Portraits: From Children To Distinguished Triangle Area Professionals

"Michelle, I am so grateful to you for capturing on canvas some of who I am as a person and as a pastor. I will long treasure these visual interpretations, and even after I am gone, they will be visible reminders of my life and ministry.” Dr. Marion Lark, First Baptist Church, Henderson, NC


“I want to thank you and commend you for your kindness. Extra photos taken, return visits to match what I have in my mind’s eye of a person I love like the air I breathe, little strokes of color – You did it! And with laughter and kindness. Amazing and I appreciate it! We love the portrait. She is lively and full of joy. And that’s our Taylor.” Marcie Silver, Raleigh, NC


“I want you to know how much I appreciate the excellent job you did on my portrait despite the reluctant subject you had to work with. My friends all say you outdid yourself, and the only fault I found with it was that it looks exactly like me! You certainly did not miss your calling. I hope our paths will cross again.” Judge Franklin Dupree, Senior US District Court Judge


“We have truly enjoyed the portrait and the fine work that you do. Your insight is impeccable, and you have the ability to tap into a higher power... absolutely a rare ability. Your letter is a true treasure, and I will always keep it with me throughout my life. Thank you.” Michael Nash, Atlanta, GA


“Wow! What a treat it was to arrive at your home and see Gavin’s amazing portrait! I was absolutely taken aback! Breathtaking is another way to describe it! Thank you so much for capturing our first born’s spirit, look and essence! You outdid yourself! And I am so excited that you will have two more to do with the Bizyak family.” Maureen Bizyak, Raleigh, NC

Michelle Snead

Portraiture - A Life Long Passion Beginning at an Early Age

"As an artist I am privileged to present the splendor, the harmony and the mystery of God's canvas."

"As an artist I am privileged to present the splendor, the harmony and the mystery of God's canvas."

Michelle has been a professional artist for the past twenty-nine years, but her love of art extends much farther back. She was born in France and spent her childhood in Gastonia, North Carolina where her parents encouraged her artistic talent. From the age of eleven, she painted landscapes and still lifes in oils, and then over two decades ago, she turned her attention to portraits. Michelle’s art career follows her first profession, that of a high school teacher, having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wake Forest University. After becoming a professional artist, she received an additional degree in fine art from Meredith College in 1997.

The majority of Michelle’s work hangs in private homes in North Carolina and adjacent states; however, some paintings now hang from Maine to California. Her corporate clients include the federal court system, churches, hospitals, board rooms, and numerous businesses, especially in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area. She has been featured in Wakefield Living, the Henderson Dispatch, Luxury Living, and the News and Observer. She has been represented nationally by Portraits South for the past twenty-two years and continues her affiliation with the Portrait Society of America, being one of the founding members. In the PSA tristate portrait competition, she was a finalist.

When Michelle is not working in the visual arts, she devotes a large portion of her time to music. After volunteering as director of the Chancel Choir of North Raleigh Presbyterian Church for over twenty-two years and leading a group of singers to perform in Carnegie Hall, she “retired” in 2013. Her other interests include gardening, photography, providing care for others as a deacon in her church, playing tennis, and spending time with family.

Transcribing Moments of Lives to Canvas

A few words from Michelle...

I love to paint, watching life emerge from a blank canvas......and I love to meet new people, discovering who they are and what is important to them. Painting portraits naturally evolved as a way to combine these two interests. My career brings me joy and personal satisfaction, but it also touches other people’s lives. The paintings capture a moment which people simply don’t want to forget. They are visual reminders of a segment in time which has special significance, a way of saying, “This person is important to me.”

I Loved working with the Walters Sisters

I Loved working with the Walters Sisters

I understand all these feelings. I have two grown sons, and I know how precious each stage is. There are times when you gaze at your child and realize that their innocence and pure adoration of you won’t last forever. You want time to stop. Later, you see your teenager on the brink of adulthood, brimming with enthusiasm for all that the future holds. You might want to capture THAT moment. All portraits are not family paintings which hang in your home. There are public portraits, and these are the times when you bestow a great honor on leaders in business or the community for their many contributions. You want an image which captures their wisdom, intelligence and vision....something which goes beyond a photograph.

When you commission a portrait, you’ve opened the door to your life and allowed me to be a part of it. I want the process to be enjoyable, and I do everything that I can to put you at ease. You should feel free to ask me any question which comes to mind so that each step along the way is perfectly clear. Throughout the whole process, you are involved in a significant manner so that you don’t doubt whether or not the finished product will be just right. I want you to have faith that I will go the extra mile to give my very best.

My goal is to capture the essence of the individual, but I’m simultaneously thinking about how the finished product needs to be a work of art which will stand the test of time. I concentrate on the lighting, how the colors must harmonize, how compositional elements must lead the eye around the painting, how I need to create a mood. Though I’m using my photographic references and sketches, I must determine what to add and what to leave out so that there is a living breathing presence on the canvas. The process is demanding but ever so gratifying.

I love the hugs that I get when I present the finished portrait. My new friends send me lovely letters which I read and then tuck away. They mail me Christmas cards giving updates on their children. I consider them a part of my extended family. On the back of each painting, I include a Latin phrase, “Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam” which means “To the Greater Glory of God”. I am forever thankful for the talent which I’ve been given, and I feel blessed that I can pursue my passion which then becomes a treasured part of other people’s lives.