2012 after BIG

January 2012, a year after I joined, I made the tough decision to leave the Front Street Cooperative Gallery.
With many hours freed up, I began to research online for how to increase my livelihood as an artist. I stumbled upon an online teacher who teaches transformative art…not just the skills, but the deeper healing possibilities of creative expression. I couldn’t imagine how that was possible online
since I’ve been totally devoted to face to face mentoring of others in a sanctuary of beauty, imagination and nature.

I applied for a grant to take the class.  The grantor asked how the class would affect my artwork and I glibly replied:
It won’t!
I’ve got nearly twenty years under my belt and know mySelf well. I want to take the class so I can learn how to teach online.

Oh my goodness was I wrong!
Connie Hozvicka, the teacher, is half my age, a brilliant old soul and wise . She has an astonishingly loving and encouraging presence online. I recommend her Fearless Painting Classes unequivocally. Find her Dirty Footprints Studio here!  The class I took is called BIG.

You can read the chronicle of my entire process and see all the images that poured forth at my blog, The Wisdom of Not Knowing Everything. Click here if you’re interested and follow the posts from March through the beginning of May.

Here I’ll include just a few turning points and then show you the images that have followed since the class ended in mid-May.

From the start, getting on my hands and knees to paint with poster paint on large sheets of paper ( approx 30 x 40 ) was liberating: big movements, really getting into the swing of the whole arm, the sway and stretch of the whole body. I loved it. But the BIG turning point for me was being asked to paint like a kid again. Connie didn’t mean purposely making an image look childish,  like drawing a tree that really looks like a lollipop, but to paint purposely with the confidence of the young child who simply wants to express on paper. Some of us were never lucky enough to experience that freedom of expression as children but I could imagine it from watching my grandchildren draw and paint. So, given that trees are a frequent image for me and that I’d recently been immersed in pink cherry blossoms glowing against a blue sky and feeling overcome with wonder at their pink saturated color glowing in the pink setting sun on a downtown pink glowing pink street – well you get the drift – I had to try and capture the essence of that pink feeling.
Lo, I do believe I did it.

Another breakthrough came from being asked to paint a memory,
to zoom in closer and discover something new about the memory.
Again trees compel my memory bank and I chose to draw me as a kid climbing a willow during a thunder storm.
When I pressed my head against her trunk, I heard her groaning inside. Suddenly I knew she was a living being just as I was.
I had found a friend which was a huge gift to me as an only child.
As I threw myself into rendering my ear against the tree trunk, an epiphany flashed.
The tree was as animated and grateful for my presence as I was for hers.

What blows me away about these new images is that they are so full of movement and life.
That they are done with opaque, creamy poster paints is more remarkable still.
My devotion to the transparency of watercolor is weakening!

One of our last assignments was to paint large, really large, images of how it feels to be me.
To get our papers large enough, we had to tape three or four together. Imagine.
These two images are taller than I am.

In the Spring of 2012, two men near and dear to me died. So I had to paint how it was to be me grieving.
The one above is called Healing Grief.
Creating these images filled my soul and gave meaning to the losses. The one below is called The Blessing
The accompanying poem below describes the journey my son-in-law took.

The Blessing

an ancient tree simply falls,
an old rock wall crumbles,
a child’s tooth lets go.

a dam breaks and a valley floods,
a toddler stumbles,
an old deer simply folds
where she had stood at the end of a  driveway
in a surburban neighborhood.

three rainbows appear, bing, bing, bing,
their tripled presence an alarm of sorts.
I open the door, the phone rings,
and life, simply and irrevocably, turns.

a weary, valiant warrior
hears the whispered invitation
and simply says,
“ OK, I’m on my way.”

When the course finished in May 2012, I couldn’t wait to apply my new found freedom and confidence to art materials
that were more archivally sound. Poster paint, though I had fallen in love with its sensuous qualities, quickly flakes off the
large taped together papers, which don’t last long either. I had to try acrylic. The first one above is acrylic on a 30 x 40 Crescent watercolor board
by Strathmore.
The conclusion of Theodore Richard’s new book Cosmosophia – Cosmology, Mysticism and the Birth of a New Myth
reminded me of a dream I had in 2008 of being born to a welcoming earth. It had a profound impact which you can read about on
my blog. It will be featured in my forthcoming book, too.

The painting, called Earth Birth, is not framed. Purchase price is $1200. Contact me if you’re interested. PayPal is available!

I had a large Claybord still in my stash and that smooth, velvety surface called for my acrylic experimentation.
I vowed not to look at any photographs to help me paint the bear and the young woman on his back.
I wanted to paint from that place of inner vision, that place that expresses the deep sensibilities important to me.

Though this image could illustrate a child’s fairytale, it represents our failing urban civilization ( see the smoggy city near the setting sun?).
I wanted to express my belief that for life to continue thriving on earth
we need to explore new frontiers of interconnectedness – inner/outer, dark and light, rational/intuitive, kinship with all life,
whole brain/bodymind responsiveness. All the wisdom that’s been shown to me by the practice of Ecstatic Wisdom Postures.
Called Intrepid Together, it sold almost before the paint dried.

 Because of the BIG class, I’ve met Jeanie Anthony, an artist, healer who is also a singer/songwriter.
Wonder of wonders, she lives near Seattle, as do I.
Her music enchants me.
She came up with a project idea – painting intuitively to her songs and video-ing the images.
This has now become a video project for other Fearless Painters and birthed Jeanie’s new video.

Independently we both chose the same song as the one with which to begin. Track #13: Goddess, Woman, Tree.
I used acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40″, with the addition of a few Swarovski crystals in her ephemeral crown.
One particular line of the song grabbed me: Wrap your arms around me. . .Take my fears and wash them away.
The entire song vibrates with the motherly yearning to protect life,
or maybe that’s a projection of my own desire to protect all life on this fragile planet.

When I look at the image, I feel love for the entire planetary family of trees.
I feel the tree woman’s intensity as she reaches to protect her last precious hemlock child floating in a fragile bubble. Do you?

The original, Yearning Tree, is available $1500.
Prints and note cards, too. Click here for how to purchase.

This face captivates me. Especially the eyes. They rivet me.
The painting was done on brown wrapping paper, the biggest image yet, approximately 48 by 72.
Another tempera image released on paper to express my experience
of interconnectedness after I drummed for the group who was holding
a posture to celebrate Mid-summer’s eve day, 2012.

At last, an image has emerged that made me laugh out loud with satisfaction and adoration.
I love this ancestor woman.
I’ve been trying to accomplish something like this for about ten years!
Inspired by Victoria Reddick’s poem called “Bone Thrower”, I suddenly realized that my new found friendship
with acrylic might allow me to emulate Meinrad Craighead’s work after years of trying.
I’ve been drawn to her freedom of expression as well as the dark mysteries she renders.
My previous watercolor style somehow kept me from going where I wanted to go.
I even took a class to learn about charcoal and pigment powders
but with watercolor I couldn’t get the effect I wanted.

But now, acrylics have liberated me.

Bone Thrower is painted on an 18″ x 36″ Claybord with a one inch cradle. Framed in a gold “float” frame with maroon “leather” mat behind her, Bone Thrower is riveting. She was juried by Alfredo Arreguin ( www.lindahodgesgallery.com ) into the 2013 Washington State Art Exhibition sponsored by the Collective Visions Gallery in Bremerton.
I’m proud to say she was given a spot in the front window…and has now just been SOLD! ( July 2014 )

Before my life started unraveling, I painted another acrylic on canvas using some of my watercolor layering techniques for the green skirt and pigment powders in the background. I love the love. It accurately illustrates my longing to protect the beauty and rich diversity of our planetary home. She’s called I Wish I Could and was purchased off my bedroom wall by a visiting friend from Missoula. Thank you L.E.

I Wish I Could


6 thoughts on “2012 after BIG

    • Thank you Carolyn for making time to look at my work. I think we may paint for similar reasons, perhaps from the same vantage point.
      I have a blog as well where I have chronicled my process in Connie Hozvicka’s classes. http://deborahmilton.com.
      I’d love to put a link in my “blogroll” to your provocative website if you’d give me permission. I am so grateful to Women’s Sacred Art!

  1. Dear Deborah- I’ve often thought of you since we met at the Study of Myth and recently came across your wonderful newsletter and the image of the Bone Thrower, which inspired me to take a look at the rest of your art. Fantastic. I especially love “Intrepid Together.” I don’t have anything specific in mind at the moment but wonder if it would be okay for me to post any of your images on my blog–with attribution and a link to your site of course–in the future? Thank you so much for what you bring into the world.

    • A resounding YES to using my images and a big fat DITTO about thinking of you often since Study of Myth, also. The months intervening for me have been nothing short of an ODYSSEY and I’m emerging from the arduousness with greater clarity and efficiency – hopefully. Will try to connect via email. In the meantime, thank you so much for looking at my art and affirming my life’s offerings.

  2. Ah Deborah, I have finally visited your sites 🙂
    Your beautiful images and words still my mind, fill my soul with awe and bring such grace to my life.
    Thank you, to share circle with you is so enriching love, love

    • Michelle, Thank you for making time to explore my world. I have been graced by your comment here as well as your sharing in our circle. I sense we are kindred souls and I am grateful every time I see your name pop up. I look forward to learning more about you, hearing more of your perspective, seeing your art. All rich, all good…

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