Member Spotlight: Michael Rohlf
My siblings and I were very fortunate to have parents that encourage us to be creative in all the arts as we were growing up. Both of my parents were very active in the performing arts in my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My father was a tenor who performed with the Fulton Opera Company in the Fulton Opera House that was built in 1852. It is a National Historic Landmark and is the oldest working theatre in the United States. My mother was a member of the crew of craftsmen and painters who worked on the set designs for each opera performance. When I was in middle school, I would accompany my parents to the workshop and pick up a paint brush to help paint the backdrops which were a work of art. When I reached high school, I was designated as the stage designer for the school musicals. Art was truly in my DNA after all these experiences! I still use some of the painting techniques I learned from painting the stage backdrops in my large acrylic landscapes. After high school, I decided to pursue a career in Art Education. I hold BA/BS degrees in the Arts and Education having studied at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and at Millersville University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Ronald Sykes. My area of interest at Millersville University was jewelry design. When I graduated, I taught art history and jewelry design in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I was a member of the Society of Jewelry Historians and gave lectures on Antique and Period Jewelry. After teaching, my career path took me in the direction of becoming a buyer of Antique and Estate Jewelry for Macys and Bailey, Banks and Biddle Jewelers.
The artist that I found the most inspiring when I was studying American artists was Maxfield Parrish. He was an artist who was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1870. His best-known works were the illustrations for the covers of LIFE Magazine. He was the most popular artist of post-World World War I America. He created photographic surrealism with incredible illumination of color and use of white space. I try to incorporate the layering of colors to create the illumination that was similar in his works. I’m always taking photos of places that inspire me to use for future works of art. I make notes of the values and the lighting at the time to make sure I capture the reason I was inspired at that time. My wife and I enjoy traveling to Europe and Tuscany and Pisa are our top destinations in Italy. I have a cousin who lives in Pisa, so we always have quality time to study the beautiful landscape in that part of Italy that inspires some of my work. It may be as simple as a doorway or a pathway to the beach that inspires me to paint.
After retiring from Neiman Marcus in 2020, my wife and I moved to Rockwall. We have 3 sons and 11 grandkids, so after retirement, the plan was to move here to be closer to family. Besides my art, I stay very busy these days as the Co-Publisher for the Rockwall Neighbors Magazine and also serves as the Program Chairman for the Rockwall Rotary Club. I’m also involved with several local charities. Above all, my priority is to plan art lessons in my home studio with the grandkids when they come visit for the weekend. I hope to inspire them at an early age like I was inspired by my parents!
I work primarily in watercolor, acrylics and pencil and have exhibited in group and solo shows regionally and nationally. I also have done commission pieces on request.
I believe it’s an artist vision to create works of art that capture the imagination as well as capture those special moments we experience in life.