What I have learned from David Milne, Painter.

By Christine Girard


There are several artists from whom I draw inspiration and learn. Picasso, Monet, Kandinsky, Miró… In 2018, I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario where I discovered David Milne, a Canadian artist who now has a permanent exhibition at the AGO. I was so emotionally taken by his work, I had to read more about this man who created, with so few colours and simplicity,such strong emotions.

With very little time to explore all that is offered of Milne at the gallery, I left with in hand the book by James King – Inner Places, The life of David Milne which I only began reading in the spring of 2019 (part of my artist family tree study through an art course given by Carrie Brummer of www.artiststrong.com).

My artist tree contains artists that speak to me through their art. Needless to say, Milne came high on my list after I literally began crying pure emotion from the beauty of his work.

Hence, way after the man has walked this earth, his work goes on! This is amazing and I can learn from him because he not only left images, he also wrote a great deal. 

So I began reading about Milne’s life and listening to the whispers it provided me.

Milne expatriated to the states to learn art but was very disappointed of the school he joined « The League » in that it did not explore outside the box, which he later found with the Chase School (now the New-York School of Art). It is at that time that he was introduced to great spiritual thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau, amongst others. He was also inspired to incorporate  abstract elements into his work after attending 291. He worked very hard to make it as an artist throughout his life and it was a very difficult road to travel. 

What I have learned from David Milne is to follow my creative wisdom, be free, learn but not forget my inner places. Make my own art. Connect with what I love. Learn its wisdom. Incorporate my spirituality into my art. Just as he did. 

Impressionnist photograph by Christine Girard

And so I began studying his art, sketching trees, leaves, loosely, as he would, trying to feel his movements. Nature is the main subject of my photography, whether it be abstract or realistic, hence I felt this connection, I understood the sacredness of being one with nature. But how would this inspire me further into my work? 

David Milne gave me freedom to create, inspiring me to follow my own path and create outside the box. 

As I let all this sink in, I began drawing digitally to unwind. I felt the need for music. Music is always present when I create, this time, as I picked up the earphone, Handel’s Messiah was on my screen. I had not listened to Handel’s music for such a long time, but there it was on my iPad screen. Coincidence… So I began to listen to the Messiah, and to let it guide my pen, as freely as could be. 

I also randomly chose the colours and was inspired to look their meaning after listening to a podcast by Carrie Brummerwith Lora Frost.How surprised was I to discover the main colours symbolized, to name a few, imagination, the future, dreams, spirituality calming, sky and sea, open spaces, freedom, intuition, inspiration, sensitivity, wisdom, meaning of depths, clarity, joy. Exactly what this study of David Milne inspired me to trust: my freedom, intuition, dreams, my own path, my own way into my art. And so, I drew these pieces.  Inspired by nature, freedom, intuition, trust. Studying grand artists, being open to intuitive teaching and letting go. 


To see more from this series, click here


What a joy to let oneself be inspired by grand artists, innovative, forward thinking, slightly marginal. I continue this study of David Milne, now searching who inspired his work. 


Click here to read about my preliminary study of Picasso.


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