When you think about young children, let’s say through ages six or seven years old, what percentage of them love to draw? Almost all of them! Generally speaking, drawing is a natural part of who we are.
Then things happen that change that. But some of us still continue.
Milford: And you know, this sounds a little crass, but I come more and more to it. And that is, I paint pictures because I still need to make a living.
We’ve got a little bank account, but it isn’t enough to say I can lie down on everything. I’ve got something pushing me. I get up in the morning and think I’d better finish that picture. Mixed in with that, of course, is the fact that I would want to finish it anyway.
My wife Pat and I have been so long together that if she wasn’t around, I don’t know whether I’d pick up a brush. I might, but it would be a test to find out whether I would or not. So I believe that you finally reach a point where you say it’s a necessity of life that I have to have. I believe I would have to have it.
The fact is, when you get up in the morning there are times when you have no particular desire to paint. You have to make it happen.
And I have literally. I would sometimes wake up in the morning and get a true desire, and hesitate because I didn’t feel quite up to it. I didn’t know if I were going to tackle it.
You mean you have sometimes a lack of self confidence?
Milford: Yeah, you do. I have an old painting out there, a sketch, and I get a vision of what I would like to have it come to, and then I get tired. I just consider what mental and physical energy I’m going to have to put out before the painting I can foresee comes out, and I choose an easier job. I pick up another drawing that I can do more easily. That’s a tendency I have to watch.
I have one last question, and this has to do with life. If you could repeat one life experience what would it be?
Milford: I’d travel more. Travel has been very, very important to me; it’s been almost the source of inspiration for my being a painter. And yet I didn’t press the issue of traveling when I probably could have. I always thought I couldn’t afford it, I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that. But if I’d pushed it, if I’d traveled two or three or four decades ago, it would have been very exciting, because now there a things that are spread all over the world. Things are pushed out of their uniqueness into the ordinary. You go to another country now and people dress the same; they listen to the same TV programs.
So they’re not as unique as they used to be.
Milford: You don’t get the real individual character of different races and different communities of people. That I regret.
The rest of the interview appears in the January/February 2008 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.