My interest in painting began without any direct exposure to the fine arts. I sketched before I could read, imitating Snoopy and Charlie Brown cartoons. At the age of 10, I saw a television commercial for an art university and jotted down the telephone number. Being an only child, I had already developed a very independent nature, so I called the University and gave them my address. When the package arrived, I immediately filled out the application and submitted it along with my drawings. Once mailed, it was completely forgotten. Months later, I received the news that I had been accepted. I jumped for joy! Needless to say, my mother was not amused. It never dawned on me that I was too young; all I cared about was becoming a real artist.
As I got older, my mother, a single mom, believed I needed to be practical and take classes that would financially support me later in life. I complied but never gave up being creative. I felt starved for art while raising my daughters. At the age of 28, a friend recognizing my pain introduced me to watercolor. The immediate experience with the clean, beautiful pigments of watercolors shaped my art for many years. Growing up in West Texas, I didn’t get to see much color – except brown. My environment influenced my initial style, so western scenes and landscapes constituted my earliest works. Such famous artists as Zoltan Szabo, Carl Dalio, Tom Lynch, Warren Taylor, and Linda Doll gave me a great education helping foster my creative process.
I believe education is vital and I am happy that my children were able to receive a college education. My education, however, came in a different form, I became a serial entrepreneur. Five successful businesses under my belt all incorporating design helped ease my creative drive. Still, it was not enough.
The decision to devote myself full-time to painting was an easy one as I continued to win competitions and sell my work. To my dismay, in 2002 my art took the backseat again. Divorce, a new city, a new business, and establishing friends and networks became my focus. It was an exciting but scary time of personal growth. Moving from small town, Texas to Dallas made me a little fish in a big pond and it felt like I was constantly swimming upstream. Painting kept me alive and centered, and success in business followed.
My design businesses kept me engaged but left me with little energy for much else in my life. However, in 2013 I was fortunate to be able to sell and leave those businesses to devote myself full-time to nothing but painting and the business of being an artist. At this point, I decided to change my medium to oils. Historical artists to whom I admire (Renoir, Monet, Manet and Van Gogh) used watercolor for studies but it was oil colors in their final interpretation and most timeless pieces. Watercolor has a reputation for being one of the hardest mediums and very different from oil. But, I have not found this to be the case. Conceptually they are basically the same. Both have the same color properties in transparency, semi-transparency, and opacity. And, the use of design and composition are elements of both. Each requires patience and planning. One of the essential elements I like about watercolor is to let it blend and run where it wants with little encouragement. Oils require patience, as well, to keep colors clean, to create strong, deliberate brushstrokes, and to allow time for the paint to dry. Gesso, mediums, and varnishes can be challenging if using them with oil, and that’s where the differences lie. I fell in love with oils the first time I painted with them. The buttery texture is that of velvet meeting beautiful satin and dancing the tango. A wild affair begins as my imagination mingles with them on the canvas. My constant personal challenge is pushing the envelope to create a composition better than the one before.
2016 was a difficult year for me physically. I had two major surgeries for degenerative bone disease in my hands requiring both thumb joints be removed. A total of eight months in casts and splints slowed me down but didn’t dampen my artistic thirst. I dream while I am awake and paint in my sleep. Those dreams have become an ongoing series of Dreamscapes. This body of work has been juried into many shows and exhibits over the last four years.
As an active member of my community, I support the arts in Dallas and surrounding cities in different capacities: on the Board of Directors for the Texas Visual Arts Association (TVAA), as a member of the Visual Arts Guild Frisco (VAGF) and the Cooperative Venue for Creatives (The Cove), in McKinney, Texas, and a Gold Sponsor for the Frisco Association for the Arts and I have curated and produced exhibitions in Dallas and other communities in Texas.
Imagination makes it possible to experience a whole world inside the mind. It gives the ability to look at any situation from a different point of view, and to mentally explore the past and the future. Through my work, I hope to inspire you to capture the imagination. Imagination is the soil that brings dreams to life.
My friend and soulmate Claude Monet who, although dead in this world is alive in my heart, said you need three things to be a painter: an iron will, the ability to work like a locomotive, and indifference to everything but the canvas. These traits I possess in abundance.
Be inspired to CAPTURE THE IMAGINATION as “Milessa”, a modern impressionist oil painter, creates visible thinking and encourages the imagination with colorful humor. Imagination makes it possible to experience a whole world inside the mind. It gives the ability to look at any situation from a different point of view, and to mentally explore the past and the future. Imagination is the soil that brings dreams to life. Come visit her fun and quirky art at ArtExpoNYC booth S101, Pier 94 April 23-26, 2020.