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 Michael Peter French  (1951 - )

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Lived/Active: Quebec/British Columbia / Canada/Mexico      Known for: landscape, seascape, interior, figure, portrait and still life painting

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Ad Code: 3
Michael French
Children Sea Trout Fishing
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Michael French (AKA: Michael Peter French) is a Canadian painter and author.

He was born in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada (near Vancouver).  His homes have included Birmingham, England; Thornhill, Ontario; Jervis Inlet, B.C.; St. Albans, Newfoundland and Isle d'Orleans, Quebec (in the St. Lawrence River, near Quebec City). He currently (2010) resides in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. (1)

His primary medium is a mixture of oils and acrylics applied with airbrush* and brush on panel (2).  His subjects are landscapes, seascapes, interiors, figures, still life, village scenes and portraits.  His styles are Realism*, Hyperrealism* and Surrealism*. AskART have some excellent illustrations of his work. (3)

French is a self taught artist. His influences include the work of Rene Magritte (4), Thoreau MacDonald and Andrew Wyeth, the latter two whom he knew. (5)

He is not a member of any Canadian artist associations and exhibits primarily in private galleries; though, according to his curriculum vitae, his work has been included in group exhibitions at the University of Toronto; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the Agnes Etherington Gallery, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. (6)

The private gallery venues for his solo and group shows have included Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto; Forbes Magazine Gallery, New York; Whitfield Gallery, San Miguel de Allende; Dennis di Lorenzo Gallery, New York; The Virtual Art Gallery, Palo Alto; Humphrey Gallery, New York; Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal; Roberts Gallery, Toronto; McCready Gallery, Toronto; Bates Hill Gallery, St. John’s, Newfoundland; The Gallery, St. John’s; Hammer Galleries, New York; Lacroix Gallery, Quebec City; and Galerie Basmadjian, Paris. (7)

His paintings are in numerous private and corporate collections as well as the Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, N.B.), the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.) and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. (8)

Subjects of his portrait commissions include Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President George H.W. Bush. (9)

French is the author and illustrator of four limited edition books: Churches and Schoolhouses (1969), 19 pgs, 150 copies; Around Thornhill (1969), 20pgs, 150 copies; A Thornhill Farm (1970), 18 pgs, 200 copies; and Newfoundland (1979), text by Dawn French, 41pgs, 400 copies. (10)


(1) Sources: A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; and Roberts Gallery, Toronto Note: The Birmingham residence was in the 1950s while his father, distinguished aerospace scientist, Dr. J. Barry French CM (Order of Canada) was studying for his Master of Science degree. Source: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Journal, June 1965.

(2) A few sources have gone into detail describing the process of creating his paintings; what follows is from Whitfield Gallery, San Miguel de Allende: “Michael painted on acid free art board panels for approximately the first twenty years of his career. He then painted on sanded acrylic panels for almost another twenty years. In the last few years Michael has got back to painting on acid free art board panels that he specially constructs. The image from the photograph or from his mind is usually transferred by pencil to the art panel.

The next stage in his painting process is the under painting, which is done totally by airbrush of the sky and water by example and always in acrylic. Airbrush is essentially a very fine spray. The reason why the under painting is not normally done in oil is because layers of oil over many years tend to crack but if only the over painting is done in oil or glazes there is little risk of eventual cracking. Michael has occasionally done the total under painting in black to white in oil and then glazed in the color only as was the technique used by the Flemish masters but normally he under paints in acrylic which is a far more stable medium and far more suitable for airbrush under painting.

The next stage in the painting, is the over painting which is the majority of the painting (probably 80% to 90%) is accomplished by brush, usually in oil paint. However things like waves or blades of grass tend to be painted in acrylic because they are done in roughly straight lines with no blending. Oil paint tends to be richer and less limiting in color selection than acrylic so the majority of over painting and glazing (very thin paint) is done in oil.”  Source:

(3) Ibid., Roberts Gallery, and AskART Images.

(4) All artists mentioned in this biography have their own pages in AskART.

(5) Sources: The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; and Hanson Gallery Carmel

(6) Source: Whitfield Gallery

(7) Ibid.

(8) Sources: Canadian Heritage Information Network*; Owens Art Gallery

(9) Source: Whitfield Gallery

(10) Source: Art Gallery of Ontario archives (online).

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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