I have painted for over 40 years and it is, quite simply, an essential part of who I am. I discovered painting at an early age and, through the years, have witnessed my own evolution towards happiness as I trusted my feelings and instinct to paint from the depths of my being. Through my painting, I reach out to the world with the knowledge that life can be both a joy and a source of creativity.
My artwork evolves, emerging from abstract thought to emotions represented through color, form and vibrational color relationships. While I frequently use colors that vibrate at the same frequency, I often use as many different colors as I possibly can without creating chaos. Color or colors are closely linked to our emotions and it is my goal to take you, the viewer, on an individual journey with each piece, as you awaken to whatever emotion or set of emotions are stirred within as you experience a painting. Of course, I realize that what I see as joy or happiness may well be something entirely different for a viewer, but it’s this very process that makes it possible for each of us to give individual meaning to our experience of art.
Jean Milu Truesdale was born in South Texas, where he started to paint at the age of 7, after his mother gifted him two canvasses and a beginner’s set of oil paints. This helped to launch what was to become a career and life-long love affair with painting.
As his first mentor and teacher, K.K. Simpson, nurtured Jean Milu’s talent by providing the training, encouragement and inspiration for him to continue painting. It was from Simpson that he first learned of the Old Masters’ technique of underpainting and understood that he could use light, reflecting through layers of glazes, to produce desired effects. When Jean Milu won his first award and Honorable Mention at an art show, he realized that although pleased by the public acknowledgment, he felt like he still had much to learn as an artist.
Shortly thereafter, a gallery-owner in Texas introduced Jean Milu to Sergei Bongart, a Ukrainian- born colorist who would go on to become a mentor and have a profound impact on his life. Bongart’s style, loose, bright and full of color, expressed a power and emotion which thoroughly captivated Jean Milu. He began his studies with Bongart and Bongart encouraged him to embark on a path of self-education and travel in order to find his own “voice.” At one point, in an offhand comment, Bongart implored Jean Milu to “Go! Surround yourself with great art or you will begin to accept the mediocre!” Catapulted into action, he booked a one-way ticket to Paris, taking his then life savings of $500, eager to see the work of artists hanging in European museums.
In Paris, Jean Milu felt at home as he explored streets, parks, neighborhoods and museums. He was fascinated by the Impressionists and their unbridled use of color. He spent hours in the Louvre and other museums. It was at the Jeu de Paumes that he finally understood how Monet used a dry brush technique in his painting. He thought he’d found his home in Paris, but, while standing in line for an Impressionist Show at the Grand Palais, he met two artists who invited him to visit Provence. Lured by the promise of studio space, sunshine, fields of poppies, sunflowers and lavender, Jean Milu left Paris to explore Southern France.
Following in the footsteps of Van Gogh, he walked through fields and villages painting Plein Air as he went. Supporting himself by selling his work and doing odd jobs, he continued to paint primarily landscapes as he explored Provence, then Tuscany and Umbria while also visiting museums in Milan, Florence, Rome and, subsequently Barcelona. At every point, he continued to study the work of various artists, analyzing their use of color, form, perspective, brushstrokes, texture, subject and materials.
In the early 1990’s, Jean Milu returned to the United States, adopting New Mexico as his new home. He sold what work he had remaining from his time spent in Europe. In 1999, eager to see British Columbia, he moved for a brief time to Vancouver, Canada. While in Vancouver, he was invited to explore the burgeoning art scene in Berlin, Germany and he went on to spend the next 8 years living in Berlin. It was during this period in Germany that he first began to do abstract painting. Jean Milu had several shows in Germany, but, in 2006 he made the decision to return to the U.S., first with a move to San Francisco, California followed by a relocation to New Mexico. Today, he resides in New Mexico where he continues to paint primarily landscapes.
For many years, I worked as a gardener to support myself as I painted. It was there, among the plants, when noise disappeared, that I could watch shadows move in time with the sun, creating abstract compositions. When I traveled to cities, streets became my streams; train stations, pensions and cafes became my islands as I lost myself in the white noise of not understanding a language. Regardless of where I traveled, I always drew my inspiration from nature. As I have wandered through fields, valleys and mountains in Provence, Tuscany, Spain, British Columbia, Germany and New Mexico, I have always been awed by the beauty in nature. I have also witnessed it disappearing as fields are turned into housing projects in some places, or, in others, once land-bound soil has been washed into rising seas. Once wild or fertile land has drifted out to sea to be transformed, like my life, into something else. Struggling at times to grasp the enormity of our human impact on our environment and world, I have learned to recreate my impressions of nature, allowing images to emerge as something familiar yet new.
When I first started painting abstracts (in Berlin), I knew I needed to find that place where my mind could stop, allowing me to focus just on my inner consciousness, as I played with color and form. As I lost myself in colors and patterns, I had to give up thinking about what I was painting and simply allow myself to feel. Now, I approach my landscapes the same way, always seeing, but approaching my subject not with the intention to paint but rather to capture and express what I feel. I continue my love affair with Nature, preserving what I can through landscape paintings.