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Michael Tollesson - Artistic Savante

Michael Tollesson

Michael Tollesson donated a painting to the Children's Therapy Center fundraiser I attended last Friday evening.  It featured a scene of West Seattle with a light house.  It was very colorful and it was the first time I had seen his art, but I was struck with it's vibrant color and flowing brush strokes.

His art travels between two paths; one more realistic and the other more abstract and soul based.

I spoke with Michael at quite some length today and my first impression of him is he is a very good person who is trying to leverage his abilities to do good in the world and I want to assist him by licensing some of his paintings and featuring them in some of our products.

Examining my ability to paint; every stroke is instinctual since I have no training, and I rely on the use of the huge amount of stored information my Aspergers mind has observed and retained. Each painting a now create, regardless of size, is painted in less than 1 hour. When photographed during the process of creating a finished piece of artwork, my hand appears as a blur due to the movement of my hand and quickness of the application of paint to the canvas. This is the genius of a mind with Aspergers. In many ways I feel possessed during the actual act of painting, and I am reluctant to take credit for the finished work resting on the easel when I am done. What I do know is that the exploration of using a palette knife last year released me, and my use of brushes has now become less calculated and exact which allows the results to be much more impressionistic. I can now freely use both a palette knife and a brush while painting to get the desired results. The finished outcome is always a surprise to me.

My process is very interesting. The use of a reference photo that I lay beside my easel, in many ways dictates what my autistic mind will perceive as the approach for the finished artwork. Each reference photo must speak to me and I must have an emotional connection to the subject, colors, of design placement of the photo. The actual process toward the finished piece can go in many directions, but ultimately my subconscious mind will take the photo and transform it into my own version of the subject in the photo. Imagine taking a simple photo and punching up the colors on adrenaline, and then loosely using the subjects and placement to create a finished piece of art. That is what happens in my subconscious mind, so that the photographic elements and colors are recognizable in the finished artwork, but nothing actually appears copied from the original.

My brush and palette knife movements are quick and almost manic, although the application of the paint is somehow calculated and yet appears random on the canvas. Color and emotions pour from the finished canvas to draw the viewer deeply into the art. Ultimately, I hope the paint on the canvas provides a doorway into understanding my world and will ultimately capture my desire to touch another receptive soul.

His web site can be seen here

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