Q&A with Mitch
What is your favorite time to paint?
I love to paint at night. Sometimes I stay up all night and go to bed at 8 in the morning. I like the quiet energy, and there are no interruptions. I need the quiet to be able to fully focus. During the days or evenings, I also love to sketch from live models, and I teach figure drawing at the Art Students League of Denver. For painting, though, there’s just something special about the nighttime. It energizes me!
How long does it take you to complete a painting?
That’s really hard to answer. It depends on the complexity of the subject, plus, sometimes things go smoothly and quickly, and sometimes it’s a bit of a battle. Or a big battle! It could be anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months, or more, to complete an individual painting.
How many paintings do you work on at a time?
One or two. Sometimes one has parts that have to dry, so I work on another painting in the meantime.
Do you ever start a painting and not complete it?
Yes! Not too often, but it has happened.
What are your favorite subjects to paint and draw?
I’m excited by just about everything!
Do you have a favorite artist that inspires you?
I have many artists who have inspired me. When I was in high school, I loved Norman Rockwell and Degas, and also discovered living artists Richard Schmid and Ramon Kelly. I love the French artist, Beaugureau, whose work I first saw at the Denver Art Museum, and then discovered at other museums around the United States. I also really like John Singer Sergeant and Thomas Eakins. I mentored under Phil Steele, who was a student of George Bridgman.
Where are you from?
I was born in Oakland, California, but moved to Colorado when I was 11 years old. So Colorado feels more like home. My father’s mother was originally from a small town near La Junta, after her family migrated there from Missouri, so I have Colorado roots.
Where were you educated in art?
I started studying at Rocky Mountain School of Art at the age of 16. After graduating high school, I got a scholarship there and attended full time. Then I went to Colorado Mountain College, studying commercial art for a year.
What was your first job in art?
I worked at Channel 9 (9News in Denver), as a news artist and courtroom illustrator, for 11 years. My favorite part of that job was getting out and sketching in courts. It was interesting listening to the cases and the testimony.
What was your first interest as a fine artist?
I started as a figurative artist. So dance was a natural direction to take, especially cultural dances. We took a trip to Tahiti years ago (when it was still affordable!), and I got very interested in their culture and dance. It got me interested in my own roots (Mexican, from my maternal side), and in American Indigenous peoples and their culture. I also worked with Spanish and flamenco dance. All of these experiences led to an opportunity to work with the Colorado Ballet.