For 18 years Gordon Milne sat and watched.
Every Tuesday morning he would attend Alberta Ballet and watch the dancers practice – he was inspired by their movements, talent, and emotion they portrayed. For 18 years Milne has been translating this emotion onto canvas.
“If they’re not dancing with emotion, then it’s flat, just like a painting,” said Milne, during the opening of his gallery on Thursday night.
Milne, a professional Canadian artist from Turner Valley, Alta., celebrated the opening of his gallery Perfect Line, at the Fernie Museum, which will be on display until March 31, 2019. This gallery is a retrospective of the past 18 years of his life.
Some may remember Milne’s previous gallery showing in Fernie many years ago entitled, Canadian Sports Heroes Collection, a series of portraits of Canadian Olympians. Some of his new work resembles the style of his previous showing, but some of his new work is very different.
After spending years with ballet dancers, Milne will learn their favourite poses, and paint the series of movements leading up to that move as a dedication to that dancer.
“Gordon has this extraordinary ability to capture the movement of the body in a very sensuous, powerful and poetic way,” said Jean Grand Mâitre, Alberta Ballet artistic director.
There are several unique attributes to Milne’s work. First of all, they are life size, some even larger than life. Secondly, his work is almost entirely based around the art of movement. Milne’s work is both extremely abstract, but also very structured; some of his work is very polygonal yet feels extremely fluid. While working with polygons, Milne must ensure that all colours compliment those they are touching. Half tones and quarter tones of colours become very important.
Each piece takes Milne around three months to create.
Milne has always loved sports. This is what got him started drawing and painting portraits of athletes that he very much admired. This led to him inquiring about attending morning classes of Alberta ballet, which he was granted.
“I get to draw the dancers every morning, and the paintings that I do are based on those drawings,” said Milne. “I am very interested in movement, and not just a single pose necessarily, but a series of movements that translate into a finished pose.”
Asked what kept Milne going back to morning class for 18 years, the artist said it’s always a unique experience. One thing he has learned over the years, is how hard these dancers work and how dedicated they are to their craft.
“Olympic athletes are viewed as elite athletes, and I view dancers that way as well,” said Milne.
“Getting to go to class is like watching the beginning of the process. I love it. I just love it.”