Thursday, September 5, 2019

DPW Spotlight Interview: Brian Miller

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Brian's painting "1125: Two Tears" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Brian's DPW Page:

Making flipbooks with the corners of all my notebooks. Art school. Degrees in animation and filmmaking. Professional graphic design career. Children's book illustration. Font design. Web design and development. Then a switch to programming and problem-solving. Discovering mixed media art journaling and the freedom to play with paints, ink sprays, stencils, monoprinting, collage, and mark-making. Teaching art classes online and through in-person workshops. It has all been good and fun. But I'm not sure that I really and truly FELT like an artist until I began a daily painting practice in March 2016. Committing to making a small painting each day has really allowed me to develop my personal expressive style with new freedom. (click to read more)

Instagram: @brianmillerart
Location: Orlando, FL USA

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have been an artist all of my life. I went to art school in the 80s, and I have a degree in animation and filmmaking. But I didn’t really start painting seriously until a few years ago after my wife Debbie and I took an art workshop with Lisa Daria Kennedy. It was on abstract flowers -- but unknown to us it actually was a not-so-subtle sales pitch for daily painting. After the workshop we said let’s try creating a painting every day for a month -- then two months -- then three months… and now we have painted almost every day for the last 3 1/2 years. Over 1,250 paintings each.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

Since my painting career didn’t really start until the last three or so years I haven’t really had any stops. Before this season, I would often want to paint and make art, but I never made the time for it. I was too busy with work and the other obligations of life.

1125: Two Tears
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Brian's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

I mostly paint in acrylics. When I travel, I do a little watercolor or gouache just because it is so portable.  Recently, I am dabbling in oils. I really want to paint in oils, but the lightbulb has not fully clicked yet. Right now, it doesn’t seem as comfortable as my acrylic work.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Acrylic has really stuck -- it is my go-to medium.

1166: Cool Drink
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I’m really excited about getting better with oil painting – I do want to master this medium.

Who or what inspires you most?

As far as inspiration, the pre-Impressionists, Impressionists, and post-Impressionists are like light and air to me.  A few years ago, Debbie and I were visiting the National Gallery in London.  We had been enjoying the Sainsbury wing and the works of the Old Masters (1200s – 1700s) and we crossed a walkway that took us into a room of work by Manet and Degas and Sargent – and I literally felt like I could breathe more deeply -- the light and life of the colors, the bold brushwork, the freedom to break the rules.  It was so beautiful that it made me want to cry.  These artists and others (Matisse, Van Gogh, and more contemporary artists like John Button, Kiata Mason, and Sarah Sedwick) also motivate my current fascination with painting the still life. I love being able to set up my own scene to paint from. It seems like there are endless possibilities there. I think I have become more of an observational painter lately. I like to look at something and then paint from that. I am not a literal painter, though. I will often take liberties with what I see. I feel I have the complete freedom to reinterpret the subject matter any way I want. As an artist, I am responsible for the painting, not the source material.

1251: Dots of Flowers
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

For me procrastination is finding some non-essential busy work. I like to “re-organize” my studio, create an improvement on our website, setup an inventory system, or refile all the digital copies of my work as ways to divert from the anxiety of the blank canvas. All these things are needed, but I will often do one of the easy things when I should just be creating the art.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

My wife and I wake up every morning at 5 AM, hit the coffee to brew, put on some music or a podcast, and get to our easels. We like to get our painting done first because this is what we consider the most important part of the day. The creativity feeds our souls for the day. If we waited till after work, we would have a harder time getting started. Also, I cannot underestimate the blessing it is having a spouse who is on the same journey. We are able to encourage each other.

1242: Feeling a Bit Blue
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I like to work in series. I usually gather a grouping of items to paint at the beginning of the week. I then try to paint variations on this during the week. If all else fails, I choose flowers. Not because I am a flower guy, but because they are full of variety and interesting shapes and colors. Also, let’s face it – they are beautiful to have around.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I try to take continuing education workshops at least twice each year.  These opportunities to immerse myself in a learning experience always invigorate my own art practice.  Also, we usually participate in several group art shows each year.  Sometimes these shows have themes that are established by the curator, other times, we get to set the themes.  Either way, working toward a show is a good exercise for me to explore new themes or techniques or push myself in some way artistically.

1182: Patterns and Shadows
(click to view)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Personally, for me the act of painting helps me to slow down. It is a quiet time in my day where I can observe and respond without a lot of external pressures. Until I started to paint seriously, I did not know this was missing from my life. Also, not directly about art-making, but related -- I love teaching art. We have been teaching a six-week course in daily painting at a local community art school for the last year and a half. We have had seasoned artist and beginners in our classes, and I really enjoy trying to find ways to encourage each artist with their art-making goals. Early next year Debbie and I are planning on offering a series of on-line classes.

What makes you happiest about your art?

The first thing that I need to mention is how excided I am about having a body of work. For a long part of my adult life I dreamed of having a large collection of art that I had created. But mostly it was a dream. Being able to look back and see the path of over 1,250 paintings makes me proud of what I have been able to accomplish.  On a technique specific level, I absolutely love painting the negative space around something – a tree, flower petals, or the area through a glass. I think this is so magical – how you can shape something by painting what is not there. It always makes me happy.

Thanks, Brian!

© 2019 Sophie Marine

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