Welcome! I want to tell you a little bit about myself and why I create, if you'll just indulge me for a few moments. My name is Brooke Ivey Milliken. Washington State has always been my home. I currently live in the Cascade Mountains near Leavenworth with my partner Byron and our two happy dogs, Nebbia and Onyx. We spend a lot of time outdoors and going on adventures. Its quite different than my Seattle life before this.
I came to love art immediately in life. I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil. Up until the age of 6, I drew on any and all surfaces. Walls, insides of cabinets, fences: nothing was safe from my handiwork. My mother is very creative and was quite young when she had me. We spent a lot of time together doing crafts, going to the art galleries and museums, and always visiting the Seattle spring and summer festivals. My father, while being talented in landscaping and being generally quite handy and industrious, is not very creative. But, he has always been quite proud of the things I make, and contributed greatly by buying art supplies and an easel growing up. He often proudly tells people I started drawing circles at one year old. This, I am not sure is entirely true.
In elementary school, I saw an Impressionism exhibit at The Seattle Art Museum which was absolutely fascinating to me. I think I remember it was predominantly Monet and Renoir. Of course, as with much classic art, there were plenty of paintings of nude women. I, being a child and generally oblivious to the “wrongness” of nudity (or so viewed by many of the adults around me), drew lots of pictures of naked ladies. This got me into a bit of trouble at my very conservative Christian School in the third grade. My parents were called, the administration thought I was disturbed or abused or what-have-you, but I was just trying to recreate what I saw from the Masters.
Throughout my youth, I continued to draw, always with lots of detail, but with little thought or regard to properly practicing. It consisted of lots of doodling. I doodled on everything from assignments, my arms, friends' arms, shoes, backpacks and more. I couldn’t contain it. Teachers would sometimes get upset at me because I drew in class. “It helps me listen!” I protested. This was the truth. As I got a little bit older, I began to become more private. I stopped showing things to people so much. I had my feelings very hurt by a family member that put down a piece I did. I stopped really creating consistently for a couple of years. This is not a healthy thing for me to do. Art is a form of therapy for me. It’s a release of emotion and darkness. I have developed a reliance on the kind of meditative state reached by just putting something on paper.
The last few years, I have been creating more than ever. I have also been putting more thought and time into what I make. It can be so difficult to share what you have made with other people, and it can be completely heart-wrenching and uncomfortable to sell and talk about pieces. Everyone has an opinion about what you should make or what you should do with what you’ve already made. I am doing it despite how terrifying it can be. I am not the best or the most disciplined, but I am showing things that are very important to me.These pictures are prayers and pages of a journal. I put a lot of symbolism and detail that is for only myself.
Trees: A Lifelong Love
Trees have always fascinated me. I remember being a little girl and playing under a big tree at my grandparents’ house. It was my self-proclaimed favorite tree. So, when there was talk of cutting it down I vehemently declared to my cousin I would wrap my tiny arms around it and not let them touch it.
These giants have been a source of comfort and sanctuary throughout my life. When things became challenging or confusing, I could always lie under the shade of a friend and forget. I still feel that way.
When I was in middle school, my mother and I lived in a little old house that had a bit of property. It was full of fruit trees, stinging nettles, and it even had an old treehouse. I ran through the tall grass in the summer, picking apples and feeding them to the neighbor’s horse. Now, as an adult I live in a valley of fruit trees in the mountains, and I feel right at home.
Trees are one of the most prevalent things in my art. They’re old friends and confidantes. A true love of my life. Whenever I visit a place without them, it feels uncomfortable. I think subconsciously it is akin to a big eye in the sky glaring down at me, and without any covering there’s nowhere to hide. You can perhaps blame bible stories in Sunday school for that image burned into my head.
A lot of my art is about living harmoniously with the nature around us. Integration without erasing or damaging the vital plants and animals within our ecosystems. I envision places where we can see beyond a concrete jungle and return to a simpler time. There is fantasy in this yes, but also a longing for a better respect for the earth. That’s why I draw these “tree houses” or as some call them “fairy houses.” These worlds living within my head are lush beautiful places with endless trees, flowers, fruits, and vines. Sparkling waters without plastic or cans. Mountains where people get off of their phones. Places where you can only listen to the birds and rustling of leaves rather than the noise of music or Netflix. Call me crazy, but that is the utopia I imagine.