Q&A: A Unique Art Style, a Unique Setting

Courtesy of Michelle Condrat

The 10th annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art begins this weekend (Saturday, September 8), and artists will once again be welcomed to the national park for a week to create "en plein air" landscape art that will then be on display into January. One of those artists, Michelle Condrat, has known since she was a child that she wanted to have a career in the arts. We spoke with her about the upcoming event and her unique painting style.

What drew you to landscapes?
I really like being outdoors; I like to go hiking and fishing, things like that. I’ve always liked nature a lot, and I like painting things that I enjoy. I’ve always been drawn to the landscape.

How did you get involved with the Celebration of Art event?
I’ve done other plein air events before. My most major one was a Zion National Park plein air event, and someone from the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art saw my work there and really liked it. They told me to apply to the show, so I did. My first year was in 2016.

Describe your artistic style.
My style is definitely different from a lot of the other artists. It’s more of a modern impressionist style. Some people think it’s almost geometric.

It’s developed over the years. Back in high school and most of my college days, I was a really traditional artist, very photorealistic. I just slowly developed it. I was really interested in breaking up edges of things, and the whole horizontal and vertical strokes started developing, and I liked playing around with that. It lends itself really well to the landscape and red rock, because it’s already so linear. My style gives paintings a bit of movement, and I really like that, so it’s not just a still picture of a landscape. I want to give a little bit of life to my painting.

How did people react to your different painting style?
Within the past five or six years, people have really liked it. But when I first started, I don’t think people really knew what to think. I got a lot of funny looks, like people didn’t really get it, because they were used to seeing more traditional styles for plein air paintings. People slowly accepted it, and as they saw it more, I think they really got used to it and embraced it.

What keeps you coming back to the event?
I really like the group of people, the artists and coordinators. And just the fact that it’s the Grand Canyon. It’s a really special place to visit. I know people travel from all over the world to see it, and I feel really honored that I get invited to be there. I really enjoy painting it — it’s challenging, but I really like it.

To see more of Condrat’s art, visit her website. To learn more about the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, visit the event’s website.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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