Painting:  How The Light Gets In, a landscape from my mind.

I was thinking of Leonard Cohen's quote when I finished it:

"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." 

     Sometimes the magic of making art leaps across my times, emerging like recognition crossing favorite metaphors. 

    When I was young I admired the art of my father, so I attempted to become proficient in all the traditional media that he used, like charcoal, conte crayon, pastels, gouache, watercolour and oil paints. Later we added acrylic paints to the list. This painting is in acrylic.

    I still go to traditional mediums as my comfort food, though I experimented with other  mediums that intrigued me. Whatever Medium I used,  mostly I followed a yearning that I literally felt somewhere above my stomach.

     I no longer think literally nor technically when  painting. Such concerns have become second nature to me over the years, like writing. Sometimes I have a vision of what I want, but it is a rough idea like a half remembered dream that intrigues me. I do not always know what will happen. I came to realize that it is the journey itself that is most important to me, and that I enjoy travelling to its outcome. People who have owned my art for a while have often told me that the journey becomes more apparent to them with time, saying things like, "I now see so many things in all of your art that I didn't notice at first." I find this very encouraging.


Artist Statement

Thank you all for enabling my life in art. As an artist the actual process of creating art is the realization of living relationships, of all sorts, rather than conscious contributions to artistic markets, or to academic nostalgia.  In hindsight I have come to understand that I make visual art of viewpoint relations, the real deal, the best of my life living among others, all reduced to its essence. My art is the mediation of such magic moments. As I present these to you, it is my fondest hope that they will also contribute some well-being to your life's relationships.

- A. M. Van Mil, November 2017


A Summarized Biography

     In 1950 I was born in Holland. My family immigrated to Canada in 1952.  I was originally taught classic painting technique by my father, a High School art teacher. I further studied art at the University of Guelph and the Ontario College of Art and Design.  Graduating during the 1970s, I first concentrated on Conceptual Art. Among other private art galleries, some of these artworks were shown at the National Gallery of Canada and The Art Gallery of Ontario.

     In 1980, I co-founded a commercial art company, which I named Architectural Dimensions, that was written up by New York magazine in 1986 as one of the top three architectural model making firms in the world.

     Selling my subsequent architectural technology companies in 1990, I again began making art full-time, painting in an eclectic style.  Some of these works have been shown in private and public galleries, as well as at the Musee Des Beaux-Arts, Montreal. During this time I also illustrated a children's book, called The Tiny Kite of Eddie Wing, authored by Maxine Trottier, and originally published by Kids Can Press, which won many story and illustration awards. I was also chosen by General Mills to do portraits of the Most Valuable Players, in action, of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team when they won the pennant for two consecutive years.

     After 1998, for seven years I occasionally painted artworks on stage, as a Performance Artist for an mixed-genre art group called Collaborations, in many live-theatre venues across Toronto, with many artists from other genres like the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. Later, I co-designed sets for three Canadian opera productions: Die Fledermaus in 2009, La Boheme in 2010, and Falstaff in 2011. 

     A variety of galleries presently exhibit my artworks in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.

    My adventures in art tend to be centred around the mediation of personal and cultural meanings.


Creative Play (with a bonus!)

Experience becoming an artist!

Become a professional  artist in three easy steps:
1. Take any real world object and put it on a podium. Permanently attach it in any way to a solid appropriately sized block of heavy material like stone, wood or metal, with nuts and bolts, glues and screws, welding, or whatever it takes to make the start of what can become a sculpture on a base.

2. Act out your feelings all over it on purpose. Take paints and collage materials of all sorts, mediums, gels, glues, sand, stones, buttons, fabrics, papers, strings, broken crockery, anything. With all these as a medium emote purposefully all over your object in paint and collage. Dollop mixed materials on comically, trickling sand and sticking in buttons. Fearfully stick in broken glass. Be very careful. Try every emotional expression you want on it, even deadpan methodical madness. Be naive, or a virtuoso. Caress some parts with colours blending lovingly, then throw paint at other parts in anger, or not. Hit it! Cut it... Truly express your emotional reactions with full acceptance of them. At some point you will get an idea of how this artwork can inspire others. Perfect that! When you are finished, sign it.

3. Learn to like it. Increase its value with some self esteem by considering editing it until you really do like it. Reduce it to its essence. Keep it for a few years to think about it if you must, or not. Edit it if you want, or don’t. When you like it, send it out into the world by selling it. Then you can officially call yourself a professional artist.

Bonus: you can make your next piece of art totally different.

Warning: once you make the next one the same, it is no longer art; it's work, and we all know what a repetitious experience work can be. Make a variation if you must, but be an artist in everything that you do.




How The Light Gets In, VanMil-Acrylic on canvas