Getting Started in Watercolor
Interview with Sue Miller
Interview with Sue MillerArtist Spotlight
by Constanza Ehrenhaus
Sue, tell us about your formation as an artist.
I started to paint at a very young age. My father was an art major in college and got me interested in drawing and painting at a very young age. We would go out painting together by the ocean in New England and he would teach me how to see as an artist .Very special memories for me. He was a huge inspiration in my life. Then after high school I attended South Eastern Massachusetts University now called U-Mass -- I majored in fine arts. It was my Father that also got me interested in commercial art . I remember him saying to me, "Everything you look at is designed by an artist."
I was lucky and was given a beginners art job at a local department store in their art department and learned all about advertising art and how to do it. I had some wonderful teachers. I stayed in that job until I was able to get enough experience and then went on to other commercial art jobs in art departments and eventually advertising agencies with me becoming the art director. I always loved being able to go to work full time and draw and create things. I did that professionally for almost 20 years.
Then shortly after we bought our home I had a career change and opened up The Magic Palette Art Studio in my home where I began teaching drawing and painting in my home studio. That business grew so fast and it wasn't long when I had 130 students coming here every week for art lessons. What a hectic schedule I had. I love teaching. I love to share my drawing and painting skills with other people. For me drawing and painting are very relaxing and a great escape from the world that seems so full of turmoil. It's very rewarding seeing my students evolve into great artists. Many of them have moved on to get fantastic jobs themselves in the art world.
You do faery art and Christian art. How do the two of them come together? Are they conflicting or complementary?
During my life time I always seem to paint series of things. I believe I was painting swans and wildlife art when we first bought our home which is on a lake almost 30 years ago. Then from the swans and wildlife I moved on to painting Angels.. Then from Angels I went on painting Fairies, mermaids and other fantasy type characters. It's fun to explore different subjects. I also have always enjoyed painting the holidays and seasons. So I combine them all to celebrate and welcome in each new holiday or season. I have a very massive collection of original paintings.. I also am licensed to several companies.
How would you define your style?
How do I define my style? I think you might call it Fantasy Art work. I love to create my own little world with my art.
You stick to traditional in this age of digital art. What do you prefer in traditional media that you have not switched?
Traditional art versus digital art. Yes I paint in a traditional way using watercolors and some mixed media. I love the way it feels to me. I have done it so long that the act of painting comes to me like breathing. Paintings just flow out of me.
They say one is one's worst critic. If you have to critique your art, what would you want to improve? What do you feel is your best asset?
Yes of course I am always trying to improve my art work. I am always painting and I was always taught the more you paint the better you get. 10% inspiration 90% perspiration. You have to stick with it. I have a passion for my art so for me it's easy, because I just find it relaxing to work on a painting. But yes I always want to try to improve. I believe my best asset is that I still have the passion and the drive to keep wanting to improve. I hope I never lose that.
How do you find this financial crisis has affected you as an artist?
Yes of course I have been affected by the economy slowing down. I definitely do not have as many art students as I used to. Many folks in our town have lost their jobs and with the gas and oil prices being so high and unemployment I would be fibbing if I said things were like they used to be. I had a fantastic run with my teaching. I am very grateful for that. But I have never done my art for the money. I do it because I have a passion for it.
I may have less students but I find I have more time for my painting and I have discovered another passion: My photography. I live on a gorgeous lake and I have rediscovered all it's beautiful. Now that I have a little more time I find I get lost at the bottom of the yard photographing all the wildlife that visits everyday. I also have befriended a beautiful swan called Cob. He lost his mate last spring and was so depressed all last summer. So I have kind of taken him under my wing, and in turn he gives me the most gorgeous photos. I have a new interest in painting the swan again. This guy is at my house all the time dancing for me and flapping his wings in the most interesting of poses. He actually eats right out of my hand and comes when I whistle for him. It's a very magical relationship that I can't even explain. Many folks on the lake are a little afraid of him probably because he is a wild swan. But for me, he's like an old best friend. So far this year he has graced the cover of 3 magazines. "Voice of Choice" magazine used a photo of him that I took him on their winter cover. Then Wisdom Magazine used one of my new paintings of him on their May cover. Just recently Pathways magazine which is in the Washington DC area used the same painting I did of him on their June issue. So my swan Cob is a cover boy. I also recently signed my photos of him to Jannz Crafts. They make beautiful cross stitch kits of my wildlife art photos. I just finished a new painting of my swan and a fairy catching a ride on him. So now I am combining the swans with the fairy art. I have so many photos for reference that some times I have a hard time deciding what to paint next. For me art is my life and life is my art.
Where can our readers find your art?
Please stop by my gift shop at www.suemillerart.com.
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