by Zoe Morrison
The dream took hold in 3rd grade when Michael Dora won an award for drawing at that tender age. The possibility of becoming an artist became a reality, inspiring Michael to pursue the idea throughout his elementary and high school career, where he wound up graduating with an art major from High School.
A native Californian, Michael attended college at Cal State Fullerton briefly but found himself distracted from his goal of working as an artist. So in 1966 he joined the Army, serving as a Medic and travelling the world, including a tour to Vietnam.
Life calls: after leaving the Army, Michael contemplated careers, eventually settling on the detailed work that insurance provided. (Little did he know the impact all that detailed work would have later when he decided to revisit his muse.)
The SAIF company called and he moved to Oregon in 1981 where he worked until 1990. He also had his own agency, with a focus on high risk auto insurance. This work kept him very busy, proving to be so lucrative he was able to retire in 1991 at the age of 54.
At that point, Michael decided to dust off his artistic muse. He hadn’t picked up a pencil, charcoal or paintbrush for 44 years.
Inspired by a photograph he had taken of his wife Betty, he decided to see how rusty his creative muse had become. He found himself pleasantly surprised, realizing that his life experiences, though taking him away from his artistic pursuits had informed his skill level. He was encouraged by how well this first re-introduction to his creativity turned out!
From this point forward, Michael continued to hone his skills, learning more than he had ever dreamed possible. He was able to devote his entire focus to the art work in front of him and his concentration took center stage.
He has a masterful eye and has on occasion, shown his work at the Keizer Art Association and taken awards for his stunning body of work.
Looking though his catalog is similar to a dive into the depths of a gorgeous black and white photograph. The subject reigns supreme, with every minute detail perfectly placed and given exact attention.
Oftentimes he will work from stills he captures while watching old films. His office is a gallery and tribute to old time stars whose charisma shines through in every detail of Michael’s work. Yet there is more: a baseball mitt and ball realistically jump off the canvas. Bedouin travelers faces, marked from years travelling the desert invite a deeper look.
A recently completed piece, Paul Newman contemplating from behind a coffee cup invites you to spend time noticing the shadow and light. You will feel like you are reaching into the nuance of this scene where Newman is center stage:
Look for Michael’s work hung to the right of the reception area. He changes his elegant displays fairly frequently and if you are lucky, you will have a few minutes to talk to this talented artist about his artistic muse. You yourself may be inspired to take a page from this artists playbook and revisit a forgotten dream.