Mickey la fave art is all about color

“What attracts me is the very bright colors – what the eye actually does not see,” says artist Mickey La Fave. “Color is everything. I couldn’t use brown to save my life.”

La Fave’s paintings use bright colors to accentuate their themes. She uses the watercolors that come in a glass bottle because they are more saturated with color and more vibrant.

Her specialty is watercolor pet portraits.

“Drawing pets and other animals is the most exciting thing for me. I love animals because I communicate with them. I can tell when they are happy, angry or curious.”

In addition to her watercolors, La Fave creates jewelry and multimedia pieces in her Arvada home studio. She says her style is all over the map but it’s usually cool and mystical.

“I can’t stick to one style, despite the advice to stick to one thing. The only thing consistent in my style is that nothing is realistic.”

La Fave originated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in Escanaba, near Lake Superior and Canada.

“It’s rustic, beautiful and depressing.”

She started making art when she was five and at the age of six won first place ribbon at the county fair with its introduction to Paul Bunyan. In high school, she was inspired and trained by local artist John Gustafson. After studying art at Central Michigan University, LaVave left Michigan because there was no work.

“There were no jobs there except in the paper mill.”

She moved to Houston and worked as an insurance marcher, then an investigator for the arson and fraud litigation unit. I moved to Colorado in 1982.

“I haven’t painted for a long time,” she says. “It was eating away at me that I would never be an artist, and that’s what I’ve always wanted.

“What made me paint again was a trip to Santa Fe with friends in 2011. We decided to create original gifts to exchange for Christmas. The idea attracted me because I needed a purpose for drawing.”

“Glitter Mouse”, watercolor, 14.5 x 21.5 in. “A stained-glass technique that I developed for drawing animals,” La Fave said. “I’ve done several Moss paintings and love the way each one looks different.” Image courtesy of Mickey La Fav
Gold-tone rhodochrosite necklace and earrings. The necklace is hand knotted with semi-precious rhodochrosite stones. Image courtesy of Mickey La Fav

Once it started, it worked at full force.

“I’ve done tent shows all over the place. I take lessons with watercolor painter Janet Nunn at night. Everything I do, I’ve learned from Nunn, including using watercolor paints. It’s impressive because it’s not about realism, just color.”

La Fave moved to Arvada in 2016. She lives with her two cats, her dog Harley, sheltie, and a baby parrot named Kanani. She retired in 2018 to become a full-time artist.

She said she relies on six spiritual guides to help her with her art.

“I have a team of artist spiritual guides working through me, including a great aunt named Caitlin, an artist who lived in Canada. I had dreams about her three-story house until I realized who she was. She is always there helping me.”

Other spiritual guides include Gustafson, a high school teacher, watercolor painter and potter.

“I saw him in Michigan in the late 2000s and he asked me, ‘Do you paint? I felt bad when I told him ‘no’ because he inspired me so much. After I started drawing again, I went back to tell him, but he died. I was disappointed because I wanted him to know and be proud of me. Now he trains me from the afterlife. Now he knows. Every time I draw , I call my guides and they help me. I fantasize about them and thank them for their guidance.”

In addition to its animal themes, La Fave paints nature scenes, vehicles, ancient buildings, and some abstracts.

“I like to paint rusty old cars because I see so many different colors like turquoise, purple, and yellow. I mix them until they pop, and that makes a great palette. I love old buildings too. I make a dark background, and then a bunch of colors over the building. There’s often a flying witch. “.

La Fave uses watercolor glazes to paint its colorful skies. With glazing, the colors are applied in thin, transparent layers, one at a time, letting each one dry before adding another layer. Last summer I gave presentations on glass at Art on the Farm, a monthly community event in Neighborhood newspaper Wheat Ridge Farm by Guy Nahmiach Publisher. (Art on the Farm is back this year – for more information or to get involved, email [email protected])

Her community involvement also includes her work as President of the Arvada Fine Art Guild and as Director of the Arvada Art Studio Tour.

La Fave often draws its inspiration from photographs or other images.

“Pictures can speak to me, whether they are of me or my friends.” If something makes me smile or laugh or feel expressive, I want to know the story behind it.”

One inspiration was a photo I took in Europe of a bent woman carrying a load, with several cats following her.

“I drew her because I wanted to know what her story was—her suffering? Why were the cats following her? Was she coming from the fish market? I don’t know why, but she filled my heart.”

La Fave branched out into jewelry and multimedia because she needed a break from painting. She said her other media outlets are all about color, too.

“With jewelry, I start with a semiprecious stone as the centerpiece and find colors that complement the stone and make it stand out.”

For more information see mickeylavave.com or email them at [email protected]

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