"Painting" by Greg Miller | VailDaily.com

"Painting" by Greg Miller

Aggie Zaremba
Greg Miller at his studio in West Vail.

Like Picasso, he took his first painting class in a cradle, while watching his mother paint her trees and flowers.

“My mom was a naturalist,” said Miller. “She taught me how to paint.”

He started to play with colors and brushes at the age of 10. By 16, he was teaching pottery to kids.

His first artistic challenge was to copy works of painting masters like Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet or Edouart Manet. Miller still treats their works as a model since, according to him, they are embodiments of extraordinary skills and a source of interesting techniques. However, he gradually develops his own style.

“It is like growing up,” he said. “You start learning by watching other people. Then, you imitate them. Next step is having your own ways.”

Before he moved to Colorado, Miller lived in South Carolina, where he created his first painting series called “Penguin Contemplations”. The series was inspired by Stephen Crane’s poetry and it is a collection of more than 20 images, full of symbolic motives. At first sight, they look random, yet all carry the same message, saying right now we experience a scientific revival.

“I think we have a scientific renaissance now, but not a cultural one. And that’s exactly what my paintings are about,” said Miller.

After these first surrealistic attempts, which according to him were “too academic”, he turned to portraits.

“They look kind of plain and dark, but my models were all tired and depressed,” he said.

The exception to the rule is his cat, which adopted himself when Miller was still living in South Carolina. He later on became one of Miller’s favorite subjects to paint.

Miller came to Colorado’s to manage one of Denver’s art galleries.

“It didn’t work out the way I wanted so I decided to move to Vail,” he said. “It’s a great place for an artist to live – like a fantasy land. I am thrilled with Colorado colors. Additionally, I can finally do plein air. Carolina’s environment was so hostile that I could only paint indoors since I am afraid of snakes and spiders.”

Fascinated with new surroundings, he became a devoted landscape painter.

Miller usually works on his paintings for two hours in the morning and then in the afternoon. He comes back to the same spot several times before he finishes his canvass in the studio he built himself.

“This place was covered with garbage,” he said. “I cleaned it and built everything from scratch. The floor (decorated with mythological characters) is covered with latex paint. That way my legs don’t get tired when I stand painting.”

Besides painting himself, Greg Miller teaches painting.

“I always ask my students what they are interested in,” he said. “If they want to paint something more realistic, we stay in the studio, otherwise I take them outside.”

He doesn’t believe in talent and thinks everybody can learn how to paint.

“Painting is a mathematical process since you have to be very precise with shadows and perspective,” he said. “I think it’s all about attitude and hard work. You simply have to have faith.”

His goal is to be a successful artist himself and make other people feel passion for painting.

“The valley lacks creativity,” he said. “I don’t see a reason why we couldn’t have more construction workers and restaurant managers painting after they got off work. I think we stand in path too much. Just go out and do it- it’s all that takes.”

Greg Miller is one of the artists whose works can be seen during the Vail Valley Art Studio Tour. The event kicks off with the opening reception August 21 at 5 p.m. in Plaza Gallery and will last through September 1. Studio tour days are August 24 and 25, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information call (970) 476-4477.

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