By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Most of Michelle Morine’s paintings have a story behind them, but she usually doesn’t tell them.
“I want the viewer to see something meaningful and personal behind it,” she said. “I want them to see their own story.”
Morine’s family moved to Lester Prairie when she was in eighth grade. Although she now lives in Chaska, Morine still has ties to the community through her father (Mick), sister (Cheryl Weaver) and brother-in-law (Joe Weaver). Morine’s other sister, Diane Kusske, also lives nearby, in Silver Lake.
Morine always enjoyed drawing and sketching as a child, but didn’t pursue a career in art after high school. Instead, she joined the Air Force, and took classes in German and math.
“I was stationed in Texas, Germany, and Washington, DC,” she said.
From Germany, she traveled to France and toured the Louvre museum, admiring the work of famous artists.
When she got out of the Air Force, Morine took multimedia design classes, and later began studying acrylic painting techniques with Sara Lee Hanlon, owner and resident artist of Mill House Gallery & Gifts in Chaska.
Although Morine was “kind of intimidated” by painting at first, she grew increasingly comfortable the more she practiced.
“My paintings have developed, and they’ve also become a little more surreal and fantasy-based,” she said.
Morine has been a full-time artist since 2005, and her work was recently featured at Stevens Square Center for the Arts in Minneapolis.
She has also exhibited at the Mounds Theatre in St. Paul, Dunn Brothers Coffee House in Chaska, and the Chaska River City Days art fair, and she’s received several awards at the Veterans Administrations Creative Arts Festival.
Morine writes poetry as well, which has been published in a national magazine called Veterans Voices.
Morine’s dreamlike images range from a ballerina dancing in the clouds to a chess piece holding an umbrella. When people look at her paintings, she hopes they’ll be encouraged to become more imaginative.
“I’m inspired by everyday life,” she said. “It could be something someone says, or something I see. It’ll trigger something in my mind, and I’ll see a full painting, completely done.”
Normally, Morine does a sketch before picking up her paintbrush.
“Except this last one,” she said. “I just went to the canvas and started painting.”
She describes the painting in progress as a woman with black wings, surrounded by flying crows. Nearby are two playing cards the ace of hearts (to become human), and the ace of diamonds (to become a crow).
Which card will the woman choose?
“That’s up to the viewer to decide,” Morine said. “Hopefully she becomes human.”
Morine’s prints are for sale on her website, and at Mill House Gallery & Gifts in Chaska. To learn more, go to http://michellelmorine.com/.