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June 5th, 2006


Being Creative

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Being Creative

We were all fairly creative when we were children. Remember what we made out of cardboard boxes, the stories we made up about imaginary playmates, roads we built in the dirt, mud pies, (I loved making mud pies), the lives we invented for our paper dolls.

We were at our creative best then. Somewhere, in the growing up process, many times, we loose that spark. We become fearful, we're afraid of criticism from our peers, our parents, our teachers, afraid we can't measure up to someone else's expectations, afraid we won't do it right. So afraid to be different, to stand out, afraid to not be COOL!

Who defines COOL anyway!!

But....... we stop making things. It's easier that way. No judgements, no criticisms, no pain. Our creativity goes dormant. But dormant doens't mean dead. It means sleeping, resting, time out, siesta, nap time, etc.. A dormant condition is a condition just waiting for prince/princess charming to kiss it awake!

Where would we find a kiss that would awaken our creativity?

For starters, go to where the charming prince kisser would live. Kissers like that lurk in art museums, they attend exhibits, art openings, are members of local art leagues, they culitivate artsy friends, subscribe to art magazines.

In order for creativity to be kissed and awakened, do the things and go to the places the charming kisser does and goes.

You will get kissed!! Guaranteed!

Once kissed there is no turning back. It's full steam ahead. Creativity has been kissed, stirred and awakened. It will not be denied.

Awakened, your creativity will stretch and reach into realms you never knew existed. It is possible to gain back our childlike creativeness. It can be nurtured, cultivated and expanded.

By the simple act of doing, our imagination is stirred and awakened. One crazy, wild, idea leads to another and another, it's like a tidal wave that engulfs us.

We are high on enthusiasm, the adrenaline is flowing, the pace is fast and furious. (Sounds like I'm describing a football game) New possibilities are opened up, new avenues are explored, a most satisfying and rewarding way of life has presented itself to us.

A creative spirit is free for all to acquire. To help jump-start your own creativeness try the following excerise.

Cut out magazine pictures of ordinary items With each item, do the most bizarre thing that could be done with it. For example:

Cut it up into odd shapes and rearrange it (Abstract paintings are made of stuff like this)

Take pieces from several several photos and combine them

Glue them down on cardboard

Paint some of the shapes black or some other color

Cut apart faces and put ears on a teapot, hair on a fence post, etc.

Use these colleges to start a painting or a sculpture

Drip and drop ink or really fluid paint on paper or canvas

Sling it like Jackson Pollock did

Wildly with swinging arms

Place a large canvas on the floor and paint with thin paint.

Splattering the oils with turp

Watercolor with water or alcohol.

Spray the watercolor with the waterhose or run the shower on it.

Don't think fine art painting, I'll ruin it...just sling paint and enjoy the process

Your creativity has been kissed, life will never be the same again!

Artists, who have been kissed, and did approach their work with an open mind, and believed anything was possible; have created some very powerful works.

Works that would not have happened, if they had refused to go with the flow and allow things to happen, even when they seemed like mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes are so.o.o.o interesting, use them, see what can be done with them. Your work will be the better for it. We are not able to completely think a painting through, unexpected things will happen that we didn't plan on or consider. Use them!.

Creating is mostly 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Work with what is happening on your canvas or paper. Allow things to just happen and then build on it.

Kay Milam

A bit about me.. I have painted, made sculptures, and taught art in my private studio and higher learning classes in two colleges, to both childern and adults.

My paintings are in galleries in Texas, in private collections, and may be viewed at my website.

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June 3rd, 2006



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Collecting our supplies is half of the fun of painting! What artist, or wanna be artist, doesn't salivate at the appearance of the mail order art catalog. It used to be the Sears or Speigel, not so any more. Now we look forward to Cheap Joes, Napa, Mister Art, Jerry's Art A Rama, Daniels, and so on.

The internet has certainly made shopping much easier. In just a few days your supplies can be at your door. The amount of supplies we amass can be staggering. We suddenly need a whole room of our own. And it gets worse, we will grow to fit our new space! We can't help it; it goes with the territory!

You will find listed below, many things to help you. In aiding you to do your art, lightening the
load and freeing up needed space.

Tip & Hints

Paper towels are great, both for watercolors and oils. To conserve space, cut the whole roll in
half and carry that with you to class or keep near your easel to wipe your brushes on.

Toilet tissue is another great blotter. Leave the roll intact and simply blot your watercolor brush.

Old rags are excellent for oil and acrylic paint Rags that have been soaked with turpentine
should be put in a metal trash can. These rags can spontanously combust(catch fire all by themselves)
Be very careful about their disposable Never throw turp down your sink drain; you will be extremely sorry in the near future! It will corrode the pipes.

To wash your brushes and thin the paint, fill a tin can with turpentine. In the bottom of the can place a plastic scrubbie. (For the men,… it's a scrubber for pots and pans, as in cooking!)
(( I believe that was a sexist remark li just made!! I apologize boys!! ))

At the end of each painting session, leave the turp alone. The paint will settle out to the bottom and leave clear, clean turp. The next time you paint, carefully drain the clear turp into another container and reuse it.

Watercolor may be poured down the sinkhowever; as it is always water-soluble.

Acrylics could be iffy. They are a plastic and could solidify in the drain. Better to drain off
the water and dump the sludge in the trash.

To make painting outdoors enjoyable, lighten up!
Here are ways to do that.

Make a simple outdoor painting kit with a thin empty Huggies box

Glue a daily pill container in huggies box the 7 day will hold 7 colors. Fill with watercolor.

Cut the brush handle to fit huggies container.

Put small watercolor tubes in a pepper can to take along

A fishing tackle box, a very small one, size 3x5 with a top and bottom lid is great. Store
extra tubes in one side and fill the other side with watercolor paint. Cut a brush to fit and
notch a place for it.

Cut your watercolor paper into small sizes 5x7 and clip them to a clipboard to use outdoors. Carry water in a small container that fits in your pocket or purse. A few paper towels and you're ready to go.

Small wooden panels are great to take to the field. A wooden painting box will hold the canvas,
paints, brushes and turp, and provide a support for the panel or canvas.

A baby's diaper bag is great for taking supplies to class. It has many pockets and is plastic lined.

A wheeled luggage carrier is wonderful, no more breaking the back to lug in your stuff.
And it holds everything, including your lunch, shoes and a change of clothes!

More on the fishing tackle boxes. There is one that has slide out trays, these are great for colored
pencils and all drawing supplies. These boxes are much cheaper than the art boxes and are much the same thing.

Framing A View

Are you at a loss when you get outdoors, about what to paint? When we are faced with that huge landscape, it can be daunting.

Here is a simple way to narrow the view down.

Take an old slide and cut the negative out. Use that to look through to find an outdoor subject.

Or make a small cut out, the opening the same format as your canvas or papr, from mat board or cardboard. The out doors is so big and can be confusing. We don't know what to draw or paint, there is so much! Making a little window will help you frame out a subject. Close one eye and look through the little window.

Always shut the same eye, don't change in the middle of your drawing or painting. You will get a different view. The closer to your eye that you hold the slide, the more of the landscape you see.

The farther away from your eye that you hold the slide, the less you see. You can zero in one a small area. This works with a stilllife setup also.

Remember to always hold the slide at the same arm length, the view changes when you
bring your arm in closer to your eyes.

More Tips & Hints

Turn a tv tray upside down to make a holder for matted art work

Use a hair dryer to speed up the drying of your watercolor

Construct a portfolio holder from pvc pipe to hold matted art work. Look through an art catalog for
a pattern to make yours. I made one from aluminum that cost $ 11.00, an electrician bend the pipes for me FREE.

Make one to stand on the floor and one to sit on a table

Use a pringle chip can to hold paint brushes,cut a dowel to fit the can and then with a rubber
band fasten the brushes to the dowel.

The dowel, being the same length as the can, prevents the brush hairs from being bent.

Hope this helps to make  painting an even more enjoyable experiece.

Kay Milam

A bit about me.. I have painted, made sculptures, and taught art in my private studio and higher
learning classes in two colleges, to both childern and adults.

For free art lessons go to http://www.milamstudios.com


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June 1st, 2006




That special uniqueness that is in all of us, that special creative spark, will flare and burn brightly, if nourished properly. All forms of art are dependent upon the creativeness of the originator or performer, they are non-existant without the dreamer. No two works can ever be the same, this artist/creator, brings different thoughts, ideas/ideals, dreams, and visions to any creative work of art.

The materials to be used, are totally dependent upon the dreamer's hand and mind. Their uniqueness rests in the artists search and discovery process; search of self, search of his environment. It is through exploration and experimentation that we keep, nourish and expand our talents, ambitions, desires and creativeness.

Whole volumes have been written about nurturing the creative spark. Creativeness can be learned, cultivated and expanded. An artist must work at being creative and they keep the creative edge by doing.

Here is a list of exercises designed to help.

  • Try new colors
  • Paint with a limited palette-use a few colors
  • Paint with only one color
  • Apply paint and then with a credit card -scrape portions of paint out
  • Apply paint with a painting knife.
  • Buy the large box of crayolas and just scribble
  • Paint, draw or scribble with your eyes closed
  • Paint without drawing or thinking-just paint
  • Cut up magazine photos and arrange on a small 5x7cardboard-make a simple design.
  • Dilute watercolor or poster paint and pour on the paper. Let dry and see what you can find.
  • Take art classes
  • Join the local art league
  • Participate in local art shows
  • Cultivate creative friends
  • Hang out at the art galleries
  • Go to the art shows and talk with the artists.
  • It’s amazing what an afternoon at the local art gallery will do to jump start your imagination!


  • Go to the library, it's a treasure trove of books on painting and making things.
  • Clean the studioSet up a studio-even if it's just a table area
  • Collect magazine photos to stir your imagination
  • Go through art books, clip out the art work that inspires you and put them in a scrapbook.
    Refer to them when you need inspiration.

  • Teach your area neighborhood children how to draw
  • Teach a class at the senior citizens center
  • Dribble ink on dry watercolor paper
  • Dribble ink on wet watercolor paper-blow ink with a straw
  • Blast a dry watercolor painting with the water hose
  • Get your material organized-disorder rarely is inspirational.
  • Glue different papers and found objects to a support, try gluing the following:
  • If you can get the object to stay glued, anything can go on your canvas or paper
    cardboard - wire - nails - netting - foil - paper - plastic - toys - magazine photos - leaves.

Taking a weekly art class is a great way to keep your enthusiasm revved. Also painting with a group that is on your level will help you grow as an artist. The isolation required of an artist can cause us to become ingrown and stunted. There must be a healthy balance of time alone to work and time to socalize and be with others of like mindedness.

Wm. W. Woollcott said: In art I pull no high-brow stuff, I know what I like, and that's enough.


Kay Milam

For free art lessons go to http://www.milamstudios.com

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May 30th, 2006




  1. Choose any artist - from any time period.
  2. Gather articles and color pictures of your featured artist's work.
  3. Study his/her life's story
  4. Were they married
  5. Did he/she have children
  6. Did the children paint, sculpt
  7. Were the parents artistic, etc.
  8. Know all you can about that artist.

Make her/him a living, flesh and blood person to your student.

  1. Select a painting of the featured artist.
  2. Provide photocopied line drawings that you have made of the artist's work, to the student.
  3. They will be of great benefit, in that it will  provide something to look at
  4. Thus relieve the anxiety they feel in seeing  that blank piece of drawing paper and knowing
    they must put something on it!
  5. Also have color pictures of those same paintings.

Identify the color scheme

Ask your students to identify the color scheme
of your artist's art work, ie.
1. Complementary
2. Analogous
3. Monochromatic
4. High key (light values)
5. Low key (dark values).
This will teach them to think a little more in-depth about paintings and the making of art.

Use a limited palette ......Try using only the primary colors plus white and black.

1. Red
2. Yellow
3. Blue
4. White
5. Black
This will teach students to mix colors and avoid the confusion from having to
choose from so many different colors.
(Relieves even more anxiety-this is good!)


It isn't wrong to copy

We learn by copying and imitating, so allow students to copy that artists work, either using
the photocopied line drawing or their own drawing. Then, as close as they can, to paint just like the
color reproduction. This will teach the student the methods used in that artist's work.

Encourage students to invent their own subject or design, then, using the same colors and
techniques and imitating that artist, to make their own original art work.

To help the artist really come alive to your students try the following:

  1. Dress up students in that time period
  2. Dress up as the artist's painting

Make some art supplies: for instance:


1. Hand-made paper
2. Charcoal from the fireplace to draw with.
3. Make a paint container called a bladder, from a piece of chamois. It was a 4" round
circle of leather that held a small amount of paint and then fastened with a string at the top. Paint was squeezed out a small  hole on the bottom as needed.
4. Prepare wooden panels to paint on. This was the support, artists of olden days, used. An old hollow core door cut into small pieces 8x10 or larger, make perfect panels.

Purchase pigmented shellac from any lumber yard or Home Depot and coat the boards.
They are then ready to use.

Artists to Study:

Henri Matisse=1869-1954- French
Great colorist, who used pure strong, color without regard to the
actual color of his subject. Also study his paper cutouts, these were done in his later years when his
eyesight began to fail.

Pablo Picasso-1881-1973 Spanish
Pablo was a child prodigy, a masterful draftsman, and a creative genius. Picasso's art went through
many phases,i.e., his blue period, his pink period, his classical period, he was influenced by other art types and forms. In his later years, his work took on a more light and happy feeling,
even getting into ceramics and doing them by the thousands.

Pollack Jackson-1912-1956 American Abstract-Expressionism
He was made famous by his unique method of applying paint. By throwing, dripping, and spattering paint on canvas that was laid on the floor or tacked to the wall, Jackson created paintings that were soooo different and never before seen at that time. He claimed that his technique allowed him to be muchmore intimate and connected to his art. Fo rthe simple fact that this had not been done
before made Jackson's work very unique, different and much sought after.

Mary Cassatt 1845-1926 American
This Pennsylvania born artist, is considered to be America's most famous woman artist.She spent most of her life in Europe and was greatly influenced by the impressionists. Light was deemed more important than space or form. Her subjects were mothers and their babies, grand ladies at tea and the opera.

Georgia O'Keefe 1887- 1986 American

This woman artist started her art career doing abstracts. Her marriage to Alfred Stieglitz introduced her to the likes of Cezanne, Rodin and Matisse. Her art took on more of aCubist-Realist, stylized form. It was a step away from the abstract to more of a semi-representational look. We remember her for those monumental close-ups, of flowers and cow skulls, in rich vibrant color.

She is considered America's second most important woman painter.



Kay Milam

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May 28th, 2006




Many times our artistic attempts are not successful and the art work flopped. So, why are we so loath to part with it? We would be embarrassed to give it to someone, we for sure don't want it hanging where it can be seen, and it could never be sold, so why do we hang on to it? The reason is simple, we are in love with every thing we do. It is precious in our eyes.

This attitude can hinder us in our artistic journey. Our work isn't priceless and precious and the best thing we've done this week can be bettered tomorrow. When we have completed a piece of art work, give it some time, rework it, give it more time and then call it finished or throw it out. There is no merit in saving lost causes just because it is yours. Don't leave it laying around, it puts you on a guilt trip just looking at it.

Now, it is very hard to convince an us to throw our stuff out! Just look around our studio asnd you'll see all the stacks of old books, old paintings, old clay works, even class projects done in art school! It is hard to prune and weed out, but when we finally realize that not everything we produce is precious and needs keeping, then we can grow in our creativeness and artistic ability. Remember, the best work you did this week can be bettered next week.

A good example of this: An art instructor during a college class gave us a very good, meaningful, demonstration. His star pupil, the hot shot artist from high school, the one who always got the job of making posters, “THE ARTIST,” had completed his first class project. It did look really fine, and was more professional than the other students work. The star was proud of his offering, very proud. But the teacher knew this star was capable of so much better. So, to make a point, he made an example of him.

At class time, he praised the work, complimented the star, and then proceeded to rip in shreds the precious piece of art work! The class was amazed and simply speechless! So was the star.(a minor understatement) After letting that sink in for a few moments, he explained his action. He said that he knew this student was capable of so much more, but not as long as this fine piece was still in front of him. The student in thinking that his art work was priceless, and precious, would not advance any farther than the level of that piece of art.

The demonstration had its effect. The star and the class, realized that not all our efforts were worth saving, that there is so much to be learned. There’s always room for improvement and our last effort is not the best we can do. Moral of the story, learn as much as you can, do the best you can and if it didn’t make it, then pitch it and go on to bigger and better things! Don’t take yourself too seriously.


Kay Milam

Kay Milam is an artist, lecturer and painting demonstrator.
For free art lessons go to http://www.milamstudios.com

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May 25th, 2006


Abstract Painting - How To Understand It

Abstract Painting

Abstract......what does the word mean? Webster defines abstract as: a. considered apart from a particular instance, b.expressing a quality apart from the object or c. having only intrinsic form with little or no pictorial representation. In other words; taking an object and focusing on its core fundamentalness. All three definitions very easily fit abstract painting in showing, telling, drawing and painting the very essence of the object without actually depicting the object itself.

How does an abstract painter arrive at an abstract design? Many stated that they started with a representational motif, that the motif was something readily identifiable. Then they dissected the motif so to speak, looking for the bare bones, the very essence of the object. They expressed this essence with colorful shapes, some beautiful, some drab, and some just plain ugly.

In any type of painting the artist is making a statement. It's easy to say pretty pink flowers in a representational painting. What the abstract artist has to say must be said with his/her simple means; brush marks, color and interesting shapes. Also, since color is arbitrary, color is at the artist's whim, and may or may not be pretty and has nothing to do with the painting's success.

To make a meaningful statement without a recognizable subject is daunting. It's not a matter of simply looking and drawing. He/she must use all their wiles to engage us in dialog with their art, being limited, or we should say, unlimited, with unrecognizable shapes and unrelated (to the object) color. The artist must interest and speak to the viewer through form and color.

A weak, wishy washy, pretty pink flower painting says, "Weak, wishy washy pretty pink flowers!" Bright, bold colors, without form and substance in an abstract painting says, "No form and no substance!" Neither painting is successful.

So..... here we stand in front of the piece of art, having no understanding of abstract art, its purpose and intention. We would like to respond but we are without a clue. So, we hesitate in front of the art work, we don't know what to say, we don't respond to the color or design, so, we walk away saying, or at least thinking, "That artist must be nuts!" And wondering what the painting was all about. What was its purpose? Was it good art or not?

There are some people who are of the opinion that a painting must be representational to be good art. And if they cannot see every hair on the head and every leaf on the tree, then the art is not good. That simply is not true. You may prefer the see every hair but that is not necessarily an indication of good art.

What guidelines do we have in judging an abstract paintings merits? The guidelines that representational painters must follow are the same for the abstract painter. The work must have readable values, color harmony and dominance, repetition with variety in shapes, colors and lines, all that pertains to good art must also be in abstract art.

A collection of wild colors and shapes does not always add up to good art in abstraction or representational art. A good abstract can be more difficult to pull off than representational art because the artist is relying on his imagination and intuition to make something meaningful and of value. (not necessarily monetary value)

In trying to understand abstract (non-representational) art, approach it with the idea in mind to simply appreciate what is before you. Sometimes the title will give us a clue as to what the painting is about. That helps. Then look and take note of how it affects you. Does the color speak to you? Are you lifted up or cast down by the color? You will have some reaction to a piece of art work, it will move you in some way, perhaps not much, perhaps a great deal. Identify what it is.

Good art, whether abstract or representational, sets a mood, tells a story, however subtle, intrigues and interests the viewer, and as such, each painting must be appreciated on its own merits.



Kay Milam

Kay Milam is an artist, lecturer and painting demonstrator.

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May 20th, 2006




Are people born creative? Is the urge to make things, to draw, to paint, to just put things together, an inherent part of our being? Many say yes, we are born with the desire to create, hence, the thirst for more knowledge. The quest for knowing is paramount to the human species and most of us will spend our lives in pursuit of knowledge.

We have all seen the vastly creative child prodigy who could compose symphonies at age three or paint wonderful abstract paintings that have astounded the art world! But the majority of us aren't child prodigies and haven't astounded anyone. So we would say no, we are not creative.

To be creative, we mistakenly believe, we must be a magical, mystical, artist and paint magnificent paintings or make monumental sculptures and if we aren’t doing this, then we simply are not creative. Our general line of thinking is that artists possess magical powers in being creative and therefore are so different from us.

The truth is, artists are not magical, mystical or different from anyone else. In fact, the artist, they, us, we, you and I, are just like the next door neighbor, just average people. Some of us may look a bit odd  but that is beside the point. Any creative person is an artist by the fact of their own creativeness.

Perhaps what is not average about the artist, though, is the burning desire to make something, to create. A artistic creative person's hands are always busy, even when it's only making bread. How many cookbooks on bread making have you seen? There are as many different books as there are cooks and each is very creative in shapes and tastes of bread.

The knitter or crocheter who is not satisfied to merely make things from other people's patterns, will make up a new pattern or expand and change the existing patterm. A creative person is not satisfied to just copy anothers design, they want to do their own thing. That desire is what seperates the creative artist from the crowd. Creativity will show up in many ways, not just painting or sculpting but in decorating and beautifying a home, using scraps to make quilts, planting gorgeous flower beds, sewing and so on.

There is a creative streak in all of us. Find what you are creative in and excel in it! Make your mark!


Kay Milam

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May 15th, 2006


Drawing From The Inside Out

Drawing From The Inside Out

Drawing from the inside out. It's amazing how accurate you can be using this method of drawing. I use a soft, #6 drawing pencil and started with the handle and carefully drew, following each shadow, and each reflection. Every mark made is reference for the next mark. Carelessness will not result in an accurate drawing.

Portraits benefit greatly using this method. Drawing like this enables us to really see what the line is doing. We can haphazardly draw an object and get a fair likeness and most would say that we have done a good job. The test is when doing a portrait. We cannot fake a face. It either looks like them or it doesn't.

If you are mediocre in drawing, everything you draw will be mediocre, from the trees to the houses to people to faces. If you can accurately draw that crushed can, or that tree, or that shoe or that leaf, then you can accurately draw that face. One isn't any more difficult than the other.

Faces aren't more difficult to draw than anything else. It's just that a portrait tells of our ability to draw better than anything else. Again, it either looks like them or it doesn't.

Try this method of drawing. See what it does for your seeing ability. You begin to notice details you never saw before. Your success is nearly guaranteed with this method.

Kay Milam


for free art lessons go to http://www.milamstudios.com

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May 5th, 2006


Creativity - Now That You Have It

Creativity - Now That You Have It


A creative person will do their creative thing regardless of finances or circumstances. They cannot help themselves! They are the producers. That creativeness can be put to work in the market place
or kept in the back room.

A creative homemaker will decorate that home without knowing all the rules that apply to coordinating colors and mixing and matching furniture and do a wonderful job in the process.

The creative gardener will make beautifully coordinated flower beds, topiaries out of his bushes, the welder will make useful and decorative items from metal, the list goes on and on.

Some people make money being creative, others don’t, and aren’t interested. Irregardless, your creativeness will surface and make itself known; in the way you decorate your space, the way you dress, etc., in your very own particular way of seeing the world.

Every artist, and there is one in each of us, has their own unique way of seeing. No two people will even see a color in the same way.And no two works of art are ever alike.It’s almost impossible for the same person to make a duplicate.No matter how similar the object, they will be different.

The creative person (that’s you & me) brings an insight and an individualism to their art work that is so very different and unique. And in that uniqueness, speaks to the viewer.

That is what art is all about ……speaking. Speaking to the art collector, the homemaker who wants to
put something beautiful on her wall, to the consumer looking at the advertisements, to the person shopping for new clothing.

This dialogue goes on and on. The world is full of art, both in nature and in the man made. We, you and I, can be a part of this; make the effort, it’s worth it.

Kay Milam

For free art lessons go to http://www.milamstudios.com

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