Michael Milkin interprets nature through his unique depictions of birch trees and flowers, capturing the majesty and freedom of an autumn evening, a hot summer afternoon, or a snowy morning.
Drawing on Impressionism, his native Ukraine, and the seascapes of his new homeland—Israel—Milkin creates serene artwork that is exhibited and collected around the world.
Milkin was born in Kharkov, Ukraine in 1963. He participated in several art exhibitions as a student of architecture at the Kharkiv National University of Architecture and Civil Engineering. After graduating with a Master of Architecture, Milkin worked professionally as an architect but continued to teach, paint, and participate in public exhibitions.
Milkin decided to enroll in graduate school, attending the Pedagogical Institute in Kharkov to study graphics and arts. In 1994, Milkin began teaching fine art and joined the National Union of Artists of Ukraine. Many of his students would go on to become professional artists. Around this time, Milkin began exhibiting his work across Ukraine, France, and Germany.
In late 2001, Milkin fully dedicated himself to his art, prompting his family to immigrate to Israel. The beautiful Israeli countryside brought fresh ideas to Milkin, moving him deeply. He met with local artists and began experimenting with new materials in his art to express his vision.
Milkin’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Israel, Ukraine, and France and he has had several one-man and group exhibitions in Israel and abroad.
Style and Influences
Milkin concentrates on still lifes and landscapes, painting with acrylics and oils with thick, dramatic brushwork and brilliant colors.
The birch tree and its cryptic symbolism have long fascinated Milkin. Among his early work, Milkin created a series of graphic works created on birch bark. Slavic folklore as well as Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian cultures attach special significance to birch, seeing it as a symbol of homeland, nature, purity, and feminine tenderness.
Milkin has always found inspiration from the artwork of Impressionists such as Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Paul Cézanne. Milkin portrays the beauty of birch trees across various seasons and, like the Impressionists, places an emphasis on light. Russian landscape artist Fyodor Vasilyev has greatly influenced Milkin as well, specifically his compositions and color palette.
To begin a work of art, Milkin creates an outline of his subject. He then fills the outline on the canvas with modeling paste using a palette knife. Milkin then layers bright acrylic paint on top of the paste, creating a heavy, textured image. He lets this dry before applying varnish to accent certain colors. This special technique allows him to convey the texture of birch bark on canvas.
In addition to landscapes, Milkin’s oeuvre includes flowers and bouquets painted in vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Milkin believes bouquets of flowers symbolize delight and create an atmosphere akin to a holiday gathering.
“Nothing brightens a room quite like a case of fresh flowers,” Milkin says. “They should always be in a house, and I don’t need any excuse to buy myself a bouquet.”