For Vermont Artist Gary Milek painting has always been part of his life. As a child he knew that he wanted to be a professional artist. Born in 1941 into a farming family in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Gary has retained his farming roots. He now lives in Windsor, Vermont, where he and his wife, Sarah, a nationally known gardener and herbalist, established Cider Hill Gardens & Gallery.
At a young age he began studying art at the Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, and received an art scholarship to Syracuse University. He attended the Boston Museum School of Art and obtained a grant to study painting in Holland at Rijks Academy, at the famed Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the largest museum in the Netherlands. It was there that he became acquainted with the 15th century techniques of preparing gesso panels, egg tempera mediums, and guilding with gold leaf.
After two years in Amsterdam spent studying and copying the works of the old master painters, Milek returned to New York City during the 1960’s – a time when abstract art was at its peak and most artists were painting in imitation of the New York School. Influenced by these trends, he painted in oils in the expressionist style, but unfulfilled, he returned to nature for his inspiration and themes. It was at that point in his career that he chose egg tempera as his medium and moved to northern New England to paint his passion. Milek taught drawing and painting at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, for seventeen years before retiring to paint full time from his studio in Windsor, Vermont.
Unlike many of today’s artists, Milek does not rely on photographs, preferring instead to work from sketches. He takes his drawing materials into the field, be it to their extensive flower and herb gardens at Cider Hill Gardens, or the old apple orchard on their property, surrounded by gnarled trees and dense woods, or to the pastoral landscapes that distinguish his work. He then paints watercolors based on the sketches, which are sometimes finished paintings in themselves. These “notes in watercolor”, as he terms them, are the basis for later egg tempera paintings.
Gary Milek has lived his commitment, becoming a family supporting artist, and earning the respect of artists and collectors nationwide for his intimate and detailed landscapes in egg tempera, including the use of gold leaf, and watercolors of flowers.
His work has been exhibited throughout New England, in New York City, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., Colorado, and California–at such prestigious galleries as the National Academy of Design and Wunderlich & Company in NYC, the Copley Society of Boston, The Saks Galleries in Denver, Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, and Saint-Gaudens in Cornish, New Hampshire.