When I conceptualize, I celebrate the joy of putting my hands in the earth, feeling its life-giving force, the smells of springtime, the lush abundance of summer, the vigor and energy of autumn, and the frozen crystal beauty of winter. I love the seasons, each one to be celebrated and honored.
— Gary Milek

About the Inspiration


Gary is not only a professional painter but a highly accomplished gardener. He derives much of his inspiration from the extensive plant collections that he and his wife, Sarah, a nationally recognized gardener-herbalist, have created at Cider Hill Gardens, on the grounds bordering their home in Vermont. His deep reverence for the plants that surround him is apparent in his intricately detailed watercolors of botanically-correct flora that characterize many of his paintings. 

Painting with watercolor means using a pigment binder that holds the pigment on the paper when it dries, like gum Arabic. When water touches the surface again it activates the binder and pigment and starts the process all over again.

Buckeye Bell Peonies

Buckeye Bell Peonies

Watercolor enables Gary Milek to work directly on site, enabling him to take “notes in watercolor”, as he terms them. He uses 300 lb. pure rag, hot pressed paper, with a smooth surface similar to the gessoed panels he paints tempera on. The introduction of white to the colors makes a more opaque picture. The transparency of the colors and the paper create an interesting relationship between light coming from within and light coming on the surface. Many of his watercolors end up as finished paintings in themselves, while others serve as the basis for later egg tempera paintings.

"I draw, paint, and garden to connect myself and others to the rotations of this beautiful earth."  — Gary Milek


*Pictured above: Delphiniums & Shasta Daisies, Hemerocallis and Rudbeckia