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Michelle Jader

layering emotion and motion in paint


I’ve explored themes surrounding transformation and personal growth by painting figures jumping, leaping and diving into the next phase of their life. While I anticipate that themes of change will be evergreen for me, I wanted to further explore motion and emotion in a new and dynamic way.

My latest body of work captures the kaleidoscope of experiences, feelings and emotions you might encounter at a show, carnival or amusement park. The carnival is an invitation for us to embrace the world with a childlike sensibility of possibility and daring. The lights, the movement, the sounds and smells take you out of your head and you begin to play with your fears and inhibitions. When you step through the gate or behind the curtain, you literally become a part of the show.

This series of paintings challenged me, as the work itself invites viewers to do when they step into this world, to challenge themselves, break free from their fears. When we invite ourselves to be taken in by imagination and fantasy and suspend our hesitations, we can discover a deeper connection to ourselves.

There are moments in life that are serene and times that are brimming with excitement. My own life is feeling a bit like an exhilarating, white-knuckle ride with climbs, drops, and spins. I simultaneously want to stay on and can’t wait to get off.

To capture these concepts, I conduct a number of photo shoots with a variety of models. Images are selected in a series, compositions are developed, and I systematically begin to build paintings on multiple layers of acrylic panels.

My style of painting was developed with the support of the fantastic professors at the Academey of Art University in San Francisco, CA where I earned by MFA in figurative painting. My painting support system was designed in 2009 after an a-ha moment of looking through a series of personal painting studies on mylar paper, an almost compulsive desire to paint motion, and an extensive period of trial and error.

artist's statement

Click here to see a behind-the-scenes video showing how my paintings are created.

acrylic panels

acrylic panels

Each oil painting consists of several layers of semi-transparent acrylic panels. They are stacked in front of one another to add depth and emphasize the feeling of movement. The works are mounted to reveal these layers but no special hardware is required. Each painting can be hung on a wall using a traditional picture hanger.


American Art Collector magazine
August 2018 issue
October 2017 issue
June 2016 issue
May 2015 issue
June 2013 issue
November 2012 issue
January 2012 issue
September 2011 issue

Fine Art Collector magazine Jan 2016

Juxtapoz magazine April 2013



Needs a bit of updating.



Like many of us, my own life has come with plenty of change, both unexpected and planned. Every one of these instances has come with a multitude of sensations and striking moments of vulnerability, but they’ve also led to new experiences and new life phases. One of the most affecting changes for me has been my decision to finally dedicate myself to my art.

For nearly 20 years I worked in the corporate world crafting marketing campaigns, launching new products and driving business objectives. For 15 of those years, I owned my own marketing consulting business and had the fortune to partner with several Fortune 500 companies. And truth be told, I loved being a marketing consultant. I enjoyed the challenges and the rewards of the business world. However, I began to realize that the moments I felt pure joy in this work was when I collaborate with the talented and creative artists of my advertising and design agencies. They sparked something within me. It was this spark that ignited a fire inside of me and drove me to do what I truly loved.

As my career progressed, I secretly and increasingly imagined a life where I could spend my time creating art that wasn’t subject to unanimous team approval or validated by the number of units moved. I just wanted to create my own art. Finally, in the summer of 2007, when the urge to be a full-time artist was too strong, I took the leap and enrolled in San Francisco’s Academy of Art University graduate program for fine art painting.

For me that was a terrifying, yet exhilarating time in my life. I felt like I was on the edge of a steep cliff, with no view of the ground floor and my only choices being to jump, fall or be pushed. These critical moments, whether it's leaving home for the first time, starting or ending a relationship, beginning and ending a job, contain a universal feeling of loss of control, time moving forward and hurtling through space. My current series INTO THE UNKNOWN explores the multilayered emotions experienced right after we leave the cliff, armed only with faith in ourselves.

reference images

reference images

Gymnasts, dancers, and models help me capture the feeling of falling, diving, and leaping for my artwork by jumping around on the trampoline. The photo shoots are fun, energetic and great way for me to get dynamic reference images.

behind the scenes

behind the scenes videos

From initial concept to a completed painting hanging on the wall, each painting goes through a series of similar steps. Check out the attached video to see a behind-the-scenes look at how the oil paintings are created.

As my work evolves, I'm exploring how much depth I can achieve with more layers, different materials, and new ways of presenting the paintings. See more behind-the-scenes footage of my latest work below.


spellbound    40ascension    52double dare   46it's all an illusion    25embrace    48phantasmagorical 2    15phantasmagorical 1    15phantasmagorical 4    20interlude    22embracing impermanence BACK    49embracing impermanence FRONT    49swell    32joy full throughout    12the calling    20discover    40longing    26play    11summertime dreams    49">feeling for focus    17familiar strangers    44street of shadows-finding the light    18street of shadows-finding the light    18beginnings    42searching    24desiring    17toward tomorrow    12'x9calming chaos    48ready, set, go     24blooming from blue    30torn    24all turned around     8remembering and hoping    29">certainty    19tangled    24unraveled    28unraveling    18becoming from blue    30wanting     18falling    28surrender    24floating through memories    19leaving    18running    18tumbling    18releasing    28remembering    18seeking    19caught in the current    16beckoning    24trusting the fall    28reckless abandon    32two steps back    24whirlwind    14letting go    16spring   40for joy    24london bridges    24pockets full of posies     24

Side view example of a painting.


email. michellejader@yahoo.com
studio. (415) 290-1909

Julie Nester Gallery - Park City, UT
Robert Lange Studios - Charleston, SC

contact information


social media

my facebook page includes photos of work in progress.
click this link and "like" my artist fan page to receive occasional updates in your Facebook newsfeed.

(843) 805-8052

(435) 649-7855


SOLO Show: The circus
Robert Lange Studios
Charleston, SC

November SF Open Studios
1890 Bryant Street
Studio #206
San Francisco, CA