Patrick Milbourn started painting at the age of five. Though he has no formal training, Milbourn considers the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which he did not visit until he was in his 20s) and his large collection of magazine illustrations from the 1860s through the 1940s to have been invaluable teaching tools. After moving to New York City from his native Kansas, Milbourn began his career as an artist illustrating for magazines, including the New Yorker, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and GQ, among other publications.
Last year, Milbourn and his wife Alyson opened M Gallery on Main Street in Catskill in a storefront beneath his painting studio after a year-long renovation of the space. Several of Milbourn's recent works are on view in "Winter Blast," a group show that runs at M Gallery through the end of January.
Milbourn is not interested in portraiture as a process of airbrushing for longevity, or rendering beautiful models in bucolic settings; he searches out models with unique features and faces with interesting shapes. Most of the works in last year's "American Tonalism" show were painted from studies of non-comissioned models; sometimes Milbourn brings people right in off the street to pose for him. (Many of Milbourn's portraits are painted on commission.)
"I like faces with character," Milbourn told Catskill Mountain Region Guide in 2002. "If a person has big ears or a lazy eye, I'll put it in. I find that much more interesting than a conventionally pretty person. The models are very important to me. If they're interesting or odd, I know I can create the shapes I need and get more and more excited about what I'm doing."
Milbourn's portraits possess an edgy quality that moves beyond simple mimesis into expressionism. It's no surprise that he counts William Bouguereau and Jean-Auguste Ingres as significant influences. Milbourn has been received recognition for his painting from the National Academy of Art, the Pastel Society of America, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
"Winter Blast" is at M Gallery, 350 Main St., Catskill, through January 31.
(518) 943-0380; www.mgallery-online.com
Growing up in Queens, Carolita Johnson was oblivious to everything. Politics existed in the periphery, and drawing was a hobby best executed in Bic pen on computer paper. Now she's a cartoonist who regularly publishes in the New Yorker.