About Michael Mcfadden

Michael McFadden is a fine artist, master craftsman, and educator. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mr. McFadden studied at Carleton College, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin where he received his MFA.

In 1978 Michael established an art studio and fine furniture workshop in the Tribeca area of New York City. In 1987 Michael and his wife Doris Ettlinger, also an artist and educator, moved their studios to an 18th Century grist mill in western New Jersey where they raised their two children, Ivy and Benjamin. Recently Michael re)red from teaching engineering, architecture, and fine art at Hunterdon Central High School.

Michael’s images are inventions based on memory and imagination. He transforms his personal experience of poignant events into abstract images. Michael’s paintings are constructed from a personalized vocabulary of marks and shapes. He creates a visual environment that invites exploration. His color harmonies, composition, and calligraphic brush work result in expressive, high contrast images that engage the viewer through shared impressions and experience.

Artist Statement

PROCESS-How I make art.
When an idea or image captures my imagination, I save it in a sketch. If an idea has potential, I develop it using more sketches and collages. I use collage as a means for expression and discovery, it helps me find what I otherwise might not imagine. Using ink and watercolor on rice paper fragments, I build a vocabulary of abstract parts. The parts are used to find images and build a composition. Each image is the product of many decisions. By making choices I find and express myself. I value honesty and transparency as I make these choices. I favor intuition, improvisation and accidental discovery while composing. As the image develops the parts are glued into place to form a structure for the painting. The collage may be part of a painting or the subject of a painting.

SUBJECTS – What do I paint?
I work to share my experience of poignant places and events using abstract images. The images are invented using memory, imagination, and shared experiences. I work with personal and traditional themes which I repeatedly explore. I prefer subjects which I experience emotionally. My work is meant to evoke emotions and intensify memory by compressing time and space. I hope that its meaning is completed by the viewer’s own associations.

WHY – Do I paint?
I paint for knowledge and pleasure. I am happiest when using my mind and my hands. I use my mind to discover problems and my hands to solve them. The challenge I enjoy the most is to making something out of nothing, to find meaning. My emotional response to places and events motivates me to re-imagine them in poignant images. The riverside environment where I work often provides inspiration. I also enjoy reimagining traditional themes, like a jazz musician playing standards.

New Brunswick Art Salon 2021 Fall Watercolor and Mixed Media Exhibition


M.F.A. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, MFA, 1978.

M.A. Purdue University, LafayeNe, Indiana, MA 1976.

B.A. Carleton College, Northfield Minnesota, BA 1971.


2019 – Studio Montclair, Viewpoints 2019, 22nd Annual Open Juried Exhibition

2019 – Center for Contemporary Art Members Show

2019 – The 35th Ellaraslie Open, Trenton, NJ

2019 – Bethlehem House 3rd Annual Juried Show, Bethlehem, PA

2019 – Center for Contemporary Art Faculty Show @ Art Alliance of Monmouth County

2018 – Bedminster Chamber of Commerce, Two Person Exhibit with Doris Ettlinger

2018 – Tewksbury Historical Society, Oldwick, NJ

2018 – The 35th Ellaraslie Open, Trenton, NJ

2017 – Tewksbury Historical Society, Oldwick, NJ

2017 – Artsbridge 2017 Members Show, Prallsville Mill, Stockton, NJ

2017 – Center for Contemporary Art, Members Exhibition and Sale

2017 – 88th Juried Exhibi)on, Phillips Mill, NJ

2017 – The 34rd Ellaraslie Open, Trenton, NJ

2016 – 87th Juried Exhibition, Phillips Mill, NJ

2016 – The 33rd Ellaraslie Open, Trenton, NJ

2015 – 86th Juried Exhibi)on, Phillips Mill, NJ

2015 – New Hope Art League, Juried Show

2015 – Hunterdon Art Museum Members Exhibition, Clinton, NJ (Cats)

2015 – Stover Mill Gallery, 4th Annual Juried Exhibition, Erwinna, PA

2014 – Hunterdon Art Museum Members Exhibition, Clinton, NJ (Birds in a Bush)

2012 – Philadelphia Sketch Club, Philadelphia, PA

Honors and Awards

Abstract Painting Award, Tewksbury Historical, 2018

Abstract Painting Award, Tewksbury Historical, 2017

Abstract Painting Award, Phillips Mill, 2017

First Time Exhibiting Artist Award, Phillips Mill, 2015

Abstract Merit Award – New Hope Art League, New Hope PA, 2015

Member of Organizations

Center for Contemporary Art

Garden State Watercolor Society

Artist Interview