BLENDING MOTHERHOOD AND PAINTING IS PROVO ARTIST'S CHALLENGE
Lynne Millman-Weidinger's warm painting of a mother reading to her young children was featured in the LDS Church Museum of History and Art exhibit last winter and appeared in the Ensign in March. It was titled "Taking Time for Your Children."
Now someone might well paint the scene of the 35-year-old artist at the easel in her kitchen, with the baby in a swing nearby, and title it "Taking Time for Your Painting."A couple of hours a day is about all the time the professional artist has had for painting since Caitlin was born nearly 10 months ago. Said Millman-Weidinger in an understatement, "She's changing my lifestyle."
But those two hours are important to the first-time mother, who has been selling her work since before graduating from Brigham Young University with an art degree. The past eight years or so, Millman-Weidinger has devoted her time to painting and traveling around to shows. Her professional art career hasn't stopped, she emphasized, just slowed down with the arrival of a baby.
The Provo artist painted for years in a downtown studio, then moved the studio to the basement of her home. In recent months, it's moved to the kitchen where her daughter can be nearby. The baby's nap time is prime time for painting.
"One thing I know I can't do is quit painting," said Millman-Weidinger. It's something she's pursued since childhood, with the encouragement of artistic grandparents and parents who allowed their children to draw on a white tabletop that could be wiped off. Brothers Dean and David also became professional artists.
Her subjects were influenced then, as they are now, by the country setting in Massachusetts where she spent her first eight years. The family moved to Utah, then to Carson City, Nev., where Millman-Weidinger attended high school. Animals, farm life and scenery, and Indian and Western themes have appeared over and over in her work.
The artist's photograph-like depiction of two horses, "Him and Her," won the purchase award in the Deseret News Art Show in 1984.
Her paintings also took Best of Show in the 1984 Utah State Fair and the 1987 Festival of the American West Art Show in Logan. Her work appears at the annual spring American Indian and Cowboy Artists Show in San Dimas, Calif., and has been exhibited in numerous shows.
In addition to country scenes and animals, Millman-Weidinger enjoys painting people. "Taking Time for Your Children" used her sister and her sister's two children as models. Another painting in the Ensign, "Love Is Eternal," portrays a friend rocking her baby.
The artist sees her style developing as she continues to paint, moving away from types and detailed acrylics to oils with an impressionistic feel. She likes to create strong contrasts with light and shadow.
"My goal is to master the medium," she said. "I know it's going to take years of learning and painting, and I learn as I paint."
That's the reason for insisting on the two hours a day, even though they're often difficult to squeeze in while caring for a young child. "There's a kind of drive in me," she said. Don Weidinger, Lynn's husband of six years, is happy to help with child care when his work schedule for Provo City permits.
Millman-Weidinger will be trying to squeeze even more painting time in during the next couple of months as she prepares for a one-woman show in Atlanta. So far, 12 of 20 paintings are ready.
Working on three at a time, the artist said, offers enough variety to keep it interesting. But she may have as many as five paintings in progress. "Sometimes I just feel the need to start something new," and working on something different provides the needed break.
Millman-Weidinger, who hyphenates her maiden and married names so she'll be recognized by both old and new associates, credits her older brother Dean with paving the way for Lynne and younger brother David. Dean, a well-known Utah artist, died of leukemia in 1977 at the age of 28. David is now in Seattle, focusing on portrayals of historic relics.
"Dean inspired us a great deal," Millman-Weidinger said. "He was our teacher." Apparently he taught them well. The name Millman is synonymous with success in the art world. But selling isn't why Millman-Weidinger paints. In her own words, it's "to be able to say what I feel, to paint the things I really love."
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