, abstracts with different mediums is what I choose to create.

Question: What is your preferred medium and why?
Michelle: Preferred medium? That’s a tough question for me to answer since I work with so many different mediums and love all of them but I work primarily with acrylics on cradled artist panels/birch wood that I construct myself. Why? With acrylics, I can layer and layer and layer not have to wait days in between layers as with oils. Working in Mixed Media gives me a vast license to express myself unreservedly.

Question: What is your approach to design?
Michelle: My mind is constantly creating. It never shuts off. I have an innate desire to create. I find it irresistible! I believe that God designed me to create. So my approach is simple; it is to take what He has given me and do my best to portray it through art and to serve others in the process.

Question: Any influences or anyone you look up to when it comes to designing?
Michelle: I’ve always looked up to both my brothers. My oldest brother, Mike, created art in his younger years but as he got older discovered other interests that set precedence over the art (hunting, fishing, and etc.). I have several of his pieces hanging in my house that he created when he was 12 and 13 years of age. We lost him in a car accident when I was only 14. 

My other brother, Chris, is an amazing artist. His work looks more like a photograph than a painting. His work keeps my eyes glued to the pieces he creates. Chris is a man of many talents. Anything he decides to do, he does with perfection. I admire their work the most of all over other famous artist but then again I may be slightly swayed since they are family. 

My grandfather also inspired me to work with wood. He was a carpenter and very creative. I remember working in his shop with him behind his house. Instead of taking home-economics in school, I took shop and agriculture. I wanted to work with wood not cook and still prefer that to this day. If truth be known, my husband and kids don’t want me in the kitchen either.

Question: Share with us something funny that has happened to you recently.
Michelle: While at the MS Craft Show, my cousin who lives in Jackson was supposed to meet me out there. He sends me a text saying that he was there and he could see me and for me to look to my left. In which I replied -, “I don’t see anyone over 5’9”” (My cousin is about 6’7’’). His reply, “I’m sitting down”. So I looked for several minutes feeling foolish because I couldn’t find him until I received another text from him stating that he was just now pulling in the parking lot. He had me looking for several minutes. We laughed together because he could just imagine me looking and looking down the aisle. I’m so gullible!

Question: How do you bridge the gap of the business side of designing?
Michelle: When I finally decided to sale my art so others could enjoy, I created a web site (which is in need of an update), a Facebook page, and rented a booth at a consignment boutique locally. I have just recently begun showing my art at art and craft shows and festivals which I now know is a great tool. I discovered that this is where store owners and gallery owners come to find the talent they are looking for. I have met some wonderful people in the process.

Question: Do you have a favorite subject or series of work?
Michelle: Favorite subject or series? Not a favorite subject per se but with paper paintings I can incorporate reminders of the people in my life as well as God’s Word. I’m a preacher’s kid so I have lots of Bibles that have been used greatly to the extent they are falling apart so I tear out scriptures and use in most of my collages/paper paintings. I normally work in 3s with my abstracts and paper paintings as well. I use the 3 drips on paper paintings and 3 circles or drips in abstracts that represent the Trinity. I encourage people to look and linger to see what they will find. I put a great deal of thought in each piece of art I create.

Question: Describe yourself in 5 words.
Michelle: Christian, Creative, Loyal, Peaceful, Diligent - Southerner (Mississippi Girl)

Question: Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring designers/artists?
Michelle: Keep yourself encouraged by doing what you love whether it’s full time or part time. Not everyone will love your work as much as you do but don’t let that discourage you. Be you. Be who God created you to be. Experiment with your style but love what you do in the process. Don’t limit your creativity or God. He can open doors that you never dreamed would ever be opened. I know that to be true! He continues to amaze me! Create art for others to enjoy!

As well as offering her work for sale, Michelle also offers paint parties for adults and children in her home in Tupelo, Mississippi, she will even travel to your location. Michelle will guide you step by step in painting your very own masterpiece. No artistic ability is required or previous art training required! Michelle does however, recommend you wear your paint clothes! Michelle also offers workshops on collage and paper painting.

Click on the link below to view a video of some of Michelle's wonderful work.

Having had the pleasure of meeting Michelle I suggest you take any opportunity you may have to take a look at her work, and where possible, to meet her in person yourself. She is sure to give you a warm welcome and a genuine and happy smile - two things about Michelle which I believe shine through into the layers of her wonderful paintings.

You can find out more by contacting Michelle or connecting with her online:

Mixed Media Art by Chelle - Paintin’ Divas
Telephone: 662.401.6407

Until next time,


Nice work! It's so nice she has art from her brother. So sad they lost him at such a young age.

I would never have known about all the layering, it's very interesting. I love the colors she uses in her work. Very nice combinations. For all the loss she has suffered I'm almost surprised to see such an abundance of joy in her work. Very nice indeed. Loved the post. Thanks!

Great article. I love the video. So nice the artist honors her friend in her work.

Great interview. Interesting questions. I'm too far away to visit the artist, but the photos look lovely!


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