Colette Wirz is a New York City-based artist whose work harkens back to another time  However, Colette and her process are very much fresh and contemporary.  What inspires her work?  Check out our chat here…

MICHAEL: Hello Colette, Your work is very lovely, elegant and academic. In another lifetime, I can picture you painting in a salon with perhaps Edith Wharton posing for you. What do you think?

COLETTE: Ha Ha! Thank You. I would like to think that my art work shows the inner nobility of all women past, present and future. I always felt a pull towards the 19th century for some reason - the fashion, the attitude, the mood, the gaslight romances.

MICHAEL: Romanticism I suppose? For you as an artist, is it the style or actual philosophy of that time? It's definitely a rich period to interpret. You could spend the rest of your life exploring it.

COLETTE: I think it’s a little of both. I paint nature with my heart. My paintings open the door for my love of nature. The natural world is what keeps me at peace. I try to keep that peace in my paintings.

MICHAEL: It's clear that you paint to please yourself. You create so many poignant, vivid yet delicate scenes. Do you paint from actual life or your imagination? How does the process differ for each?

COLETTE: I paint because I want to make the world a better and more beautiful place. I paint both from my imagination and real life. I still believe their value to everyone’s interpretation of beauty. It’s amazing to me that everyone looks at the same landscape and still life with each person depicting beauty and emotion in their own way. I try to find beauty wherever I look. Beauty is relative. My drips in my so-called elegant paintings help show the imperfections of beauty. The drips in my paintings counter the delicate qualities of my work. The process - I always look for a source of inspiration and it usually begins with a subject matter that intrigues me. But it can be as little as a bold color that sparks a mark on a canvas. My eyes are always hungry from just observing my surroundings. Whether it be a highlight in a still life, an elegant neck in a portrait or a fog passing along in a landscape.

MICHAEL: You live in New York? Judging from the appearance of your paintings, your work doesn't seem to be inspired by contemporary NYC ... or is it?

COLETTE: I take photographs (which then become my own interpretations) of cherry blossoms during The Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C and all around the New York City parks during the spring. Cherry blossoms take me into a magical place and allow me to immerse myself in the beauty of the blossoms.

MICHAEL: Your work has such a beautiful, timeless and almost unfinished quality like Impressionism. You seem to be inspired by the Old Masters. Are you?

COLETTE: Yes, I am very much inspired and influenced by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. I like such artists as Cezanne, Bonnard, Monet and Van Gogh. The light in Monet’s paintings always astounds me. Cezanne's still lifes are breathtaking and very well constructed. Bonnard’s soft colors and unfinished nudes seem to tell a story. Bonnard’s thin layers of paint that slowly build onto the surface, I try to use similar techniques. Van Gogh’s passion and emotion in his paintings are forever with me. I also look at the abstract expressionists such as Hans Hoffman, Rauschenberg, Diebenkorn and Rothko. I love their color sense, raw action painting and mixed media approach.

MICHAEL: So many people don't know much about contemporary art, let alone buy it. Is this ever frustrating? How are you doing as an emerging artist? Blue chip art remains on fire among the super wealthy, but I'm concerned about emerging artists today.

COLETTE: I believe it is a very difficult time for emerging artists in a time when the economy is suffering. I was fortunate enough to study at the School of the Art institute of Chicago. However, I was very aware that my career choice would be a difficult road when one of my professors said to me that 95-percent will never make it to become artists. It was a reality check for me. However, my passion and determination have helped me succeed as a painter. I have been blessed to have sold many paintings in the U.S. and around the world. I have also been lucky to be represented by a terrific online gallery - They help bring affordable art to all clientele.

MICHAEL: Excellent. What do you think about the art and how it functions in the world today?

COLETTE: I think that art still plays an important role in society. I feel that art brings joy, new ideas and addresses important issues. I don’t believe that it has all been done before in the art world. There’s still more to be discovered and created. I try to learn from every art piece I look at it -whether it be a painting, sculpture, photography, video art, performance art etc.

MICHAEL: Finally Colette, Where do you think contemporary art is headed and what are your hopes for the future?

COLETTE: I anticipate great works of contemporary art in the future and present which will be all variations of medium, subject and style. My hopes for the future are that the audience will be kinder to the struggling artist and that more people would appreciate the time, effort and hard work that go into being an artist. I hope that emerging artists will have a greater chance in sharing their artistic voice with others.

MICHAEL: Thanks Colette.  My best to you.

COLETTE: Thank you so much Michael.  All my very best wishes.

Check out Colette and her work at