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Five questions with AHA! featured artist Patrick Milbourn

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Patrick Milbourn
Photo submitted

Patrick Milbourn, of the M Gallery in Catskill, started his career as an illustrator which segued into painting commissioned portraits and Hudson River Valley landscapes. He has lived in Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, California and Texas. He came to New York State to attend the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and, as he puts it, "pretty much stayed." He has a brother and sister and is married to his wife and mate Alyson.

Who are your influences?  My influences were varied. I absorbed a lot from where I’d been, perhaps not even realizing it – the Midwest with its monumental landscapes, muted colors, American Indian totem poles… and then the urban life of NYC. I was always drawing.  Being self-taught, my early education came from books, books, books - the great visual educator.  Then I found the Met, a dream place, moving from room to room with absolute amazement.  Standing in front of the world of art, like standing in front of the ocean and feeling so small.  How can one make a mark in art with so many luminaries? My favorites – Whistler, Degas, Murphy, Raleigh, Phil May, Shinn, Glackens – all beckoned from the wall.  Who couldn’t be inspired in NYC. I found odd jobs, odd personalities and odd experiences. All led to creating a portfolio, hitting the streets and hoping to be published as an illustrator.

Best advice for other artists?  Influences can be endless, which is a good thing. It’s important to know the history of art since what came before you is powerful. Never get complacent, never be satisfied, never just settle. Connect with the masters, connect with your environment, connect with people. Analyze and feel what you love and practice and practice more. 

What are your proudest accomplishments?  I’m most proud of surviving in the arts for almost four decades (and hopefully making an impact from time to time).  I found my first art assignment at 23 years old at Business Week. Freelancing was an unpredictable job, like working a trapeze without a net. It was not an easy gig – the editorial deadlines seemed impossible – many assignments due overnight.  But it did happen and I did what I loved as a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, Time Magazine, The New Yorker magazine, Random House, Ballantine Books and the like. All of these experiences – the caricatures and faces, in general - groomed my skills as a fine arts portrait painter. And I also fully appreciate the freedom and expression of painting landscapes. More proud stuff – Awarded “signature member” of the Pastel Society of America. Being selected for prestigious juried events such as The National Academy of Design and The American Academy of Arts and Letters. Winning national competitions judged by my peers. Being inducted into “Who’s Who in American Art”. (And being on AHA! was an absolute joy.)

What are you working on now?  I’m working on a much larger canvas. It’s exciting, and it’s a much different thought process – bolder, with reckless abandon (well…sometimes), and a sense of theatrics - with little attempt at pictorial representation.  

Favorite color? Grey, of course.

Learn more about Patrick Milbourn on AHA! A House for Arts.