Staff Show 2018: Michael McSorley

In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in This Is My Day Job: The 2018 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 30, 2018.

Drivers by Mike McSorley

Drivers by Michael McSorley

Tell us about yourself.

At the age of eight, I was allowed to take some photos with an old camera. My photos of bicycle wheels, sewage pumps, and other inane objects vexed my parents (film and developing was expensive), but predicted some of the art I now produce.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I’m a museum assistant. I help visitors with information and also protect the art. Before or after visitors arrive, I get to study the art, mostly looking at the value and color themes. I have found that the majority of paintings in the galleries use a complementary color scheme or a variation on that.

Photo of Mike McSorley

Mike McSorley

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?

Pierre Bonnard’s Children and Cat. I love the cool violet-blue light on the kids’ foreheads and the analogous color scheme.

What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?

The Goh Annex and Sant Building, second floor.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2018 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

My process varies piece to piece, but on this painting the image was composed and drawn using graphite. Paint was applied, pulling the graphite into the paint and using it to darken and tone down the edges. This layer was thin and the ground of the board reflects back through. This increases color variety which was also enhanced by brushing, scraping, rubbing, using contrasts of color and other concepts. Sometimes the original lines are still visible in the finished painting, and at other times I redraw the edges with pencil to add strength. Initially I had drawn the tools lying down, but when that wasn’t working, I wiped out the drawing using turpentine. That left a dark stain, so I flipped the painting over, covered the stain with a velatura of white, and let the history of it show. I thought this added an interesting element.

This Is My Day Job: The James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view through September 30, 2018. Join us for a reception in the exhibition on September 20, 5-7 pm.

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