Meet Mike Shisler


JULY 11, 2022

Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Mike Shisler. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.

Alright, Mike thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?

Like most children, I enjoyed drawing throughout my childhood but never got much instruction beyond required art classes in school. However, I remember at an early age unlocking the “secret” of perspective drawing. The concept of drawing to a vanishing point, or multiple vanishing points, made my drawings come to life. Looking back, this likely lead me to pursue architecture in high school and college. And it was in college, during a semester abroad in Rome, Italy that I was first introduced to observational drawing or “urbansketching”. This was, by far, one of my favorite classes in which the professor would announce where we were scheduled to meet the next morning. We would all show up with our sketchbooks and a few drawing supplies while we spread out, sitting on benches, curbs or just on the ground to draw what we saw. Receiving inspiration from some of the greatest Renaissance artists and architects, our teacher would occasionally lean over our shoulder to offer some insight or discreetly question an artistic decision we were making. At the end of the semester, I came away with a sketchbook and an experience in “plein air” painting that would become my true passion ten years later.But ultimately, the “artistic skill” that I use today was mostly self taught. My artistic education was focused more on visualizing and creating the built form in the physical world. My ability to draw a line, create depth in a drawing, or mix color on a page came through nearly 10 years of daily and personal practice.

Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers

 There is rarely a hike or bike ride in which I am not carrying my sketchbook and set aside some time to create a painting. This, combined with living “the vanlife” for several years means that I have traveled to thousands of unique and beautiful locations to create art. Taking this to the extreme, I am most proud of the works I have created while on epic cross-country bike trips. In 2020, I bicycled from New Jersey to California while documenting the entire trip through ink and watercolor paintings. In 2022, I biked from Alaska to California and again, made time to create one or two paintings each day. These works, along with photographs and some short essays will be compiled into a book to be published in 2023.

What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?

For me, the most rewarding aspect of being an artist is that my art is also a personal record of my life and the places I go. I began keeping a sketchbook on my 30th birthday with the goal of creating one sketch per day for the next 30 years. So far, I have a bookshelf half full of sketchbooks that will ultimately tell my life story and be an invaluable way to look back.Additionally, creating plein air paintings and observational sketches means that I often seek out places that will make for a better painting. It drives me to explore more and look for unique places that could otherwise be overlooked. My art is inspired by life and my life is inspired by making art.

What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?

The goal of my art has always been to capture a moment in time and put it down on paper. The very first drawing I did in 2013 was on the street that I lived in Baltimore, Maryland. At the end of the block were some old carriage houses that were built in the early 20th century to house horses and carriages before cars dominated the city. I knew this low row of defunct buildings were slated to be torn down, making way for new 4 story townhomes to be built. I was inspired to draw these buildings as they stood in that moment, worn and half crumbling, knowing that they would not always be there. I view much of my art in this way. I draw everything in the moment, capturing the light at that specific time of day and illustrating the clouds in that moment.I create all of my work on location and in real time. I am drawn to inspiring places and all of my work is “Drawn There”.

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