Artists in Residence 2022

Heather Milliman, 02-23 May, 2022


"Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1970's and 80's, I quickly became aware of the beauty of the natural world. As a child, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the ocean, the shifting sands and constant mosaic of salt-drenched colors. When I was a very young teenager, I discovered the beauty of the chemical darkroom and the power that photography holds – the way it shifted my perception of the world was unequaled.


Once photography trained my eye, it opened up the worlds of sculpture, ceramics, art from found materials and mixed media, moving through each medium yet always returning to photography and painting for grounding. 


After studying Studio Art with a focus on sculpture from found materials at The University of Vermont, I went on to teach Art History and Photography before moving to Berkeley CA where I explored large scale mixed media pieces, often having private gallery showings and "happenings" at my apartment. Now back in New England, I’ve refocused my artistic efforts in the studio, shifting between collage works on paper and mixed media on canvas. I work in my studio every single day, constantly looking for new techniques or finding new vision

My works use a technique I call reductive finger painting. Each canvas loaded with color and then layer by layer, white paint (glazes, tints and shades) is placed on top of the color to slowly edit the unneeded visual information. I blend every color and layer with my fingertips, using brushes only on rare occasion. 


The main subject of the canvas - multiple washes of color - is comprised of layers of alcohol inks and clear enamel, which is integrated into the canvas as the color is reduced and white layers are added; so this is both a reductive (subtract color to leave white space) and additive (layer alcohol inks to build layers of color and light) process. 


My works on canvas capture a mood, a moment, a certain light as it hits the landscape – what the viewer sees beyond that is up to them. Residing solely on the interpretation of the viewer, my paintings are comprised of acrylic paint, ink and multiple layers of enamel; they glow from the inside, emitting a light and energy from a now long-gone moment in time.


All of my projects - collage, paintings - even my old sculptures and installation pieces - rely on the aesthetic fundamentals I learned through photography; framing, composition, shadow. I look to my life-long passion for photography as my North Star in all projects. In fact, many of my projects start out as photos and turn into something else along the way. 


By framing all of my work, past, present and future, within the eye of the photographer, I keep my vision shared equally amongst all my projects; I am the noticer of things.


My workplan while I am at Villa Casafredda is to capture how it feels to be within the Tuscan landscape at specific moments in time; the light, how the sun feels on the skin, the sound of wind or birds at 4:12 in the afternoon or just after sunrise. Just as I aim to capture the essence of a place in time with my current work, I would like to capture the essence of the countryside through large, abstract mixed media works on canvas".


Heather Milliman  


For more about the artist visit her website