Michael Graves began painting when he was in the fourth grade and worked at it all t hrough high school. When he graduated from Millbury High School in 1970 his art teacher obtained papers for him to join his first artist's group, the Blackstone Valley Art Association. He became president of the organization in 1978, which marked the beginning of Graves deep dedication to his craft.
Graves has always been interested in paint and color and considers himself primarily an outdoor painter or "plein air" painter. He spends as much time as he can working on location, in all kinds of weather. He never uses photographs. "I can't paint from them" he insists. "They represent a sixtieth of a second compared to the hours you spend on location observing the changes in the light and choosing which effect you want to use." Bernard Corey, a Grafton landscape artist whose work Graves admires, says "For landscape artists there's no comparison between painting from the real thing and from a photograph. One is life, the other isn't. It's like anything else. Would you rather see the Grand Canyon or a photograph of it?"
"Mike is a fine colorist." says Corey. "He's very good and very modest." Graves thinks of himself as a 'painter'. "Artist is a very important word" he says, "and I'm uncomfortable when anyone uses it in relation to me. I never use it. I just tell people that I'm a painter - even if that confuses them. They think I must paint houses. Artist applies only to the names in the museums, the creative people." Graves believes in the old saying: that art is long and life is short.
As Michael Graves reputation builds, he is in greater demand. He is a member of the Academic Artist Association, Rockport Art Association, North Shore Art Association, Hudson Valley Art Association and Blackstone Valley Art Association. He has won numerous awards including 1995 Grumbacher Gold Metal from New York's Salmagundi Club and a Silver Metal of Honor from Allied Artist of America 1995.
Michael has received recognition with his paintings for Arts for the Parks, which is a show created by the National Park Academy of the Arts in cooperation with the National Park Foundation. It is an annual, nationwide contest that chooses artists whose paintings capture the essence of the landscape, wildlife and history of the National Park System. Graves has placed in the top 100 in 1994 and 1997 also the top 200 in 1996. In 1998, he received an award at the gala opening reception in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Michael Graves work is included in the book, The Best of Oil Painting, published in 1996.