My studio where you can see the plein air version of “Monsoon Monday” to the left next to my larger 30” x 30” studio piece.
My studio where you can see the plein air version of “Monsoon Monday” to the left next to my larger 30” x 30” studio piece.

How do you find inspiration?
Michele Byrne: Two years ago I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here everything inspires me and I feel like a kid in a candy store. The southwest colors are so much different and I find it a welcomed challenge. Rugged landscapes, sage greens, river gorges, waterfalls, historic churches and Native American pueblos, the list goes on.

Last week when monsoon season started and I was eager to go out and paint a rainy street scene (my east coast subject matter). I set up my easel on the corner of St. Francis and Santa Fe Trail. I had so much fun painting this, I decided to paint a larger version of it.

How did you develop your unique style?
Michele Byrne: I’ve painted since I was eight years old, when I took an adult oil painting class in a Pennsylvania barn. I went to college for graphic design and illustration.
My style from the beginning was rather tight, but my goal has always been to loosen up. Plein air painting certainly helped loosen up.

Then, while on a painting trip to Paris in 2008, standing on Saint Germaine, I realized I had no paper towels. Using my apron as a towel and only my knife, I knew I was on a new venture. I love how the palette knife does magical things if you take the time to be aware of each stroke.

My newest goal is to paint larger pieces plein air. The size helps to keep my paintings more impressionistic. I love experimenting and challenging myself each time I step up to my easel. I feel as artists we will never really be satisfied with our art and that’s OK.

My goal is to be learning and experimenting until the day I die.

To see more of Michele’s work, visit:

oil painting of raining, monsoon season in the streets of New Mexico
Michele Byrne, Monsoon Monday, oil, 10 x 10 in., plein air, 2022
oil painting of New Mexico landscape while horse back riding travelers in the distance

Michele Byrne, Morning Riders, oil, 11 x 14 in., plein air 2022 at Ghost Ranch (couldn’t resist adding the horseback riders that happened by)


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