May 2010 issue
Columbus artist Michael Boudreault creates beautiful murals and other decorative embellishments for homeowners, and pays it forward with work for worthy causes.
When NFL Carolina Panthers Head Coach John Fox wanted personalized murals throughout his multi-million-dollar mansion, he called Ohio artist Michael Boudreault. When HGTV star Vern Yip needed to create major drama for a home makeover on the small screen, he tapped Boudreault, as well. And when famed NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson wanted a one-of-a-kind custom decorative finish on his kitchen island, Boudreault was the man.
The former middle school art teacher has built a reputation for creating truly unusual and impressive residential artistic treatments. But it’s not all glitter and glamour for this unique decorative artist. He works on smaller jobs as well, and he gives back, donating his talents to a multitude of worthy causes.
From a studio tucked away in the basement of his home in the Columbus suburb of Worthington, Boudreault creates fantastical images that end up on everything from cavernous coffered ceilings to delicate dining chairs. Shortly after launching his decorative-arts career, Boudreault met two high-end interior designers who were doing a lot of work in celebrity homes. His talents were tapped for the home of NBA star Kendall Gill. Word spread like oil paint on slick gesso and Boudreault became the go-to guy for decorative painting in the most discerning homeowners’ residences.
In one sprawling home, he painted a 1950s diner with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and other mid-century notables. Another couple hired him to embellish a dramatic twisting staircase with scenes from their native Cuba. Still another family commissioned him to paint their son’s room with a mural of BMX bike jumping competitions. Lie down on 8-year-old John Hunter’s bed, and it appears with startling reality that a mud-crusted BMX racing bike is soaring overhead.
Boudreault graduated from Florida State University in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in art education and a concentration in painting and ceramics. In 1995, he was working as a junior high art teacher in North Carolina when he took a group of students to Europe to experience Italian masterpieces firsthand. While wandering Florence’s Accademia di Belle Arti and standing before Michelangelo’s “David,” Boudreault had an awakening.
“I was struck by the incredible perspective of the trompe l’oeil in Italy’s friezes,” he explains. “I realized that I just wanted to raise decorative painting in the States to the level of what I’d seen in Europe.”
Boudreault carefully studied how light and shadow create depth, texture, age and movement. In an era when rudimentary sponge painting and phony faux finishes were sweeping across the walls of American homes, he longed to bring those Old World qualities to U.S. homes. That year, he left teaching to open Boudreault Studios and concentrate on creating his own masterpieces for clients. Five years ago he moved to Columbus, where his wife had accepted a teaching position. From central Ohio, Boudreault travels to locations around the country to paint designs for discerning homeowners and other clients.
Beyond creating commissioned works, Boudreault shares his talents generously. He’s painted murals gratis at St. Vincent Family Centers in Columbus and at Worthington Estates Elementary School. He has donated everything from art lessons to painted panels, helping raise money for myriad causes.
During an appearance at the BEST of Fall Home Show in Columbus, HGTV’s “Deserving Design” star Vern Yip discovered Boudreault’s talent. Yip was so impressed that he asked Boudreault to create a mural for a “Deserving Design” episode. The show aired nationally on HGTV throughout 2009. That appearance led to one of Boudreault’s finest donated projects becoming the poster child for serendipity.
Upon returning from taping “Deserving Design” in California, Boudreault called to thank the woman who introduced him to Yip.
“I offered to do something to pay her back,” Boudreault says. “I just wanted to thank her for getting me into the national spotlight. Minutes after we hung up, she called back to outline how I could repay her kindness.”
A friend of hers who had been diagnosed with breast cancer had stopped to visit during the call with Boudreault, lamenting the dreariness of the oncology center where she would receive chemotherapy treatments. The three concluded that an uplifting mural might be just the thing at Columbus Oncology and Hematology Associates to brighten the space. Today, a glowing tree of life mural inspires cancer patients. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people battling the disease will enjoy the gift of an artist they will never know.
While he calls it his most rewarding project, the oncology center is a far cry from some of Boudreault’s other assignments. His ornamental ceiling panels float over the stateroom of a 157-foot, mega-million-dollar yacht docked off the coast of New Orleans. Another 161-foot yacht in Rhode Island boasts panels he painted in the pilot house and in the grand salon.
Boudreault is often called back again and again to the same home; in fact, some homeowners have become collectors of sorts of his work.
Mary Turner has kept Boudreault painting faux treatments at her sprawling Shelby, North Carolina, residence off and on for years. His work there is so prolific and his visits to the Turner home so frequent that she’s dubbed it “The House that Michael Painted.”
“Michael has a God-given talent,” Turner says. “I am so blessed to look at his work every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed,” she says of the elegant Baroque putti, shells and flower-filled urns that dance across her bedroom ceiling. “When I tell people ‘Michael painted that,’ they think I mean Michelangelo. His work is that good. It brings great joy to me — and to everyone who visits here.”
One of the Buckeye State’s premier builders, Ralph Fallon, agrees that Boudreault was born with extraordinary talent.
“He offers a very unusual combination of forces,” Fallon observes. “He possesses an incredible technical understanding of faux finishes and architectural elements, combined with an artistic skill you rarely see.”
Fifteen years ago, Ohioan Michael Boudreault took a handful of school kids to Italy to study art and find creative inspiration. Ironically, it was he himself who came away inspired to begin creating the dazzling Old World beauty that now graces interiors from Columbus to Charlotte to San Francisco.
For details, call 614/940-4176 or visit michaelboudreault.com.