By Meghan Hendley
Image courtesy of Micah Simmons
Born in Pensacola, Florida, Micah Simmons found art to be an outlet combining form and feeling as a calling in his life. Studying with painters David Swaim and Patrick Palmer, Micah’s work continuously transformed through the use of the human form and color, cuing the imagination to shape a varied opinion of what was on the canvas. There isn’t much in the way of written descriptions of the artist’s work but the dearth of formal information allows the viewer to create a story with their own mind.
The use of the mind is a key point in Micah’s work, creating an original perception while including different senses. His hands create the lines, his ears hear melodies, and his mind makes bold choices producing a unique style intertwined with classically-formed bodies and illuminated colors. Sight is often secondary, instinct guides the brush, and music helps paint the colors. His paintings give the viewer’s imagination a chance to be stimulated and craft its own perception of the piece. Micah has often said that the responses from his audience offer continued inspiration and produce even more insight into his work than he had originally anticipated.
Most of his work is painted to music, allowing for the notes or lyrics to spark an idea. The music continues to lead the piece into the final outcome, becoming a statement of shaded beauty and striking lines. Micah is also known to paint in front of an audience, making it similar to a musical performance. The energy from both of these experiences resonates in his work, leading to euphoric and fluid visions.
His application of the human body ranges from the classical style of painting to the abstract silhouette all wrapped in paint strokes that always hum with light in between the colors. Some of his other works focus on pure color or objects. FPH sat down with the artist to ask him questions about his style and his progression as an artist.
Your pieces are composed of color, cued by form and feeling. How do you take forms such as the human body and contrast them with color?
I use color to create depth in and through the human form. To me, there really is no rhyme or reason but color theory does play a part.
What made you want to be an artist? What art classes helped shape your current style?
Art for me was a natural progression. I tend to like to say art chose me. I was considered legally blind for 26 years starting in the 8th grade. Art for me was about feeling [rather] than seeing, so it was natural to me because I didn’t have to focus.
You wish for the viewer to use their imagination, going past the first impression. How do you craft your work in order to allow this to happen?
Well, a lot of it starts with the depth of color and the use of thick and thin layers. I want the viewer to want to walk through the abstract brushwork. To me, these days, some artists tend to produce half paintings and then create a title that leaves no room for the viewer’s imagination.
Your work is often inspired by music. What parts of music resonate with your work and inspire you? What kinds of music/bands do you listen to?
Because of the lack of eyesight, music has always unlocked my ability to see by feeling. All that has been seen from my art is really an extension of how I feel at the time. Yes! I am always listening to music and often go to concerts. I love many types of house and am a huge fan of metal. Yeah, I know it’s kind of weird. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of Nu-disco, Tech house, Hounds of Jezebel (local), and Lamb of God – ha!
You’ve also been known to paint in front of a live audience. What is this like? What’s the energy like?
This is the best for me; I love doing it. Being the fact that music is an emotional tool for me, so is the audience. The audience is as important as the paint and brushes I use. The energy alone is amazing! The closest example would be getting together with your closest friends and there’s this charge in the air that it’s going to be a good night out with them. I LOVE that feeling!