Painting through a pandemic: Meet artist Michael Hubert

Mar 22, 2020

Dreamy landscapes and vivid abstracts in acrylic, lone figures clamming and boats under full sail — these are paintings from longtime Dartmouth resident Michael Hubert, who is making time for his art during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Hubert has been an artist almost as long as he can remember.

“I’ve always had this need to create things,” he said. “It’s kind of a spiritual thing. It’s just something that you need to do.”

Originally from central Massachusetts, Hubert moved to the area in 1969 to complete a fine arts degree at Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMass Dartmouth).

He draws inspiration for his paintings from the landscapes near his South Dartmouth home.

“We live in such a beautiful area, just driving around and walking around you’re constantly inspired by the landscapes that you see,” he noted, adding that he paints both outward landscapes “as well as abstract pieces exploring what you might call my inner landscape.”

All of Hubert’s artwork is expressive, reflecting the emotions he feels when viewing the world around him. 

“You respond to the color or the shapes that you see, and you try to put those in some sort of expressive arrangement,” he explained. “And hopefully, the people who look at the art will have some sort of an emotional response to it as well.”

And he’s managed to marry his passion for art with a passion for education.

With both his BFA and a Masters in Art Education, he and his wife Christine operate an arts-based independent school for early childhood education, the Dartmouth Early Learning Center on Gulf Road.

“Arts are kind of a language for children to express what they know of the world,” he said. “For the teachers it’s kind of a window into who they are, and how they construct their understanding of the world.”

Although currently closed due to the coronavirus, the school is offering online resources for its students to keep creating at home. Preschool activities are art focused, while the older children are completing more project-driven work. 

“There’s a lot to be said about power of the arts to get us through difficult times,” Hubert noted. “One of the side effects of this pandemic is that we all have more time for personal reflection. For me that includes more studio time.”

Hubert said that he was drawn to stay in Dartmouth due to the town’s natural beauty.

“We’re just constantly inspired by our surroundings,” he said. “It was a great place to raise our own children.”

He added that Dartmouth is “a great community” to live and work in, as both an educator and an artist.

And every year he takes part in the summer Art Drive, in which residents are invited to visit local artists’ studios in Dartmouth and Westport. 

Hubert said that organizers are not sure what impact the pandemic will have on this year’s event. They are currently discussing whether to postpone it until after August.

But no matter what happens, he will keep painting.

“When I first started painting I thought it was more of a factual reporting of the visual world,” he said. “I thought that was the goal of art. But over the years I've discovered that the process of painting is sort of freeing...My goal in painting is to not repeat myself. I’m trying to discover new things with each piece.”