“What appeals to me are the super bright colors – what the eye doesn’t actually see,” says artist Mickey La Fave. “Color is my whole thing. I couldn’t use brown to save my life. ”
La Fave’s paintings use vivid colors to accentuate her subjects. Use hydrus watercolors that come in a glass bottle because they are more saturated with color and more vivid.
Her specialty is portraits of pets in watercolor.
“Painting pets and other animals is the most passionate thing for me. I love animals because I connect with them. I can tell when they are happy, angry or curious. ”
In addition to watercolors, La Fave creates jewelry and multimedia pieces in her home studio Arvada. She says her style is everywhere on the map, but usually fantastic and mystical.
“I can’t stick to one style, despite advice to stick to one thing. The only thing that is consistent in my style is that nothing is realistic. ”
La Fave grew up on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in Escanaba, near Lake Superior and Canada.
“It’s rural, beautiful and depressing.”
She started doing art when she was 5 years old, and at 6 she won first place at the county fair with her portrayal of Paul Bunyan. In high school, she was inspired and trained by local artist John Gustafson. After studying art at the University of Central Michigan, La Fave left Michigan because there was no work.
“There was no work there except in the paper mill.”
She moved to Houston and worked as an insurance controller and then as an investigator in a fire and fraud unit. She moved to Colorado in 1982.
“I haven’t painted in a long time,” she says. “I was consumed by the fact that I will never be an artist, which I have always wanted.
“What made me paint again was a trip to Santa Fe with friends in 2011. We decided to create original gifts that we will exchange for Christmas. The idea attracted me because I needed a purpose to paint. ”
When she started, she set off at full strength.
“I did plays in tents everywhere. At night I went to classes with watercolorist Janet Nunn. Everything I do, I learned from Nunn, including the use of hydrus watercolor paints. She was influential because she doesn’t deal with realism, only colors. “
La Fave moved to Arvad in 2016. She lives with her two cats, her dog Harley, Sheltie and little parrot Kanani. She retired in 2018 to become a full-time artist.
She said she relies on six spiritual guides to help her in her art.
“I have a team of artistic spiritual guides working through me, including a great companion named Caitlin, an artist who lived in Canada. I had recurring dreams about her three-story house until I realized who she was. She is always there to help me. ”
Another of her spiritual guides is Gustafson, her high school teacher, watercolorist and potter.
I saw him in Michigan in the late 2000s and he asked me, ‘Are you painting?’ It was bad for me to say ‘No’ to him because he inspired me so much. After I started painting again, I went back to tell him, but he died. I was disappointed because I wanted him to know and be proud of me. Now he trains me from the afterlife. Now he knows. Every time I paint, I call my guides and they help me. I imagine them and thank them for their guidance. ”
In addition to animals, La Fave paints scenes of nature, old vehicles and buildings, and several abstracts.
“I like to paint old rusty vehicles because I see so many different colors like turquoise, magenta and yellow. I mix them so they crack, and you get a cool picture. I love old buildings too. I make a dark background, then a strip of paint above the building. There is often a flying witch. ”
La Fave uses watercolor glaze to paint its colorful skies. When glazing, the paints are applied in thin, transparent layers, one by one, leaving each to dry before adding the other layer. Last summer, she offered glass demonstrations at Art on the Farm, a monthly social event in Neighborhood Messenger Wheat Ridge Farm by Guy Nahmiach. (Farm art returns this year – email [email protected] for more information or to participate.)
Her community involvement also includes her work as president of the Arvada Fine Art Guild and as director of the Arvada Art Studio Tour.
La Fave often gets inspiration from photos or other paintings.
“Pictures can talk to me, either my own or my friends.” If something makes me smile, laugh or feel the expression on my face, I want to know the story behind it. ”
One of the inspirations was a photo she took in Europe in which a hunchbacked woman carries a load and many cats follow her.
“I painted her because I wanted to know, what is her story – her struggle? Why did the cats follow her? Did she come from the fish market? I don’t know why, but it filled my heart. ”
La Fave branched out into jewelry and multimedia because she needed a break from painting. She said her other media is also dedicated to color.
“I start with jewelry with semi-precious stones as the centerpiece and find colors that complement the stone to make it stand out.”
For more information, visit mickeylafave.com or email her at [email protected]