Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Art + the Spaces in Between


Michelle Carnes has a deep interest in the emotional landscapes of her subjects. Growing up in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood, she was immersed in her culture, stories and traditions of the Ukrainian diaspora. Her experiences created a curiosity for human expression, endurance and interconnectedness. She studied formal figure drawing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago at the age of 11. She was recognized for her artistic abilities, won regional awards, and was commissioned by collectors at a young age. Michelle went on to pursue a degree in Visual Communications from the Colorado Institute of Art, and earned her Masters of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

"My need to create is formed by women who taught me about strength and survival. Growing up, I found my escape in pop culture, music and film. I looked up to the artists and changemakers who taught me the importance of being comfortable in my own skin and my personal power of self expression."

As a classically-trained oil painter, Michelle explores spaces of expression, relationships between people and place, impact on our environments and the subconscious stories we tell ourselves. Inspired by rock, hip hop, punk and the compositional techniques used in fashion photography, her experience of being a female creative is forged by an interest in people and the power of individuality. Although she has been formerly trained to capture a physical likeness of a subject in a classic sense, she looks beneath the surface to find a personal vitality, capturing the abstract energies that connect the viewer to her work.

Michelle's process involves conceptual observations, painting en plein air, ala prima, live models, street photography and video shoots. Her years of experience as a designer and illustrator allow her the ability to map out her creative path with digital collage, freeing her up to explore the materiality of the oils in an immediate way. Her focus is to capture movement, light and color in a pure and authentic sense. 

Michelle's work has been shown in one-woman and group shows, galleries, wineries, public art commissions, and live painting performances. She has been featured on NBC news, Sundance Film Festival, ChefDance, South x Southwest, Google Intersection, as well as commissioned for art installations for corporate and private collections — nationally and internationally. Her studio is located on the Pacific Coast in Northern California. She is currently showing in the Bay Area.