Charlottesville, Virginia-based artist Michael Fitts has been using oil paint on reclaimed scrap metal for more than ten years. The subjects Michael paints draw from the most generic of popular culture objects with an emphasis on objects that are used once, then discarded and quickly forgotten. To him, the unexpectedness of elevating the importance of ephemeral objects to the status of art is the most interesting aspect of his work.
I began painting on scrap metal in 1992 and I’m always asked, “Why scrap metal?” After I graduated from art school, I began looking for alternative surfaces on which to paint, partly for the experimental aspect but mostly because I didn’t have money to spend on canvas. I noticed a neighbor was throwing out a piece of old sheet tin with his trash. I retrieved it and have been painting on scrap tin, copper and aluminum ever since. What I found appealing from the onset was the sheer variety of surface tones and textures that I discover in my search for metal. For me, surfaces are very important, more important than the subjects painted on them. Of particular interest are scrap pieces that have markings, distressed paint or dents and scratches that were produced before I discovered the piece. Collaboration with those past elements keeps the process evolving and interesting. I also enjoy the thought of retrieving materials from the trash heap and breathing new life into them through my paintings.