“A young Picasso, as if he fell into a rainbow.”
When Michele Taras of Mono, Ontario decided to try her hand at painting, she purchased a blank canvas – which sat in her study for more than 2 months before she could work up the courage to put her imagination to work.
Already an accomplished fashion photographer, Michele Taras’ work has been featured in such magazines as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Chloe, Bride & Groom, HUF, and Harry Rosen, among others. During her career, she has photographed many celebrities and celebrity designers including Rocky Gathercole and Monika Schnarre. Her success is worldwide and award winning, and has garnered acclaim with the Paris International Photography Awards, The International Photography Awards (Lucie Awards) out of the US, the Photography Master’s Cup, Women in Photography International, the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, the Black & White Spider Awards and the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards.
You would not expect that an artist as successful as Taras has been would be so reticent to branch out into other areas, but her humility and down to earth personality made her hesitant to go out on a limb and explore other art forms. The standing inside family joke had always been that Michele had taken up photography because she could not draw. Art is in her blood, and although she had long wanted to try her hand at painting, she worried about being compared to her mother, who is a talented visual artist in her own right. Then, in 2018, Michele felt that she had reached the peak of her photography career and felt ready for a new challenge. She finally completed her first piece, and reluctantly posted it on her Faceboook page. Much to her surprise – it sold immediately. “I was so shocked and grateful for the wonderful reception from my family, friends and followers”, said Taras, who has since earned more than moderate success in selling and exhibiting her work. “I am honoured, to say the very least, that people love my work enough to display it in their homes and businesses”.
Michele was described early on by the Orangeville newspaper as “A young Picasso, as if he fell into a rainbow.” Her style is art naive, modern and contemporary, and is completely self-taught. As a result, her raw creativity is free of the boundaries of traditional learning and she has developed her own, very distinctive style without guidance. Her work is uninhibited, which has clearly contributed to her wildly successful early career. Often described as “happy and colourful” – when her pieces are on display, the entire room becomes happy.
Once she sold her first piece, Michele began submitting her work to galleries and curators, and was fortunate enough to receive an excellent reception almost everywhere she went. She submitted her early work to Headwaters Arts and was selected to exhibit in their Juried Show and Sale. After contacting the Beaux-Arts Gallery in Brampton and submitting samples of her work, the curator fell in love with her unique style and selected two of her pieces to be a part of a prominent exhibition at the gallery. In 2019, after joining the Orangeville Art Group, a selection of her work was featured at the Orangeville Town Hall, and one of her pieces will be featured on the utility box at Kaycee Gardens.
Taras’ work is quirky and fun, but often has undertones of a secret message that only those who look a little farther will find. This year, for instance, she completed several pieces that are soberingly reflective of the times we live in, centered around the COVID-19 Pandemic. One of these pieces is aptly entitled simply “COVID-19”, and it is somehow serious and humorous all at the same time. The idea of the piece is quite simple – Wear a Mask. Apparently one goofy guy in the middle did not quite get the message, and he is proudly shown wearing the wrong kind of mask entirely. Featuring people from front line workers to athletes, and representative of every walk of life, it shows just how deeply everyone has been affected by this pandemic. Another piece entitled Marc et Jacqueline, was inspired by her nephew and his girlfriend who experienced the difficulties of physical distancing, and the struggles associated with being apart during the first months of isolation. Surprisingly enough, while the subject may be serious, her work remains colourful and playful, it is a refreshing departure from the mundane, and a relief from the sadness and desperation that surrounds our current situation here at home and around the world.
Michele has quickly become a rising star in the art world, and her collections have been sold and/or displayed nationally, from Montreal to Vancouver, and even into the US. Five of her larger pieces will be featured in a custom-built estate home in King City, and she has since been commissioned to create an additional 8 pieces for the homeowners, who loved her work so much that they asked her to create signature pieces exclusive to them.
Despite her success, Michele remains humble and community focused, recently auctioning off some of her work online to help raise money for Choices Youth Shelter. “I believe in community, and in giving back. I feel privileged that people are willing to purchase my work for a good cause, and I feel good knowing that they get to enjoy my work in their home as a result!”.
If you are looking for something contemporary and fresh – Taras’ pieces are certainly worth looking into. She has a distinctly recognizable style rare in an artist so early in their career, and the whimsical nature of her pieces leave the admirer wanting to know more. Prices for her work start at $200 and go up from there based on size and complexity.
If you would like to view Michele Taras’ most recent collection, she will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at Steve Wilson Studios in Niagara Falls from Sept 1-25th, 2020. The Gallery is located at 4681 Queen St, Niagara Falls ON. (416) 706-1732. If you would like to view her available pieces, or contact her regarding commissioned artwork, please visit her website at www.micheletaras.com.
Written by: Tanya Bottomley