Michael French's paintings are internationally recognized by collectors for their unique style of realism, which finds its roots in Hyperrealism. The popularity of Michael’s paintings combined with his dedicated following of collectors have enabled him to support himself as a professional artist for forty years. Michael's relationships with individual collectors can inspire his subject matter as he travels the continent, painting and photographing locales, staying with those patrons that have become close personal friends. A Canadian expatriate who resides in the small Mexican village of San Miguel de Allende, Michael finds inspiration in his local surroundings as well as from his travels.
Reflective light and tranquil waters are familiar elements in Michael’s work as he explores the nuances of illumination and shadow. Working in the studio, Michael deliberately excludes extraneous elements in his compositions in order to distil his vision and to convey his ideal image to the viewer—an emotional state of near-surreal perfection. Mysterious and dreamlike, these mesmerizing scenes entice the viewer into the calm and serene world Michael seeks to portray. He intends his paintings, such as The Wild Coast, to be contemplative. They invite the viewer to scan the landscape in a reflective mood, much as they would walking the actual beach, watching the fog roll up the hill in the morning light.
Early on, Michael French set out to meet the iconic American realist, Andrew Wyeth, which helped to define the artist Michael would become. In 1972, the fledgling painter found Wyeth to be kind and supportive as he sought advice from the master.
Reminiscent of the Flemish Masters, Michael uses thin glazes of colour in oils to achieve the luminous quality of his work. He paints on specially constructed art boards made with acid-free, rag paper—sometimes textured—which are opaque white. Applying pencil to panel, he creates his images from memory and photographs. For the most part, he airbrushes the underpainting in acrylics sometimes using a resist to maintain a crisp edge. Acrylics define details such as waves or blades of grass which don’t require any blending. He finishes his paintings by hand, in oils, which he finds are richer and broader in range. Finally, he completes the weeks-long process by applying a minimum of eight thin layers of museum-quality varnish as a protective coating. Michael’s attention to detail is evident in every aspect of his work: from his careful and deliberate brushwork, to the precise rendering of his subject matter, down to the impeccable presentation in 23½ carat gold leaf frames. While Michael’s soft-spoken personality imparts an easygoing man, underneath lies an artist driven to achieve his vision.
Friend and patron, Christopher Forbes wrote, “His own inner peace is reflected in the tranquility of his landscapes. Rendered with a detailed observation that is almost Pre-Raphaelite, the results nonetheless manifest some of the mystical naiveté of the fantasy junglescapes of Henri Rousseau.”
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall; Hon. Prime Minister Brian and Mila Mulroney; George Bush Presidential Library and Museum; President Felipe Calderón of México; Christopher and Astrid Forbes; Anne Murray, Singer; Scott Beattie, Chairman, President & CEO, Elizabeth Arden, Inc.; William Tatham, Founder, Director & CEO, NexJ Systems Inc.; Jeanne Becker, Host/Segment Producer: "FT-FashionTelevision" & "FashionTelevisionChannel"; Hon. John B. Aird; David Sobey, Chair Emeritus of Sobeys; Garnet Watchorn, President, Graywood Developments Ltd.; William Lovatt, CFO & Exec VP of Great-West Lifeco Inc. and Donna Lovatt; Irving Ungerman, Community Business Leader & Philanthropist; Jean-Paul Leroy, Président, Seprim (Paris); Warren Thomson, Senior Exec VP & CIO, Manulife Financial Corporation; Robert Foster, President & CEO, Capital Canada; Timothy Danson, Trial & Appellate Lawyer; Ron Joyce, Co-Founder, Tim Hortons / Chairman Emeritus, Tim Horton Children's Foundation; Hartley Richardson, President & CEO, James Richardson & Sons Ltd.; Scotiabank; CIBC; CIT Group; AGF Management; RBC Dominion Securities; Davies, Ward, Phillips & Vineberg LLP; Gordon Securities; Heenan Blakie; Fiera Capital; Hiram Walker; Lloyds TSB; McCarthy Tetrault LLP; Borealis Group; RBC Financial Group; CAE Industries; SNC-Lavalin; Connor, Clark & Lunn; Xerox Corp.