GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Mike Coles sounded more than a little surprised to be describing his artwork. For the Eagle resident, just the fact that he has art to discuss is quite a new, exciting thing. While his wife, Micki, is an artist, Mike has never called himself that. For decades, he’s worked at a building supply company and done a bit of craftsmanship and construction on the side. Then, a little while ago, he tested out a new building material, marmorino (also known as Venetian plaster).
And his whole life changed. He started using the ancient, limestone mixture on bathrooms and such before deciding to do something radical with it. Why not apply the stone to a board and call it art, he thought.
So he did.
What he ended up with is panel after panel that look like something between a painting and a tile piece. The colors are vibrant, and the textures are varied. All the work is done with a palate knife, sometimes free-hand and other times using stencils. Micki has taken up the art form as well, and tonight their first joint show is opening in Glenwood.
Most shocking to Mike, it seems, is just how much he’s fallen for this new hobby. He’s gone from never doing art to having it take up the bulk of his free time. And he sounded downright happy about that fact.
“It’s not work, you know?” he said.
How did you get into the world of plaster? “I would say I fell into it by accident. I was given an opportunity to test a new product line for our company, and in investigating the new product line, I just fell in love with it.”
He went to a school to learn plaster techniques and became an apprentice in the art. These days, he goes by the title “master in Venetian plaster.” His wife might not have such a lofty handle, but she gets by just fine.
“I’ve taught her what I know with plaster application, and she added her artistic elements. Now, she’s teaching me more than I teach her.”
Did you ever think you’d start doing art? “Never.” (Laughing)
“I’m still amazed today at how beautiful the panels come out. … There’s not a day goes by that we don’t learn something new.”
What changed, made you want to create art? “So many people look back at some of the walls (he created) and say, ‘Wow. That’s a piece of art.’ At that point, in time, you wake up and say, ‘Hey, why don’t I do a smaller version of this?’ And then you start adding to it.”
Right now, do you feel comfortable with the title of “artist?” “I feel very uncomfortable. I don’t think I ever referred to myself as an artist.”
He explained that he thinks his wife, with her master’s degree in art and teaching experience, deserves the title more.
“I’m going to be the guy that smears mud on a panel, and hopefully people will like it.”
How do you feel when you complete a piece? “I, personally, like to leave them on the bedroom wall, because they’re thrilling to look at. And then you sit back and look at them and say, ‘Hey, I made that.’ That’s pretty cool.”
What do you want to give people with this work? “I think I would say they’re getting something that’s really not available in the art world. Not only is this a unique painting ” if you want to call it that ” but it’s a unique material that’s hard to find in the art world.”
Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111
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