Photography by Owen Jones

Michelle Noah has been painting since she was a child growing up in Oklahoma City. She attended art school at The University of Oklahoma before settling down with her husband in Lake Highlands in 1986. Noah has painted in her historic Downtown Garland art studio for nearly five years, but she often sells paintings out of her home here. Some of her artwork now resides in Lake Highlands and Lakewood homes, along with the abode of a Bachelorette contestant. 

Becoming an artist in the neighborhood.

When I got married and had kids, I switched over to smaller art and tried my hand at watercolor, and then I did a lot of small folk art. I got a part-time job teaching art at a classical Christian school. I taught sixth, seventh and eighth grade art. I did that for three years. I moved to another school and taught first through eighth grade art for another two years. The year between finishing teaching and opening this studio, I did a lot of different things. I did pop up art in Snider Plaza. I got 14 artists to put art there for a month. That’s when I decided I wanted to open my own studio, and two of the artists that were in the pop up started this with me. We looked around and figured that Garland was going to work for us. We would have loved to have been in Lake Highlands because all three of us are Lake Highlands moms, but this just worked better price wise. I knew I wanted to paint, create, become an artist and have a website. One [of the artists] stayed about six months; my other partner is still here. She does watercolor, but loves painting at home, so I kind of ended up here by myself. I probably paint about 30 hours a week, and then I spend about 10 hours a week on marketing, social media and the website.

Describe your current artwork.

I transitioned from a folk art focus. I really got into the whole scene of Oklahoma history and art. When I started the Enneagram series, that was about a two-year process. I had already started moving toward a little more abstract. I took a three-day workshop on a class about abstract and color composition, and that was definitely an influence for me, learning different types of paint and different techniques. When I move on from one thing to another, I will definitely paint over something from my past if I don’t like it anymore. If it’s not good quality, I’ll just paint over it. I definitely painted over some of my folk art. 

Photography by Owen Jones

What inspired you to create By the Numbers: An Enneagram Series that featured at the Eisemann Center? 

I have four adult kids, and they kept talking about the Enneagram. They would say, “Oh mom, you’re such a seven.” I’m like, “What’s a seven?” I decided to start learning about it. I ordered a couple of books off of Amazon and Suzanne Stablle’s book is the one I ordered, and I loved it. A friend of mine and I decided to take a two-day [Enneagram] workshop here in Dallas. I painted the nine Enneagrams first, and then I painted the triads. One is the perfectionist, two is the giver, three is the achiever, four is the individualist, five is the investigator, six is the loyalist, seven is the enthusiast, eight is the challenger and nine is the peacemaker. There are 234 all lumped together in the heart triad and 891 are the gut triad; they’re instinctual. There are 567 comprising the head triad. And the wings, I think they’re really interesting, too. It just has been booming lately as far as people wanting to know about it.

What’s your Enneagram?

I’m a seven, which is an enthusiastic adventurer. I’m very optimistic, high energy. I probably drive my family crazy a little bit with my energy sometimes. I love trips. I love events. I’m very event-driven, so it’s perfect in the art world because the art world is event driven. I worked two years towards the Eisemann show. I sort of live for the next exhibit. I paint toward something, I paint toward a series, toward a show. I like that, it motivates me. 

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I love Matisse. I love Monet. I love Kandinsky. I probably have more art history books than necessary.

How can people see and buy your art?

Someone can contact me through cell number, my email and website. I have art at my house. Sometimes people are closer to Lake Highlands, so they come by my house. I’m doing a show in May at Market Hall, it’s called The Other Art Fair. I’ll have a space there, and I’ll be selling art. I do commissions, but I’d really rather paint a series that’s got a theme that I’m interested in. I’m happy to paint something a certain size with a certain palette, but they kind of have to like my style and what I’ve already done. I’m not gonna paint a portrait, I don’t do those. They have to love the painting, but it also has to fit in their house, it has to be the right color. Ever since I started a little more of a blue/green with the turquoise/aqua palette, a lot more people have been interested. That seems to fit more people in terms of what their house is like. 

Photography by Owen Jones

Who typically purchases your work?

I have a Lake Highlands group that is super supportive and have bought a lot of my art. Lakewood is a place where I seem to have a lot of my art in homes. I’ve got some big pieces like “Moonlight” in a Lakewood home. Enneagram three is in a Lakewood home. Rachel Lindsay, she works for “Extra,” she’s from Dallas, she’s a lawyer and she was the first Black “Bachelorette;” she sent me a Facebook message and wanted to buy my Enneagram eight. She was on Instagram stories the other day, and my daughter saw my painting in the background, screenshotted it and sent it to me. When someone’s in my house and they’re interested in a painting, I say “Everything’s for sale. If it’s hanging in my house, I’ll sell it to you.” My husband is like “What happened to that painting in the dining room?” I’m not very sentimental about keeping anything.

What inspires you and your work?

My spirituality does influence my art. I wouldn’t call myself an inspirational painter. I don’t paint Christian themes, but I feel like that’s a huge part of who I am. Everything I do comes from a Biblical worldview. Being an artist, I love embracing what other people are doing. I love helping young artists. I love mentoring them. I love using my studio to help other people.

What’s next?

My big focus right now is to find some good quality prints for my Enneagrams because it is expensive to buy a piece of original art. And I think there’s people that would love a collection of Enneagram paintings, but maybe a print is more affordable. The Other Art Fair is my next show I have coming up, and that’s in May. I’ve also entered a juried show in Oklahoma City.