Thursday, December 4, 2008

Art brings Mother and Daughter together

Here's a story I wrote for today's Oregonian's Clackamas County Weekly-

The smell of fresh-baked pumpkin bread fills Kim Millen's home.
Her 21-year-old daughter, Andrea Millen, a senior at Warner Pacific College, decided to bake while home for the evening preparing for their mother-daughter art show that runs through Dec. 27 at the West Linn Public Library.

"This is a miracle, that she is baking," Kim chuckled.

The pumpkin bread joins an already full plate. Besides taking classes, Andrea works at Starbucks, is doing an internship and applying to the doctoral program in clinical psychology at Pacific University's School of Professional Psychology. And she's preparing for a January mission trip to Honduras.

With all that going on, Kim is thrilled by her daughter's interest in doing their first mother-daughter art show.

"We have always been so close, it seemed like a natural progression in the transition in our lives, culminating into this," Kim said. "I was really excited that she discovered painting. She has always been more into drawing -- she is very accomplished in that realm -- and she has just started painting."

Andrea grew up surrounded by the arts, taking dance, theater and music at a young age.

Kim, 53, has painted since high school and also danced; she has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Arizona. Kim's mother, brother, aunt and cousins are all artists or art educators.

Kim has focused on watercolor for 35 years and more recently turned to acrylics, specifically abstract painting.

"I take all the feelings I have inside and put them onto paper. I paint the way I feel," said Kim, whose art is featured at local Starbucks. She also has sold her work at the Portland Art Center.

Andrea, who has focused on charcoal portraits of people and animals, is beginning in acrylics. The art show will showcase their various works.

Kim turned to teaching art when she started her family two decades ago. She taught at Community Christian School, among other locations, as well as to home-schoolers in her studio.

"I am passionate about children and sharing the wonders of integrating art into their lives," Kim said, adding that she is looking forward to teaching adults. "My passion is sharing with others the wonder of what connecting with art can do in our lives, whether that be just being able to view a piece with more open eyes or daily appreciate the world's beauty on a deeper level."

Ultimately, she says, "my happy thing is helping others."

Kim and Andrea say their favorite place to paint is the bathroom converted into an art studio in Kim's home. "I feel good in here," Kim said of the studio. "Andrea comes home to paint here. I like the closeness."

Andrea, a 2005 Riverdale High graduate, says her long-term goal is to incorporate art into therapy. Her internship is at the Salvation Army's adult rehab center for men in Portland, where she goes two or three nights a week.

"It has to do with clinical counseling. The men generally have the option of going through the program or going back to jail or back on the streets," she said.

Andrea says her passion is "just understanding why people do what they do -- behavior, thought processes." She hopes to be able to combine her creative outlet with a career in psychology. "Art is therapeutic. I hope to tie art into it."

Shannon McBride, a Lakeridge High School art teacher who is on the committee that chooses shows for the West Linn library, said she liked the concept of a mother-daughter art show.

"What I was particularly enthusiastic about as an art educator was having a younger artist represented," she said. "It is important for the kids that come to the library to see someone younger showing their work publicly. And I like the inter-generational connection, of a mother passing on her art to her child."

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