Artist Interview – Roland Mikhail

The level of detail in Roland Mikhail’s work is hard to believe. He is able to execute sublime realism in his paintings and then pack them full carved textures and symbolism seemingly effortlessly. He labours for months over his pieces and every hour is visible in the result. We sincerely recommend visiting his website so you can see the close-ups of his pieces!

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1) How do you motivate yourself?  

RM: Being around good people, good work, and love of the work; but when I can’t find those things routine and its momentum are pretty useful. The truth is that my paintings take an enormous amount of time to produce. So between that fact and the need to see an image finished there is a lot of motivation.

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2)  How do you structure your time?

RM: When my time isn’t split and I’m in my studio, I like to start the day early in the gym.  I  give myself an 8 hour day with a one hour lunch. I  try not go over or under the eight hours so that I can do it again the next day. I used to devote all my studio practice to painting, but have begun sculpting regularly. I was reluctant to take time away from painting because my work already develops so slowly, but I have found it has made me more productive and calmer at the easel.


3) What do you listen to when you work?

RM: Some parts of the painting are better suited for listening than others, but when I have something on it’s usually a podcast or music: electronic, hip hop or rock.

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4) Who are three artists that inspire you?

RM: I love Michelangelo’s sculptures and drawings. Especially all the unfinished work. There is just such a deep beauty in his sculpture.

For the last few years I’ve been very influenced by Hindu sculpture but especially the ancient carving of Indonesia. There are narrative reliefs in the stone temples of Java and Bali that I can’t get enough of.

And I have been doing a little investigation of Vincent Desiderio’s use of color over the last year.

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5) What’s the best piece(s) of advice you have been given?

RM: There are many, but there is one that is coming up right at this moment. When I was leaving school I was told no matter how good you get at what you’re doing never stop learning. That was pretty good. There isn’t a new medium, subject, or sport that I have set my mind to, that hasn’t enriched my life and work.


6) Describe an object or tool related to your work that you love.

RM: I have a Hughes easel which is just amazing. I’ve never bought anything and been as impressed with it a year later as the day I bought it. It’s a beautifully crafted woodwork, allows me to move my heavy wood panels in all directions on an x y grid completely effortlessly, and all kinds of little features to keep you in disbelief a year after purchase.

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7) An anonymous patron has donated $100K for you to build your dream studio, what would it look like and where would it be?

RM: I have my painting space/work flow pretty dialed in, so I wouldn’t change much. Of course you can always use more space. But if I could do anything I would like to outfit a space for learning stone carving which is a bit prohibitive in here in Brooklyn where I live.

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Take a look at Roland’s instagram here: @rolandmikhail

Or for an even closer look visit his website here

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