Artwork Spotlight

Artwork Spotlight: Michael Highway – Blanched

In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. Artists with lived mental and emotional health challenges show the power of art for mental health. These works range from short stories to visual art, music, poetry, and more! Today, Michael Highway (he/him) shares his digital art.

Michael took the time to participate in a Q+A with The Layered Onion, but before we share the dialogue, here’s a little bit more about our artist:

Photo of the artist, Michael Highway. His digital art is inspired by his experiences with mental health. Exploring mental health through the arts. Art for mental health.

Michael Highway is a Toronto-based illustrator. Most of his works are digital, composed of various colour blocks and few lines, and often inspired by verse fragmentation thoughts from dreams.

Michael participated in a Q&A with The Layered Onion, further expanding on his work. Michael gives us some creative replies that make us think!

Michael Highway's Blanced. Art for mental health.
Michael Highway, Blanched. Digital. March 3, 2022.

What first led you to art?

Can’t remember exactly. I would say boring and nightmare.

How would you describe your artistic style?

The style is like something you’d see in a black room after a shower in the fall.

What are your favorite materials and mediums to work with?

It used to be acrylic, but now I think digital is fine too.

How do you approach digital art?

I found it convenient to draw on the Ipad without having to do a lot of prep.

Any advice for novices who want to dive into creating digital art?

Experimenting with different textures and brushes in digital painting is a lot of fun!

Where do you draw inspiration from?

From time to time, experimental ideas, dream fragments, and some unexpected and interesting things in life.

What inspired this piece?

I initially wanted to draw a cowboy with a line dress, with a smoky beard, balancing in a weird pose. But ultimately, it was all because I wanted to draw striped clothes.

The character has a spoon and a glass in their hands as they balance on one leg. Does this symbolize balance?

I tend to think that the atmosphere of the whole composition has balance.

Can you elaborate on that title/concept of balance?

We dance in the dark

The lines melt on us, the brilliance is fading

but it is ok

We are still in balance

Even with glass spoons and cups in hand

won’t break easily

Any questions I missed that I should have asked?

Did you have sweets today?

 Em’s response: I am currently very fond of York mints – they stop you before you eat too many.

Readers – how about you? Whet the tastebuds with anything deliciously sweet? After all, it was Halloween this week.

Anything else on your mind?

A blue balloon turns into a purple sun at sunset.

Thanks for sharing, Michael! A lovely and thought-provoking conversation. Michael’s work is also included in the first version of The Shallot and you can see more of it on his website and Instagram.

Michael Highway's morning shower. Visual art display of living with mental health challenges. Art for mental health/ art and mental health.
Michael Highway, morning shower. Digital. 2022.