Art From the Heart

 

Written by Rachel Jones in the August 2009 Issue

Mix, dip, brush, breathe. Mix, dip, brush, breathe. A peaceful calm comes with each brushstroke, with each motion of a craftsman doing what she was born to do. Edmond painter Peggy Mills was born with a gift for creating both clean lines and movement in her art that boasts a distinctly youthful quality. Seventy-five-year-old Mills, chasing her dream of painting, is realizing success as she finally pursues a passion she’s nursed for years.

Mills speaks with conviction about who she is and her treasured gift. “I’ve always known I was an artist,” says Mills. “Even as a young child I could see myself as a bohemian artist living in New York City, but knowing that was really never where I would go, it’s just who I am. I’m a very free spirit, yet I’m 75 years old.”

Mills found her calling late in life, but she’s making up for lost time. She’s already established herself as an important regional impressionist and Oklahoma art galleries are snatching up her work.

Elaine Dean of Edmond’s Dean-Lively Gallery stumbled across Mills’ impressionistic creations by accident four years ago. She fell in love not just with the art, but with the person, as well. “She’s a genuinely beautiful person on the inside and out and that comes through in her artwork. She paints for the pure pleasure and pure joy of it,” says Dean. “It shows in her blend of color, in her style, and in the simplistic brushstrokes that she uses. She has a strength in her color that’s just amazing.” The Dean-Lively gallery in Edmond has eight of her paintings on display.

You’d never guess by talking with Mills that she’s 75 or that she began her painting career late in life. She always had a love for art, creating and being imaginative, but up until a few years ago painting was just her pastime. Clean lines, textures, unique colors, and simplicity make her abstract art unique. Her art reflects who she is – a passionate person with an eye for beauty. “I’ve always looked at what I’ve had to work with, whatever it may be and made something beautiful out of it or tried to,” Mills says. “Once I was told as a child that I could take a weed and a tin can and make something beautiful out of it, but that’s what life is all about. You take the ugliness and turn it into good. That’s God’s way.”  It’s rare to come across a person as beautiful as the work they create, but Peggy Mills truly is a woman of noble character, strong faith, and a peaceful soul.

Mills came out of the womb an artist. As a small child she wanted nothing more than pencils, brushes, and paper to draw with. She dreamed that one day she’d be an artist, but waited on the perfect timing to devote herself fully to her art. She never realized her dream would take her into her 70s before she began painting, but she was always an artist in one way or another.

From being a part of the fashion merchandising industry to decorating homes, she always dealt with the textures, line, color, and simplicity – anything that lent itself to the arts she was involved with. Art’s just in her blood. She comes from a family of artists made up of dancers, singers, sculptors, and designers. But she’s the painter and it’s painting the abstract that really brings her joy.

“I enjoy painting the unusual. I love getting out of the box and trying new techniques, mixing colors randomly,” says Mills. “I really enjoy the simplicity of contemporary, abstract, impressionistic paintings. They make me imagine more and to me it’s more creative. I love the simplicity where the eye is not roving all over the painting, but very focused. Hopefully, it’s very simple, but powerful because for me, less is more.”

She also shows her work at the MSB gallery in Oklahoma City and after all these years of dabbling in painting, she can’t believe that her dreams of being in a gallery have come true. Almost immediately after her artwork was displayed she began selling to decorators and collectors.

She paints because she loves it, but when a piece of her art sells she feels blessed that someone else enjoys what she’s created. Mills is intent on living her life with passion and producing art that shows who she is. “I’m at a wonderful place and at 75, I’m still excited about life. Life needs to be lived and I’m living – living my dream really,” says Mills. “This is who I am and who God made me to be and I’ve realized it more as the years have gone by. I’m artistic to the core. I’m just getting in on what God’s doing and I guess he’s painting.”

To see samples of Mills’ artwork, visit the Dean-Lively gallery website at www.deanlively.com, and the MSB gallery website at www.msbartgallery.com.

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