about the artist

Ann MillsAnn Mills

I grew up in a family in which the outdoors and science, specifically outer space, were most important. My father was a nuclear physicist and dreamed of blasting off to Mars and the planets beyond. Sadly he died young and didn’t get to see the moon landing.


My grandmother shared with me the joy of making things (please see her page on this site)—whether it was sewing a quilt for her bed or turning a gourd into a jewelry box for my mother—she knew how to do it. Still in my family academics were paramount; art was considered frivolous and definitely not a career. So it was not until I was eighteen and tagged along with a friend to her painting class, that I had my first opportunity to draw. While the rest of the students worked on their paintings, the teacher set up a small wooden manikin in front of me, handed me a piece of charcoal and paper and said,” See if you can draw this.” I had no skills, but the challenge of trying to make that small wooden man look real was immensely exciting. I put down outlines, rubbed them out when they looked wrong, put in new ones, almost got it, rubbed out again and continued like that for three hours until the teacher came to collect his manikin.

My Dad & Me


I still feel that excitement today whether I’m painting from life, memory or imagination—a tantalizing desire to make it real, to halt it on the surface. But in the time it takes to make the painting, the reality recedes and something else takes its place, sometimes mysterious, sometimes familiar. And I know I’ll try again…