Artist Michael Breyette creates beautiful pastel figurative pieces. They have featured on magazine covers, novels and a pictorial anthology Stripped and The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today by Erotic Signature Publishing. In 2007 he had a book published called Summer Moved On, through German Publisher Bruno Gmünder. I first came across his work on the covers of several Scott & Scott novels and really liked the softness and beauty in his pictures. It was something just a little different from the boytoons I do so enjoy!
You grew up in rural upstate NY, what was it like?
It was alright. For the most part it was a happy childhood. Early on my parents weren’t well off, but as a kid you don’t really notice that. We had fun. The three of us kids usually played together as often there weren’t many other kids near by, just a lot of farmland. I was shy, so I usually only had one or two good friends at a time. We moved three times during my school years so it took a while to re-adjust and fit in each time.
What particular art works did you enjoy as a kid?
When I was younger I was really drawn to the work of Boris Vallejo and similar fantasy artists. I loved the bold colors and the heroic men. They were masculine and beautiful and the skin tones were rich and vivid. The men and the artwork seemed bold and unrestrained.
When I read this interview, I wondered how difficult it was not to draw those beautiful men in your mind?
At the time I had let my artwork fall by the wayside I didn’t really have an outlet for it. My surroundings were hardly conducive or even accepting of what I really wanted to draw. And I guess like what happens to so many people who have a passion or a dream, life just gets in the way and distracts you.
How big an influence was the internet on you and your work?
On a personal level I almost hate to think where I might be without it. Back in 1992 I joined the online service GEnie, if anyone remembers that. It put me in contact with other gay people, people I could talk to and be myself, be accepted. It really opened me up. Until then the only contact I had with other gay men was anonymous sexual encounters from cruising all those seedy places, parks restrooms etc. You know, the shadows, the places that society tried to keep us back then. Artistically it also had a significant impact. It exposed my art to a vast audience that would never have seen it otherwise not to mention buy it as well.
What do you find most challenging in your work?
Over the years the challenges have changed. I guess you recognize it, deal with it then move on. But the most enduring have to be time and money. Sure there are swells of both on occasion but outside forces are constantly chipping away at both.
Some of your work is quite erotic, but for me there is also a strong element of sensuality, romance and every day life. How important are those last 3 to you in your work?
I think they are very important elements that define my imagery. I actually think my work is more about beauty (and not just in the physical sense), life and positivity than sex.
What sort of process do you go through when you’re working?
Outside forces affect what I do. It sets my mood and that’s where I find my seeds of inspiration and the direction my next piece will take. A feeling or emotion is often my starting point and that gets paired with a setting or activity or a moment. Other times it’s the reverse. When I have the rough scene in my head I do some research. I look for images I can reference for the elements in the scene, everything from haircuts, torsos, hands, arms, faces, beds, clouds, barns whatever. Sometimes I take pictures myself and have gotten in the habit of taking pictures of things that might someday get worked into one of my drawings.
Are there any particular artists you admire and enjoy?
There are plenty I admire and enjoy for various reasons. They range from classic Renaissance artists to contemporary. Of contemporary artists that specialize in the male genré my favorites list would include BEAU, Kent, Robert Richards, and comic artist Patrick Fillion.
Do you have a piece of work you’re particularly proud of or feel emotionally connected to?
I feel connected to all of them. The time, effort and emotions that go into them makes them part of me. I try to put myself in the scene I am creating, and feel what the characters are feeling. I try my best with each piece so I am proud of them all. Though as time goes by and I feel my skills have gotten better I look back on some old works and think I could do that better or differently now. But at the time I finished them it was my best and you have to always be proud of that.
I really liked your good things list on your blog. It is lovely, tactile and makes me think of summer and at the moment I DREAM of summer! Do you like to cook and/or have some favorite summer things or moments?
I do cook, and really enjoy it. I also enjoy the beach. I also love finding a spot, especially in a vacation town like Ogunquit ME or Provincetown MA to sit, sip a cool drink and just people watch, they are fascinating.
You like Little Britain! Obviously a man of great taste. I love Andy, Bubbles (a very dongarous woman) and the two ladies. Do you have a favorite character? (PS Have you seen the Mighty Boosh or The Inbetweeners? I am such a Brit TV geek).
I too love Bubbles and Desireé, I also like Sebastian, Marjorie the Fat Fighters woman and of course Vicki Pollard and Daffyd Thomas. I don’t know the other shows you mentioned; I don’t think they are on BBC America.
What are you reading at the moment? And, have you read any of the books your work is on?
Right now I am reading two books actually, which is rare for me since I am admittedly a lazy reader. I am reading “Audacity of Hope” by Barak Obama and Natural Health & Weight Loss by Barry Groves. The latter is interesting as it shows how low-fat eating and the traditional food pyramid is not the right diet for people and are to blame for obesity, diabetes, cancer and other ailments that have proliferated since low-fat eating became the nutritionist mantra.
You often have your top ten playlist on your blog and have a great new Music Magazine Blog. What are you listening to at the moment? (I adore MGMT at present, and the singer is really cute. Puerile, I know!!)
I love music that has beauty and energy, that creates emotion and soothes and feeds the body and soul. Right now I’m listening to Sally Shapiro, “He Keeps Me Alive”.
I saw a piece you’d done in a more comic style on your computer, is this something you do often?
Not too often. It’s a nice break once in a while to get away from the dirty dusty pastels. I also enjoy that style, the lines the simplicity. I went through a Nagel phase back in the late eighties and today I find gay ‘toon artists like Patrick Fillion very inspiring.
I’ve enjoyed reading your weekly polls on your blog, especially the one on underwear. As a girl who has a serious Ginch Gonch thing at the moment, what is it about undies do you think that is so sexy?
Underwear is like wrapping paper (but even better). Who doesn’t love getting a present, sure it’s the item inside you want but it’s much more exciting when it’s all wrapped up even if you know what it is. Whether it’s in pristine white or wild colored patterns, the package snuggly contained behind thin material is more thrilling to enjoy a few moments and unveil than to just have handed to you.
And finally, what have you got coming up soon we can keep an eye out for?
Something to look out for is the resulting book from my 1000 Words Project that invited writers and would-be writers to submit stories based on my artwork. The publisher is hoping to have it out for Christmas.
Michael, thank you so much for taking the time answer all my questions. I am so looking forward to your 1000 Words Project, and seeing the art through MLR Press will be wonderful. Your work is rich, evocative and embodies such a great love of life – it is truly something beautiful.
Rain. We curse and avoid it, either staying indoors or shielding ourselves with umbrellas and coats. But in the right setting, it can be so beautiful: a city street at night, bathed in the silver of falling rain, car lights glowing in the mist, the patter as it hits the sidewalk. If you dare to venture into it, you’ll feel each droplet exploding on your body, the rivulets trickling down your torso as your clothing clings fast to your skin – Michael Breyette. 2007.
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