Written by Michelle Lesch

Trie Michaud, AKA Hugatrie, is a New Hampshire-based visual artist, teacher, and businesswoman. Her style and interests have evolved over the years from photography, to graphic design, to fluid art, to a culmination of it all. She uses her favorite music to inspire her creations, and wants to teach other people how to “Relax and Flow”. In 2019, Trie bought a pink bus, named her Ellie, and renovated it to provide a mobile teaching space. You can find her parked at local farmers markets and art galleries, and she also has the option to book the bus for private events. We recently caught up with Trie to learn more about her processes, her inspirations, and of course, her bus, Ellie.

How long have you been practicing fluid art? When did you decide to start teaching others?

I learned fluid art in 2017 with YouTube as my teacher during the winter months. By the new year, I had already had a collection of paintings because it’s very addictive. I started teaching others about a year later. I saw a post for my local farmers market looking for an artist to demonstrate. I was kind of nervous, but I responded. I was scared to talk in front of people, but I had family that came out and that made me feel less nervous.

After the farmers market, the coordinator asked if I’d be available again. She said I was the first artist spotlight to have so many interested kids and adults. I think that was the day I got a boost of confidence. To see people walking into it self-consciously, and watch them create something beautiful… I find it so rewarding.

A fluid art lesson on the bus.

It’s clear from your social media and a lot of your work that Twiddle is a big inspiration. What makes Twiddle so inspiring to you?

I love the positivity of Twiddle lyrics. They inspire me daily to be the person I am: thoughtful, generous, loving. I think I always was those, but for those around me at the time, I was too happy and too huggy [sic]. This family gets me and I hope I can make others feel just as important and loved as I do.

My husband brought me to my first music festival, Gathering of the Vibes, in 2014. That’s where I first heard Twiddle at 11am on the main stage. I remember the crowd going crazy and I felt such a warmth from everyone that day. I knew I had found my family.

I still remember advice that Ryan Dempsey gave me one time. “Just ride the wave,” he said. I remember that always when I ask myself, “Should I be doing this?”

A recent painting by Hugatrie.

What other inspirations do you use when you’re creating?

Nature inspires me. Other artists inspire me. I listen to a lot of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Keller Williams, Funky Dawgs and Mama Kin. I like to listen while I’m creating my painted pieces.

Your bus, Ellie, used to be a mobile record shop. Tell us about the renovations that you had to do to your bus to turn it into a teaching space?

Honestly, I didn’t have to do too much… it was made for me. Even the previous owner knew. I told him what I wanted to do and he sold it to me. He had put a lot of work into it and the fact that I wasn’t going to rip it all down… that helped him decide to sell it to me.

My husband, Johnny, and I had never done a construction project together, so it was a nice bonding moment with my husband of 16 years. We did what we could with adding bar stools, storage, and some other things. When we needed help, our friend Stephen came to the rescue. He’s an amazing soul. I could go on and on about him. Stephen helped get the counters lined up, and I added the lighting. There are still a few finishing touches I’d like to do someday.

The interior of Ellie, the Relax & Flow bus.

If you had all the money in the world to pour into your business, where would you take it? What would you do with it?

If I had the money to pour (pun intended!) into my paint bus and my art, I would first get my bus wrapped with my own graphics. I’d travel the country going to every state doing pop-up paint parties and art galleries. I would partner with Girls, Inc. because they helped me when I was growing up. I’d like to help little girls and inspire them, whether they want to own their own business one day, or pursue their art. I would just travel and try to spread love relentlessly one hug at a time.

A painting by Hugatrie.

What was the most fun group or event you’ve had on your party bus?

Actually, it was my husband and I. We spent some quality time painting together. We listened to Twiddle, of course, and it was at night so we had all the LED lights flashing, in true party fashion. It was so fun to teach him what I love doing, and he was so proud of his painting. He tells everyone about it, especially men who have reservations about trying it.

That’s really my intent with teaching on my bus is to get people to take some time out, get creative, let it go and let it flow.

Ellie’s ready for a party.

What are some key things that you tell people to remember when they’re creating fluid art?

Pick contrasting colors. Breathe while you’re mixing your paints. Think happy thoughts while you’re pouring, and let all that negativity go. Be proud of what you’ve created!