Artist in Residency | Michelle Wilkin


How did your journey as an artist start? 

I have always been creative, ever since I was a little girl I was never without a sketch pad, pencil or paint brush in my hand. I’ve been fortune to have had a long successful career as a Designer, Creative Director and Brand Strategist, but when I became a Mum the juggle that comes with that double-duty territory meant my hobby of painting was neglected and I missed having this personal creative outlet terribly. 

My children are now older, and my lifestyle is different now. As a family we returned to New Zealand in 2022 after a decade living in Toronto, and with that huge lifestyle adjustment meant I was in a position to re-evaluate what was important to me and what I wanted to do with my life and this fresh start back in NZ. It felt like the stars were aligning and I was now in a place personally where I wanted to do something for me, to put all this life experience onto a canvas and follow my dream to paint again.

What’s your biggest source of inspiration?

It’s hard to choose one source, inspiration changes daily, it can come from visual sources like other artists, designers and creatives I admire, a book entry that I love that floods my mind with striking visuals, or even a sketch my 11 year old daughter is working on.  

With each art series I release I dive into a period of testing and research before I start painting. My previous series (‘Bird Song’) was inspired by the calming effect of nature after my daily walks on the beach led me to find such a sense of serenity as I paused and sunk into the view and I wanted to pass this effect onto others. Whereas my current series (’Silent Disco’) is steeped in the concept of Wabi-Sabi, an ancient Japanese philosophy where the unexpected beauty found in imperfection is celebrated. This attitude is something I employ across all facets of my life and inspired me to create art that at first glance appears quiet and unassuming but as you explore it’s depths, with multiple layers of hidden details and markings, it reveals itself and begins to speak more loudly to you.

How did you find your unique way of creating?

I believe that the best art comes from a place that is equal parts experimentation and intuition. You can have all the training in the world but if you don’t follow your gut and loose yourself to the process of creativity you’ll miss out on those moments of magic and the final piece will not feel authentic.

Naturally I love to work with neutrals that’s what feeds my soul. I love to build colour by mixing tones and using transparent layers to create the unique depth you can see within my pieces. When I began testing for this current series I experimented with ratios of water to find the right opacity, and developed a technique that alternates between thin very wet paint and dry brushes with thick, opaque paint, this gives me flexibility to create different moments and variation within the layers and build the colour tones and contrast of depth within the piece to a more interesting level.


How does creating art make you feel?

Pure happiness. It sounds cliché, but it really does make my heart sing. 

After I set up all my canvases, brushes, paints and materials for the day I put my headphones in and press play on a great audio book, the combination of my two favourite hobbies (reading and painting) puts me into a mediative state where I zone out from all exterior noises and influences and just wholly enjoy the process of creating. I find when I let myself go without time pressures, exterior motivators or expectations that’s when I enjoy myself the most and subsequently create my best work.

Tell us about the future - what are your aspirations both personally and professionally? 

Personal and professional goals become blurred when your passion has become your day job. But my personal hopes are to continue to grow my skills as an artist. I don’t believe anyone stops learning, every day I find something new to improve upon, and it’s often my biggest failures that have taught me the most. 

I have so many ideas for my next few series' brewing in my head and can’t wait to put them to the test. With each piece my talents will grow and evolve, and with time that results in greater reach, not just to find collectors for my art, but also to connect with other like minded artists, creators and makers to inspire, teach and celebrate each other.

Quick Q's

What’s your favourite interior design trend of 2024?

Warm tones. The richer the better. Caramels, walnuts, chocolates… they are having such a moment and I’m obsessed.

Favourite object, piece of art or furniture currently in your home?

It’s a tie between my favourite piece of art (a large abstract piece by Canadian artist Sarah Delaney that my husband and I bought for a special anniversary 5 years ago, and yet continues to capture my attention like it was yesterday). And our La Marzocco Mini coffee machine (beautiful yet practical, and in all honesty - I can not live without!)

Something on your home decor wish list?

A Pompeii marble plinth! And new lounge room chairs, I have my eye on the gorgeous Sarah Ellison ‘Alva’ lounge chairs from the Slow Store.

Local Favourites

Coffee shop?

Ozone Coffee Roasters is always my go-to.

Place to dine?

Prego. You just can’t beat the classics. But for date night or a special occasion I love Daphne’s.

Activity or place to spend your down time around Auckland?

I’ve always wanted to walk up Rangitoto so that’s on my list for 2024, but with a new puppy in our household currently things are a little closer to home so I’m always out walking around Orakei Basin or for a bit more of a view (being near the ocean always fills up my cup) I’ll go around the Bays.


Three pieces of Michelle's Silent Disco Series; 'Good Fortune', 'Heart Centre' and 'Second Nature' are available to view and shop exclusively at Pompeii, Ponsonby. 

Shop Michelle's Art 

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