Portrait of the Artist // Experience the art of story in Glen Miller’s figurative works
Glen Miller’s layered narratives about nature and the human experience are rooted in his life but not expressly about it. Miller confesses, “The best storyteller is someone reflective, and maybe with a little age.” Although his paintings are open to interpretation, they evoke peaceful environmental landscapes that usually include an older male figure, not central to the picture but central to the storytelling component of the work. Miller’s illusive shadowy figure, aged and with the wisdom of years, beckons the viewer to sit a spell and imagine a life unwinding in tales on a Sunday afternoon as if one was sitting at their grandfather’s knee.
Go Figure // Many of Miller’s landscapes include illusive forms, encouraging the audience to create a personal experience through his art.
“My art comes from a personal place and reflects fictions from selected truths of my current experience,” says Miller, who started teaching painting and drawing in 1979. The artist is highly attuned with nature and manages to get to the woods almost every weekend. It’s in this place that he often hears the quiet voices of inspiration. “The woods are a sanctuary for me where you can hear yourself think. Nature has an honest reason for doing what it does,” says Miller. Sit with him long enough, and you will hear stories from his days growing up in East Tennessee and attending a four-room school. Appalachia is where the artist began an enduring love of nature, stories, and place that has manifested in a lifelong career in art.
Miller is hesitant to recite memories or provide concrete examples regarding the narrative content of his work. He enjoys the idea of ambiguity and the anonymous figure that participates in his fabricated physical world. He says that people bring their stories to his paintings and those stories create a personal experience far from his own. “I don’t concern myself with the translation of the narrative; it’s the experience the viewer wants it to be,” asserts Miller.
With talents that extend painting into music and home design, the prolific artist plays five instruments and recently spent three years designing and building his home. His demeanor is calm, mild, and humble, but underneath his slim exterior, Miller is brimming with ideas for the next painting or the next home to build. He spends six to eight hours in the studio daily and teaches drawing and painting at Furman University. His persistent work ethic grew from an early realization that he would have to work hard to achieve his goals. Unlike the serenity of his narrative landscapes, Miller works passionately writing and sketching before painting. He says, “Sometimes the titles come before the art begins.” He possesses a determination that sets him apart from many artists by setting an unrelenting pace for himself with twenty solo exhibits since 2003.
Now in his sixties, Miller reflects on how this new stage in life has changed him and shaped his art. He professes an enjoyment of the wisdom that age brings and insists he will still be a productive artist. He taps his foot in rhythm and quotes lyrics to a 1988 country song announcing, “I’m just a wave, not the water.” He says, “There is a peace that comes with realizing you can’t go back. And, finding joy is more important. It’s there, but maybe not the way you planned it.”
Glen Miller is represented by Hampton III Gallery in Taylors. See more of his work at glenmiller.net.