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Monday, February 13, 2012

Meet Our Masterminds: Dohee Lee and Michelle Tholen

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 8:30 AM

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Michelle Tholen: The Landscape Painter

Light River #26 - MICHELLE THOLEN
  • Michelle Tholen
  • Light River #26

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau waxes eloquent about the lure of nature, including the inspiration he got from light, writing of a moment when the woods "were bathed in so pure and bright a light as would have waked the dead, if they had been slumbering in their graves, as some suppose. There needs no stronger proof of immortality. All things must live in such a light." It's that sort of natural light that Michelle Tholen captures in her paintings, a light that inspires even as it is presented without sentiment. In the wrong artistic hands, sunsets and waning moments of daylight can become cliché and mawkish. (See the work of Thomas Kinkade. Or try not to.) Tholen's landscapes are timeless riffs that almost abstract the horizon -- a mix between reflection and refraction.

Curving River #5 - MICHELLE THOLEN
  • Michelle Tholen
  • Curving River #5

Her work speaks to the deep connection between sky and physical earth, as in Smooth River, where a winding waterway is bathed in the falling sun that peeks from above. The division of sky and ground give Tholen's landscape paintings an ethereal feeling and a balanced symmetry. Surprisingly, Tholen is self-taught. A San Francisco resident, she graduated with a degree in accounting in 1997 and worked as an accountant for three years before embracing painting. She found a niche in landscapes one day in 2002, after she finished a climb at Samuel P. Taylor Park in West Marin, peered at the sky, and was taken by the sheen it made on nearby water. Before that day, Tholen said she was feeling "lost" in her life. Her first landscape painting was a chance to recreate "a moment I fell in love with." The subsequent paintings seem to capture that same momentous feeling.

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