Michael-Che Swisher

I’ve had the great fortune of being an artist for twenty years. My training was in illustration and I worked in that field for seven years before my neurological symptoms began. I illustrated for children’s books, worked with big companies such as Williams- Sonoma, Old Navy, Clorox, and Cost-Plus, and had my paintings appear in magazines, on towels, and other products. Illustrating was very demanding with short deadlines and strict guidelines. I loved the problem solving aspect of each project and the variety of all the different projects. It was demanding, engaging, and exhausting all at the same time. Seven years into my career, I woke up one morning to blurry vision and nausea that progressed to split vision over the course of four days. My vision remained blurry for several months and slowly got stronger, but I am still left with a severe accommodative lag. The weak eyesight did not allow me to continue as an illustrator, but it did not stop me from continuing to paint when my eyesight was cooperative, and I changed my focus to fine art as it is more conducive to part-time painting. Over the years, I have been able to build a collector base and start to succeed in the new field. My fine art painting became inspired by my love of animals. As a child, I dragged home every injured squirrel, bunny, and bird. When I paint I focus on color, texture, and the personality of the animal. I love to paint instinctively and choose the colors and tools as the painting develops. I paint in oil and use both brush and painting knives and enjoy moving around thick layers of paint on the canvas. The colors get mixed both on the palette and the canvas In May of last year, I had an MS exacerbation that left my right arm and shoulder weak with decreased coordination and fine motor skills. It was a tough year of adjusting my living environment and adapting my life to sometimes one armed functioning. I was not able to paint for the rest of 2013. Recently, I received a mobile arm support that enables me to paint again. It was painful and slow to begin with but I am building strength and stamina each week. The mobile arm support has given me a sense of purpose again. There were definitely many emotions involved with this large piece of equipment joining my studio, but it quickly became normal and I feel a sense of pride when I strap my arm into it now. It makes me unique and tough, in that I won’t quit.

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