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Speed painter, painting class take stage at Jam Fest

By by jessica rodrigo/
April 17, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.
Updated April 16, 2013 at 11:17 p.m.

Michael Milam sits in his makeshift studio with a few pieces of his artwork and the 4 -by-6-foot canvas that he will complete a painting  in 12 minutes for the crowd at Saturday's Jam Fest. Milam has been speed painting for about a year.

There are many ways art and music go hand-in-hand. Art may be inspired by music, or music might be modeled after art.

Either way, Jam Fest is bringing family entertainment and music that will combine music and art together for two days.

Saturday night, Michael Milam, who makes up the "M" in Victoria's M&R Print Shop, will go from graphic designer by day to speed painter.

The 43-year-old business owner said he started painting in elementary school but decided to take on speed painting when he saw it online while researching new painting techniques.

"You tell yourself, 'I'm gonna try it,' and you see if you can do it," he said. "Then it just falls into place."

Speed painting doesn't just mean painting a piece of art quickly, for Milam, it's painting a 4-by-5-foot painting in less than 12 minutes. In the comfort of his backyard, Milam said he will practice his paintings maybe once or twice before a show to make sure he can complete his painting in the 12-minute window.

During his practice sessions and for his performance, he makes a mixed playlist of MP3s to use as a timer incognito. Since he can't take his eyes off his painting, he said, he uses the music to help him figure out how far along he is in his painting, which will also have a music theme.

While he went to Jam Fest last year to enjoy the family friendly entertainment, he didn't imagine he'd be in front of the crowd himself, but when he was asked by members of the Victoria Fine Arts Association to perform during the festival, he couldn't refuse.

"I wanted to bring something to Victoria that hasn't been here, to show them something new," he said.

Under the lights of the gazebo on DeLeon Plaza, Milam will attempt to paint a 4 1/2-foot-by-6-foot canvas with a surprise music-themed subject in front of an audience before Jam Fest's headliner Delbert McClinton hits the main stage. But he said he doesn't have any jitters about his performance.

"If I had to do a 30-minute speech on art, I'd be more nervous," he said. "I guess it's because I've got my back to them - I can't see them while I'm painting."

When he is finished, he said he plans sell his mystery music-themed painting and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Boys & Girls Club of Victoria.

Instead of performing in front of a crowd, Eunice Collins, of the Victoria Art League, will host her popular art class, Painting The Town, in the One O'Connor Plaza Building.

Collins, together with fellow artist Roni Chambers, will help about 20 students create individual paintings to bring home and show off to friends and family.

Collins said the painting for the Jam Fest will incorporate a music theme with a drawing of a saxophone with musical notes. For each session, Chambers produces original art, she said, so students with any level of art skills can follow along while learning about shading and other painting techniques. He'll outline the form of the saxophone, and the rest is up to the artist.

"Everyone just puts their own take on it," she said about the students. "Everyone is successful. And everyone has a great time."

When Collins started Painting The Town in October, she said, she envisioned herself painting along with each class, but nowadays, she gets to host and socialize with the students.

For Jam Fest, she said, reservations can be made for all ages ranging from 6 year olds to grandma and grandpa, too.

"The community has welcomed us with open arms," she said. "I hope the community responds well to (Jam Fest). The music and entertainment are wonderful."



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