Michelle is a self-taught artist who came by her love for art from her mother, Rene O’Connor - an award-winning artist and painting teacher - and her sister, Danielle O'Connor Akiyama - winner of the President's Choice award during the Florence Biennale representing Canada in 2009.
Michelle’s personal journey as an artist began thirty years ago in her mother’s kitchen in Toronto. “I recall wanting to give my mother-in-law a gift from the heart—something unique that captured my appreciation for her. So, out came my mother’s watercolour paints and brushes, and a new love was born!” Michelle’s interest in art flourished under her mother’s guidance, and she remains Michelle's biggest champion in art to this day.
During the early years, Michelle’s love for art was only eclipsed by her passion for entrepreneurship. She pursued initiatives in marketing communications, learning, technical writing, and process improvement. Building a new house in mid-town Toronto proved to be the perfect opportunity for Michelle to add a dedicated studio. “Every day before heading to the office, I would paint for a couple of hours in my studio. It invigorated my soul for the day and gave me purpose!” However, the paints were set aside for a few years when Michelle got sidetracked and pursued a graduate and post graduate degrees.
Michelle began to experiment with water-soluble oils and became captivated by the luscious colours and creamy texture. When she wanted to paint a wall mural in her house, she switched to acrylic paint and was excited by their quick dry times and wide range of effects.
When she and her husband moved to the shores of Hay Bay Michelle picked up her brushes again. Except this time, it would be a full-time commitment. Michelle is heavily influenced by her beautiful surroundings. Her source of inspiration is limitless as she is immersed in nature, big sky views, and vibrant sunsets.