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Artist Profile: Milisa Valliere

Artist Milisa Valliere is a painter whose gifts and experience are cosmically aligned with the legendary psychedelic band, The Grateful Dead, which made an art of combining music with light, and treating their audiences to explosions of color. In their song, “The Music Never Stopped,” singer Bob Weir compares a barely veiled autobiographical band to, “a rainbow full of sound.” Just as colors were integral to the band that would come, “high steppin’ into town,” music and color intersect in many of Valliere’s paintings in almost mystical, magical ways.

Chatham Bars Inn Farm Stand • Oil on birch panel • 12″ x 16″

In addition to her artistic skills and talents, Valliere developed something in her early childhood that she describes as a gift, “It is called synesthesia. It is a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses, stimulates many,” she explains. Different synesthetes experience their worlds in diverse ways—some have links between sight and touch, others perceive numbers as individually colored. Valliere’s variety falls into a category called chromesthesia. “For me, I see music as colors,” she says. “Sometimes it’s automatic, and it’s just there.” Because of her synesthesia’s unpredictable nature, when she prepares to paint from music, Valliere notes, “I always set up with colors that I can make any color out of. Notes have colors, chords have colors; these are all things that you can manipulate.” She says she’d love to have a bank of touchscreen computers, each full of different values and shades of various hues so that she could listen to music and touch the exact corresponding color. Then she could go back and recreate those colors with paint. “It would be such a tool,” she says. Valliere just finished a commissioned musical painting, so her process is fresh in her mind. First, she gave a close listen and focused only on colors…



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