Patricia Milam's creativity takes her beyond the traditional canvas of fabric stretched across a wooden frame. For her, art is everywhere and on all types of medium.The self-taught, soft-spoken Boyertown artist enjoys sharing her knowledge and trade secrets, too, with her students.

Most recently, she has been imparting her skills and talent with youth Saturday mornings at the Boyertown Area Multi-Service Building, 200 Spring Street, Boyertown, as part of the Arts and Activities Alliance winter arts and activities session.

AAA, a committee of Building a Better Boyertown, continues its mission to promote the arts by offering introductory classes for people of all ages.

Now through March 22, local artists and instructors are teaching various arts and crafts, as well as relaxation exercises weekly at the Multi-Service Building for anyone interested in participating.

Milam hopes to instill a love of art in her students, much like the passion she discovered as a youth.

While she did not immediately pursue a career in the arts following graduation from Perkiomen High School, she continued her creative interests and then used her talent to supplement her family's income.

Today, her two children are grown, and she now shares her talents in an array of venues in many fashions.

Last year, for example, she designed and painted "Tix," a fiberglass bear sponsored by Gateway Ticketing Systems Inc., 315 E. Second Street, Boyertown.

Milam features Gateway's venues on the bear where people use tickets, including a zoo, aquarium, water park and museum. Tix is part of the ongoing Bear Fever art project started by Jane and Paul Stahl.

Milam enjoys incorporating flowers and nature in her work, especially with her wall murals, many of which feature scenery. She applies paint with palette knives and brushes to create depth and dimension.

Over the years, Milam studied the styles of several artists. She worked with decorative artist, Shirley Thomas, whose work was featured in magazines.

She studied the landscape painting techniques of Bob Ross, who had a long-running television show called, "The Joy of Painting."

Her experience further expanded while she worked for several years at Creative Urge, a Souderton craft store, where she cold learn and teach.

Recently, Milam is experimenting with the techniques of decorative artist Donna Dewberry, who uses high definition paint-a thick, stiff paint used for a three-dimensional effect.

Although she enjoys flowers and nature, Milam prefers to be versatile in her endeavors.

'I listen to what people want," she said about her commissioned work, which is not limited to walls but includes floral arrangements, handcrafted musical candles, painted clothing, wedding and birthday cakes and home dÃ&Copy;cor.

"I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas," she said. "I write them down and then make them."

As an example, she describes how she used wooden spindles from stairs to make lamps.

"I saw these spindles and thought I could use them for the bases. I made the lamp shades and covered them with Victorian fabric and ribbon," she said. "My husband attached them to our nightstands."

Her husband, Robert, is her partner with projects and helps with brainstorming ideas and completing projects.

Together her passion for creativity, Milam has a special fondness for working with children.

"I love children with all my heart," she said. "There is nothing like their smiles."

For the past 10 years or so, she has appeared at events and special occasions as "Sparkles"-a cheerful, clown, who makes crafts with children.

"My uncle's name was Sparky, and he always made me laugh," she said. "He inspired me to make others laugh."

Sparkles' colorful appearance brings smiles to her audience's faces. She sports a snazzy derby with flowers and butterflies on top of her rainbow-colored, curly wig.

"I don't wear white makeup because that can look scary to children," she said.

Sparkles appears locally at events, such as AAA's Arts on the Avenues last summer. She is a regular at Camp Cool-Lea in Watkins Glen, New York, where she does crafts with children.

Milam has also worked with Boyertown Junior High West art teacher, Stephanie Stamm, during career day last fall. She showed students how to make hand-wrapped roses using Victorian-style fabric ribbon and lace. She also introduced students to Victorian tree ornaments using doll heads, lace and large tree balls.

In a few months, she will be working with art teacher, Katie DeStefano, at Boyertown Elementary School making crafts with students during the annual spring fair.

In the past, Milam has worked with students at a Quakertown school. She taught them how to paint the scenery and backdrops for their annual school play.

Whether she is painting flowers on a vest or adding the final touches to a wedding cake, Milam finds ways to use her creative ideas in every aspect of her life and to share the joy of her passion with others.

For more information or to sign up for a Saturday class, contact Patricia Milam at 610-689-8393 or email triciaanne@dejazzd.com.

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