We are delighted to bring to you the sixth of this years series of interviews and the eighteenth of this fascinating series, within our Portrait of an Artist column entitled “Seeing through the eyes”. This is a section that has been created by our wonderful Portrait of an Artist Editor, Ile Mont. Mont has been inspired by the life and works of Carolyn Hall Young, as so many of us have. Young was the main contributor to our Portrait of an Artist Flickr pool and filled it with portraits of so many wonderful people, not only of herself. It is for this reason that Mont wanted to create this section, to enable us to view the artists style through their own eyes. At the end of each interview, Mont will keep Young’s tradition alive, with a portrait of herself, seen through the eyes of the artist. In this case, you will see that at the end of this interview there are portraits of Mont, seen through the eyes of Deborah McMillion, what a gift!
Please continue to post your mobile portraiture to our dedicated Flickr group or use this hashtag on Instagram #tawportraitofanartist, this way, Mont will search through these artists first to interview. (Foreword by Joanne Carter).
All images in this interview ©Deborah McMillion, with the final image a collaboration ©Ile Mont/Deborah McMillion
Would you like to introduce yourself?
I am Deborah McMillion born and spent most of my first 10 years in Virginia, moved to Arizona and as a near native, consider myself a “desert rat”. I’ve been drawing as long for as I can remember.
What does ‘being creative’ mean to you?
Using what is in my head out loud.
Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
We travelled coast to coast following dad’s Naval postings . We had a “Must travel in the car box full of coloured pencils, blank reams of paper, crayons, and carbon paper”. Wherever we went we didn’t need anything more than that”. Other kids had soft toys, books, dolls or blankets. How could they not have paper and colors?? I literally painted whole worlds on those papers. (I always carry a pretty 3×5 notebook, a tiny ballpoint and my iPhone with several mobile art apps helps keep me from drumming my fingers, marginalia in my books, or..?)
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
– is anyone else out there?
Why portraits and self portraits?
I don’t make them absolutely look like the intended. I call them symbolic portraits because they look enough and are in their own environment. While I love powerful landscapes I need the person to lend it scale and personality.
What do you think are the ups and downs about working with your own image?
I never get mad at myself or embarrassed for putting myself in some bizarre situation. And because it’s symbolic I can deny it’s me.
Is there an artwork you are most proud of?
Yes, it’s one oil I will never sell. Classic Surreal, three figures sit on a fence at the Bay of Cadaques, the same bay used in so many of Dali’s paintings especially my favorite: Forgotten Horizon. It is not particularly weird but, is it!
How do you know when a work is finished?
There is a kind of “snick” as if all the pieces in a tangram puzzle pulled together.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
When I painted in oils as soon as a series was finished I would clean up my desk, studio.put it all away and lock my desk.But now my studio is my iPad. So the ritual I have is print up or put together from other artists a new set of postcards for my vintage wall postcard rack? Something to inspire next series.
What inspires you?
Everything, things on TV, things that go by in the car, things that you misread, things people say out of context, autocorrects. Dreams. I have always kept a notebook, or rather a Commonplace book for quotes, lines, poetry, etc. all neatly copied. I keep another one for actual drawn ideas that get scribbled out and redone multiple times. I call that a working (inspiration) notebook. The kind you can tear pages from and in the end just recycle it.
What are your favorite tools and apps while creating?
iPad, Sketchbook, PhotoWizard, and ToonCamera Sketchbook is my imprinted app, PhotoWizard to fast cutout and lots of fast filters. ToonCamera binds them together to get an overall look. It doesnâ€™t necessarily stay.
What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
That old saw about doing something every single day?
What advice would you share with us
I like to put ideas of series, books into words . That way no matter when you read it it is there to re-visualise anew. If I do it as a drawing it locks it in for me, and it isn’t as flexible. I’ve come back to these written ideas over and over and sometimes they click into place and sometimes I can never visualize anything. That doesn’t mean there aren’t sketches. That’s in a virtual working notebook. I use bamboo paper because it is just informal enough but also has just enough colors, easy to use, etc. and no paper waste!
Thank you very much for your insight and time, Deborah!
I have been seen through the imaginative eyes of Deborah McMillion!
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