Michael Sampson

Artist Statement

My paintings begin with the figure. I draw directly from the model creating lines that search for form and are based on the gestural movement of the body. The experience of drawing from the figure model allows me to have a foundation to expand on in my paintings and from there I can abstract the image. When I transfer my drawings into paintings the information I remember from the model session develops into the colors and textures I use for abstracting of the figure.

Observation from the figure is vital to my process. I need to be able to be in front of the live model to capture the different aspects of their personality. I use various models such as ballet dancers, acrobats, traditional nude models, duos, and my wife as muses. Along with various models I also use varied surroundings outside in nature where the model can be a part of nature.

My process includes editing my drawings. I bring the drawings from a model session to my studio and spread them out on the floor to see which ones I want to pursue as paintings. This process means that I either paint directly on the surface of the drawing or transfer the drawing on to another surface. This stage really focuses on the composition of the drawings, and whether or not I see a potential there before I can begin painting.

As I work on my paintings I am not concerned with bringing out the figure. I am however concerned with building on the drawings and using those drawings as a foundation to build my paintings on top of. By allowing the painting to reveal itself to me in a natural way I feel no need to become representational since there is such complexity to the shapes and lines. This leaves room for many interpretations in my work.

The model is truly my muse. I enjoy working from a real person instead of from my imagination because I am in the moment and collaborating with the model. This personal interaction between myself, and the model directly influences every part of my process, and I have found that as my paintings progress they become more and more about the model. How I translate their personality, and that personal interaction determines when a painting is complete.




  • Montserrat College of Art, Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1993

Selected Exhibitions

  • 2017  Then and Now, State of the Art Gallery, Ithaca, NY
  • 2016  New Members Exhibition, State of the Art Gallery, Ithaca, NY
  • 2015  Pin Press Monotypes, Sola Art Gallery, Ithaca, NY
  • 2014  In Pieces, CSMA Gallery, Ithaca, NY
  • 2013  Finger Lakes Exhibition, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY
  • 2013  Group Exhibition, Montreal Art Center, Montreal, QC Canada
  • 2010  One-Person Exhibition, CAP Art Space, Ithaca, NY
  • 2009  Finger Lakes Exhibition, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY
  • 2007  Biennial, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
  • 2005  Duo Exhibition, CSMA Gallery, Ithaca, NY
  • 2004  Biennial, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY
  • 2003  Duo Exhibition, Atrium Gallery, Corning, NY


  • Member, State of the Art Gallery, Ithaca, NY

Curatorial Projects

  • The Cellar D’Or, Ithaca Gallery Night, 2016
  • Dunham Enfield Gallery, On Line Art Gallery


  • Community Arts Partnership, SOS Grant, 2015

Public Art

  • Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Art in the Heart, out door mural panels, 2015


  • New American Paintings, Open Studios Press, Northeast 104