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Sold at Auction: Millicent Tomkins


I have painted since I was nine years old when I copied a book cover of “Heidi” which won the first of six successive children's art scholarships to the San Francisco Museum of Art (what is now the Art Institute). At the same time I was trained as a pianist and soprano. After earning a Masters of Art Degree at U.C. Berkeley, I became an independent artist. Having explored various series

of paintings over the years, I presently work in a Magic Realist style.

I do sketches and photographs from nature such as still life or landscape. I include “Visual Quotations” from the Great Masters as homage to them. I find it amusing that after copying “Heidi “ when I was nine, I am presently back to copying motifs from the Great Masters.

I also often include “Literary Quotations” in borders inspired by Edward Hicks. (18c American), and have quoted from the poetry in my former vocal repertoire, as well as Goethe, the Bible, Shakespeare and modern poets.
My work is in Ink, acrylic and oil on wood panels (which are conducive to fine details) or stretched canvas for the large motifs. In some cases I use photographic technique for highly detailed under painting and superimpose oil paint, often under a lighted magnifying glass.

I include tile floors inspired by Flemish or Italian sources, marble columns, oriental rugs and also faux surfaces such as marble, walnut, burled wood and craquelure... realist techniques which have fascinated and challenged me.
I see my motifs as metaphor or myth - as homage to nature, the fruits of the earth, man’s artistic creations. I am not interested in representing the turmoil of contemporary life. I find the world of classical beauty more comforting and inspiring.

I often include art of past centuries in my work to provide continuity with historic art and my own painting. In this way I express the complexity of my experience of space and time - and keep good company in my studios in Mill Valley, California and Moab, Utah, where my family has a music festival each year.

My work also includes a 7 ½’ harpsichord lid on an instrument made by Kevin Fryer (San Francisco) for Jacques Ogg (The Netherlands). The painting is adapted from “Orpheus Charming the Animals“ by Aelbert Cuyp (17c Dutch). (see Harpsichord page)

The second harpsichord lid was painted for Kevin Fryer. Adapted from several paintings by Joseph Vernet (18c, French),
One of which is called“A Calm Sea in Moonlight” and third lid from paintings by Pieter Breuhgel (16c, Flemish) including "Winter Scene with Bird Trap and Ice Skaters, Hunters".

The 4th lid for Voices of Music ( based in the San Francisco area, Directors: van Proosdij and Tayler) is adapted from motifs by Cuyp and Van Ruisdael, (17 c Dutch), including “ Figures, Clouds, Sea, and Boats.”

My fifth harpsicord was made by Kevin Fryer for Ronald McKean (Alameda, California). It is based on birds by de Hondercoerter, and figures and animals by Savery and Jordaens, 17c Dutch.
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