Painter Milton Brightman is a very traditional artist — traditional in every sense as defined in the dictionary as that which is handed down from age to age as in traditional history, songs or stories or, that which follows or conforms to tradition by adhering to past practices or established conventions.
Brightman was born a few years after World War Two in Acushnet, Massachusetts. And, since his town didn’t have a high school, he attended school in the city next door and graduated from New Bedford High School in 1967. As with many young men of his generation, he did a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. After his hitch in the U.S. Navy, he attended New Bedford’s fabled Swain School of Design to study painting.
Soon after graduating, he found employment as an artist-in-residence from 1976 to 1978 with the New Bedford School Department. A year or so later, he went to work for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in the Forests and Parks division, where he remained until his retirement, painting all the while.
As the department’s regional coordinator, he was responsible for state properties as far north as Rehoboth State Forest; Nasketucket Bay State Reservation to the east; and Horseneck Beach to the south; and to the west, the Fall River Heritage State Park. Everything in between including Freetown State Forest, the Southeastern Bioreserve and the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey were also in his charge.
Many have tried to pigeonhole Brightman as both an artist and painter. His work is a mixture — depending on his subject matter and the size — that recollects the influences of the Bruegel family, Jean-François Millet, Vincent van Gogh and Albert Pinkham Ryder, to name a few.