My Story

Hi, I’m Michelle.

About - Michelle Darwin - Painted StoriesAs a painter, maker, and storyteller, I work with you to craft a custom painting of a space that is dear to you – helping keep an important part of your unique history with you, always.

I fell in love with darkroom photography as a teenager. Before school, at lunch and often until the custodian came to clean at night, I could be found in the darkroom, fully immersed in my craft. People said they could always tell if I’d been in the darkroom that day – I was visibly happier. I loved the quiet space, the process of printmaking, working with my hands, and watching a carefully composed image appear before my eyes.

During university, I found that darkroom photography was becoming inaccessible and increasingly unrealistic – supplanted by digital.

What to do instead? I spent years trying to fill the hole as a web designer and developer for a magazine, at an agency, and finally as a freelancer. But something about the pace of technology and so much time spent staring at a screen felt uninspiring.

So, I spent all of my spare time devouring books and movies, cooking, and gardening, to find balance. I moved to Montreal where I lived for five years in a sunny, book-filled home. I created a home studio and started drawing regularly. I discovered, to my great amazement, that there were people who spent their lives listening to and telling stories. I was drawn to the idea of doing this through illustration. I started painting, and was able to create the immersive moods and worlds that are so captivating to me. I began to get that joyous darkroom feeling back.

This experience taught me not to sweep memories under the rug because some aspects are painful. Instead, celebrate and cherish your unique experiences as part of your history – part of who you are. Carry them with you. Feel grateful and filled with the good that came of these things. 

A few months ago, my husband and I bought an old farmhouse in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. We’ll be starting a colour farm and dye garden – Vibrant Acres Colour Farm – growing natural colours for yarns, textiles, and handmade goods. We have plans to turn the land into a magical garden and the barn into a studio space. I look forward to getting to know the house and land in all its seasons – and to painting it as I do. Read the story behind this move and see the Painted Story about it: We Bought a Farm.

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