Creative Edge


Michelle Gudde: An Artist’s Calling


By Savanah Mandeville


“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” 
― Vincent van Gogh


For Michelle Gudde, being a painter just makes sense.


From the first time she picked up a paintbrush, she knew it was her calling.


“I actually didn’t start painting until I was 32,” she said. “It just happened that one day my sister invited me over to paint with her, and I loved it so much I never stopped.”


Just weeks after she started painting, Gudde and her three sisters flew to California to take a two-week painting course under artist Bill Alexander, author of “The Magic of Oil Painting.”


Within a few short months, Gudde had become one of Alexander’s Master Teachers and was teaching full time out of her home – a career that supported her for more than 30 years.


Gudde found her calling and jumped in with both feet.


But about seven years ago, Gudde was diagnosed with bone cancer and underwent a surgery that could’ve put an end to her painting forever.


She had to have her right arm amputated, which meant she would have to learn to do everything, including painting, with her left hand.


“I couldn’t give it up because it was my life,” she said. “It took me about a year to teach myself to paint with my left hand, and I also switched to acrylics. It was different and difficult at first, but the results have been wonderful.”


Gudde’s style is recognizable. While she paints a wide variety of subject matter – from massive landscapes to floral still-lifes – she is known for large, sweeping brush strokes and rarely works on canvasses smaller than 24” x 36”. The fountain of inspiration flows freely for Gudde, and she continues to learn to this day.


“A lot of times an idea for a painting just pops into my head, or sometimes I’m just trying out a new color or technique,” she said.


After her diagnosis, Gudde’s teaching days came to an end, but she still paints daily for the fun and enjoyment it has always brought her.


“My motto is: Touch many lives, share the joy, and be happy,” she said. “Painting makes me smile, and it makes me happy. When I’m painting, I don’t think anything but happy thoughts, and I lose myself in my work. As a teacher, I made it my mission in life to help others find that same joy.”


Gudde’s paintings are available for sale on her Facebook page: PeaceByPieceArtistry.