By Bonnie Gangelhoff
For Michelle Torrez there is nothing more interesting as subject matter than a living, breathing, thinking human being. “Some artists who paint landscapes have so much to say about them,” Torrez says. “I just don’t have as much to say about a bush as I do about a human. Every single human being, when you really look at him or her, is gorgeous—even people you hardly notice on the street.”
Torrez says that while she was painting IF YOU DON’T GET LOST, HOW CAN YOU BE FOUND, she felt as though time was suspended and she was completely lost in the process of creating the painting. Or as artists commonly say, she was “in the zone.” And she relates this to the process of painting in general. “You are not really conscious of any outside influences or techniques,” Torrez says, explaining her intense concentration. “And the title means that if you don’t let go, you will never reach or experience this. I just got lost in the paint.”
This piece, in many ways, is a quintessential Torrez figure—loosely painted, expressive, with a strong sense of movement. Indeed, the artist says that what she really wants to convey to the viewer is energy. She believes that when collectors buy her paintings, they are purchasing them not just for technique but also for the energy the artist has put into them.
For Torrez the most important thing is for the viewer to connect with her work on a human level. “I want people to see themselves in my paintings,” she explains. “If I paint a strong, confident woman, I want someone to say, ‘Yes, I have that in me. I can identify with the woman in that painting.”