Clair Milanovich


Because I am fascinated with color

As a graphic designer, typographer, and photographer I worked with contrasts and hard edges most of my life. Any idea of painting never occurred to me over all those years. Then, a few years ago, a number of things happened more or less simultaneously.

This all occurred over a span of about four months. And, finally, almost without making any decision, I unboxed the watercolors I'd been buying (for absolutely no reason) over many years and began adding to them. Then every time I could afford it, I bought a brush, or another color. Finally, in April of 2009 I actually began to paint.

Sennelier soft pastels

I went after Vermont in color. A very different approach than that of my b/w Vermont photographs. After a couple of years I looked at what I was doing and realized that I had been steadily moving toward deep, intense color. I realized that I was trying to do with watercolor something it really wasn't meant for.

I next tried oils, a medium in which it was much easier to get more intense colors. In the middle of this I went to an exhibition which included an encaustic work. Though it wasn't highly colored, this particular piece appealed to the printer in my soul

I had never heard of encaustic before. Back home I began to read its history and to look at the modern revival it was enjoying. From my intaglio days I had several bags of good pigment powders.

I managed on the cheap to establish a serviceable encaustic studio. Comparing what I had spent with what commercially available equipment cost, I decidecx to write a small book for other "starving" artists.

Messing about with encaustics, thr images I created in that medium were quite akin to weaving -- and, as usual, I investigated -- and as usual-- I ended up working at weaving for almost FIVE years. Then, in the late fall of 2019, disaster struck. suffered an acute aortic dissection for which there is a 10% survival rate. I SURVIVED! Two weeks later I had a stroke. The stoke damaged three fingers on my left hand--could not feel threads and could not tie knots.

Counting myself extremely lucky for all sorts of reasons, I realized that if I could not weave, I could go back to painting. And I did. I fell in love all over again only this time I seemed to be more competent! Almost like I had learned to paint better in the last five years without ever touching a brush!

Almost immediately (June 2019) I stumbled across color pencils and became fascinated with the possibilities of that medium. And that has led to graphite, which has led to pastels.

And here we are at the start of 2020. Yesterday my Sennelier pastels arrived.

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