Local artist wins People's Choice Award in Akron's Kaleidoscope Art Show

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Stow -- A local artist who has pledged to create one plein air work for each day of the year is showing the creative world that her artistic impressions are anything but plain.

"Hall of Mirrors," a watercolor, pressed foliage and French textbook pages work, created by Michelle Knapper, a 2003 Hudson High School graduate, was recently named the People's Choice Award winner in the 2013 Kaleidoscope Art Show in Akron.

"It's a pretty big show in Akron," Knapper said. "The people of Akron, throughout the show, could submit their favorite piece [to the judges]."

The winner's name was announced during the Dec. 31 First Night celebration in Akron. As a winner, Knapper received a hand-blown, working glass kaleidoscope.

"The man who makes them, only makes two a year," Knapper said. "He sells one and the other goes toward the Kaleidoscope winner."

As the winner, Knapper's work will also appear on billboards, posters and all advertising pieces for next year's event.

"I also get to make a showpiece for the event," Knapper said.

Knapper works in a variety of mediums which include oils, watercolors and collage.

"Hall of Mirrors," was created using watercolors and a variety of plants to portray the hall of mirrors, which is located in France's Palace of Versailles.

"It's one of the most recognized rooms in the world," Knapper said.

However, in Knapper's work, the hall takes on a slightly different interpretation than real life.

"My idea for a piece was to portray the hall of mirrors as if it had been taken over by nature -- like if people were not around," Knapper said. "I collected all sorts of different pieces of little plants during the spring and throughout the year I was pressing them."

The inspiration for the work came from a dream in which Knapper, who has never been to the hall of mirrors, saw the room covered in plants.

After Knapper painted the watercolor, she used a brush and an acrylic substance to paint and adhere the plants and leaves, into the collage.

"That was the hardest part," Knapper said. "The little plants would break and stick to your fingers."

The finished works gives the appearance that plants are actually growing on the watercolor paper, Knapper said.

"This piece has a lot of hours in it," Knapper, 29, added. "I would say at least 12 full hours, maybe 16. That is definitely longer than my average piece."

Knapper is also in the process of beginning and completing one plein air work per day, no matter the weather, through the end of the year. She began Jan. 1.

"Plein air just means in the outdoors," Knapper said. "It's basically painting from life outdoors. I love this area and I love the change of seasons so I feel like I wanted to showcase how beautiful Ohio is though all the seasons."

Joseph Darvis, who owns Inventus Masonary Cleaning & Historical Restoration in Hudson, is Knapper's fiance.

Knapper's work, which can be found in various places around Hudson, can be purchased at her website, www.michelleknapper.com. Knapper is using money from the sale of the work to help finance the couple's August wedding.

Darvis called Knapper's style "uniquely her own."

"She is very clever, innovative and precise when it comes to her art and the pieces she wishes to create," Darvis said. "I get to be along her side as she competes in competitions and pursues her dream. I get to see the talent, skill and intensity that goes into her artwork."

Knapper also will continue her plein air project on the day of her wedding.

"Michelle's year in plein air will document her wedding year and memories of 2014," Darvis said. "Each day I get to hear what she chooses to paint and where she wants to go. Everyday is a new adventure into the forest, fields, city, etc. I can't wait to see where her talent takes her today and 20 years from now."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

Facebook: TimTroglenRPC

Twitter: @Trog_RPC

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