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Viewing Blog: n.b.miller, Most Recent at Top
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An artist's adventures in Illustration-land.
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1. Self Portrait in a Cold Studio

I was just blogging on another blog about an artist who painted herself beautifully in a freezing studio and I was reminded of my own self-portrait from (I think) 2004 or 2005, "Self Portrait in a Cold Studio."Even though my studio is in my house, it's a chilly place. For some reason the radiator has never worked well, and the windows (on two sides) are drafty. In the dead of winter I often work while wearing a hat and puffy down vest, as pictured, as well as long underwear under my heavy clothing and fingerless gloves (not pictured.)  Even so I need lots of cups of hot tea to keep me going! This annual inconvenience makes me feel all hardy and suffering-nobly-for-my-art-ish.  ;-)

This painting "Self Portrait in a Cold Studio" has been exhibited several times in various venues including the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and still lives online on the Robert Genn website.

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2. Current work current show

I'm right now in a group still life exhibition at Artists' House Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. The gallery director there, Lorraine Riesenbach,  has been wonderful about including me in several group shows despite the fact that I am essentially on leave of absence from most of my other work obligations due to being in graduate school.  Although participating in the shows is a bit of a strain, one more flying ball in my very large juggling act, it's probably a very good thing not to lose the showing momentum.  Participating in showing work keeps you grounded in reality...and reality sometimes feels a very long way away from graduate school..land of theory! ;-) So I am grateful to her for her persistence and patience with me.

Here are the pieces in Beyond the Ordinary:

Big Magnolia, o/c, 24 x 20 inches, 2012

Monhegan Island Still Life, o/c, 12 x 16, 2012

Sage and Acorns, o/c, 11 x 14,  2012

Beyond the Ordinary Still Life

February 29 through April

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3. Summer Night

Monhegan Moonrise, oil on linen, 36 x 24, 2009

Illustration Friday is running a them that gets my heart pumping: midsummer night! How I long to be visiting the far northern reaches of Scandinavia one midsummer's day eve! Till then, Maine is about as north as I can get. This is the moon rising over the tip of Monhegan Island.

10 Comments on Summer Night, last added: 6/28/2011
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4. Shadow Paintng

Arrangement for Ukulele, oil on canvas, 16 x 16 inches, 2011
This week's prompt over at Illustration Friday is shadows. A good deal of this painting is about the shadows cast by the objects. So I hope it fits the bill. This piece was part of my one person show last month at Artists' House Gallery in Philadelphia. I believe the paint was still wet when I dropped it off. I hope I canpry it out of the frame because of course I now see several things I'd like to fix!

8 Comments on Shadow Paintng, last added: 6/12/2011
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Portland Delivery, oil & pencil on linen, 9 x 12, 2009
Bicycle is the theme today at Illustration Friday. I have only once painted a bicycle, and here it is! It's very uncharacteristic in style as well as in execution. I was so worried about depicting the bicycle accurately that I traced it carefully in pencil onto the primed canvas before "coloring it in", not at all my usual slap-happy style!

I had been showing at a gallery in Portland Maine (Susan Maasch Fine Art) and was dropping off some work one late afternoon when I saw this bicycle delivery guy sailing slowly past on his red bike. There was something about the light and the balanced motion of the scene that caught at my heart. I happened to have my camera in hand and click: almost unbelieveably I managed to catch the moment. I don't usually work from photos, depict action, work from tracing or even do any drawing at all before painting, but I did this time and was somewhat pleased with the result. Something to revisit in future perhaps.

I felt later, looking at the scene that it had a faint whiff of Christen Købke about it, which must have unconsciously caused the initial attraction. I have had a postcard of this painting on my studio wall for years.

4 Comments on BICYCLE, last added: 4/26/2011
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6. Last Autumn, Bottled

Green and Yellow, oil on gessoed ragboard, 8 x 10 inches, 2011
Bottled is this week's prompt at Illustration Friday. I love this little brown bottle which once held a nutritional supplement we were giving my son with autism when he was younger,  and I use it over and over again in my work. I think it signifies a simpler time, when we were full of hope and energy. Still have lots of hope, but less energy! ;-)  The coreopsis blossom and nasturtium leaves were from my late autumn garden. They lasted a long time in my chilly studio. The apple on the left only went into the compost bin a month or two ago...very long-lasting! This recently completed piece is on the invitation card for my upcoming show:

Nancy Bea Miller: recent work
May 4-29, 2011
Artists' House Galley
57 North 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA

First Friday:
May 6, 5 - 8:30pm
May 8, 1 - 4pm

8 Comments on Last Autumn, Bottled, last added: 4/14/2011
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7. Duet

Joined, oil on linen, 12 x 9 inches, 2011

DUET is this week's prompt at Illustration Friday. This is a painting I completed about a month ago and I think it fits the bill. I am in the Philly area and we sure do love our soft pretzels here! I am originally from NYC and we loved our pretzels there too, but the NYC pretzels are an entirely different configuration. In any shape, soft pretzels are best bought from a street vendor on a cold day,  eaten warm with a zigzag of mustard. If you get a blob of mustard on your cheek and someone kisses it off...all the better!

11 Comments on Duet, last added: 4/5/2011
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8. Surrender

Oliver on the Floor, oil on canvas, 20 x 42 inches, 1992-3
Surrender is the theme this week at Illustration Friday! Battling to meet several important deadlines and to endure a bunch of winter storms I had surrendered the idea of participating. But this morning, imminent deadlines met, storms having done their worst, I took a deep breath and decided I wanted to play after all. Better late than never!

The model for this painting was a young man I was friendly with at art school. He was immensely talented, but unfocused. I knew he needed money and so I was happy to pay him to pose now and then. He had long thick blonde hair and a Jesus beard, till one day he showed up completely shaven! We were in the middle of a painting too. Resigned, I put that one away and started this one, which seemed to better suit both our moods. Unfortunately, the shaving seemed to be indicative of some "casting off" process, and after only a couple of sessions he disappeared. Later I heard he'd headed to California.

The painting never got finished, but there is something about it I like, despite its rough, unfinished, state.

8 Comments on Surrender, last added: 2/4/2011
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9. Chicken

Free Range, oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches, 2009

This week the theme over at Illustration Friday is Chicken. At the risk of being a literalist, this painting from about a year ago sprang to mind. I painted this at the 2009 Plein Air at Beaver Farm event. It's a beautiful biodynamic working farm but it's a real farm too, nothing boutique about it. Nature red in tooth and claw and all that.  I was surprised when several people who first saw it said "Awww, sweet!" and "Isn't that cute?" While painting I had been thinking about these chickens, happily roaming the range and killing bugs and even small animals (apparently they love to eat field mice, baby snakes and voles!) as fast as their greedy beaks would allow, and how they would eventually be food themselves. Just cycle of life thoughts, nothing tragic, but certainly far removed from sweet or cute. I was thrilled when the person who bought it actually shivered and said "Ooh, this one is a bit creepy! Makes you think, doesn't it?" YES! Makes me think it certainly found the right home, this painting. ;-)

15 Comments on Chicken, last added: 1/18/2011
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10. Déjà Vu

Pears and a Pot, 11 x 14, oil on linen, 2008

Not really sure what to put in for Illustration Friday this week. The theme is Déjà Vu, the feeling that you have already experienced a moment which is currently happening. Who hasn't felt this, but it seems a tough concept to handle visually.  This comes close, I think, to expressing that feeling that creeps up on you... a concealed memory projected onto the present moment. A little unnerving!

16 Comments on Déjà Vu, last added: 1/12/2011
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11. Resolutions

Hazel and Katie, oil on canvas 28 x 44, 2007
RESOLUTIONS is this week's theme over at Illustration Friday. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, but taking stock and perhaps making plans is always a good idea at any time. Hope it is more than just once a year! My resolution of late is simply to go deeper. Deeper within and also deeper without. Well, I know what I mean, in any case! ;-)

This painting from a few years back seems apt for the theme. Interestingly, it was recently featured on the fantastically interesting blog Women Painting Women. I was thrilled, surprised and grateful that it caught the eye of the WPW folks.

Resolutions or no resolutions, Happy New Year everyone!

6 Comments on Resolutions, last added: 1/4/2011
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12. Savour

Lobster with Brioche, oil on canvas, 2009, 20 x 24 inches


10 Comments on Savour, last added: 11/30/2010
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13. Burning

The rose is burning
in its watery vessel-
searing my eyes

Tangerine Rose
, 7 x 5 inches, oil on linen mounted to panel
This piece will be on display in this upcoming exhibit:
Small Works 2010
Artists' House Gallery
December 3 to December 24, 2010
Two receptions:
First Friday:
December 3,
5 - 8:30pm
December 5,
1 - 4pm

Artists' House
57 North Second Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 923-8440

7 Comments on Burning, last added: 11/16/2010
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14. Philly Photo Day exhibition

Nancy Bea Miller, Sarah Barr, Lisa Minitz at the

Philly Photo Day Exhibition
November 11 - 21, 2010
Philadelphia Photo Art Center
Grey Area, Crane Arts Building
1400 N. American Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
267.324.3268 (fax)

I do a lot of photography in addition to painting. I don't consider myself a professional, even though I have had several photographs bought for book-covers, magazines and websites, and I am fairly regularly commissioned to take product shots, art shots and head shots. But I still think of it more as a hobby. I don't really know what I am doing. Photography simply satisfies my unflagging impulse for observation and appreciation of life and self-expression, and in a quick-n-easy way too! I can't be painting 24/7 but I do have a camera to hand at all moments. You never know when something will reach out and grab your heart. When that happens I reach out and grab my camera. As Baudelaire put it:
To glorify the cult of images (my great, my only, my earliest passion)

This is the first time I've exhibited my photography in a gallery setting. On October 28, Philly Photo Day, photographers took their best shot within the Philadelphia city limits and sent it in to the Philadelphia Photo Art Center. The work was catalogued, compiled and printed out on huge banners and hung.

"Leaf Blow on Clearfield Street". On Philly Photo Day I happened to be driving through the East Falls section of the city when a sudden gust of wind whipped the leaves into a hail of gold. I checked behind me, saw there was nobody coming up and quickly shot the scene. Talk about driving while distracted (just kidding, I of course, stopped the car while shooting.) Steering wheels make good tripods! Rotopods? :-) Prints can be ordered through the PPAC: $10 for a 5 x 7, $20 for an 8.5 x 11. If you're interested in purchasing a copy of "Leaf Blow" contact the PPAC and tell them you want image number 168.

Philly Photo Day Exhibition

November 11 - 21
Philadelphia Photo Art Center
Grey Area, Crane Arts Building
1400 N. American Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
267.324.3268 (fax)

It is truly an amazingly interesting show, giving a wildly varied portrait of a day. It should interest Philadelphia historians and sociologists as well as artists and anyone who just loves Philadelphia!

2 Comments on Philly Photo Day exhibition, last added: 11/15/2010
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15. Afterwards, Red Velvet

Winged Cupcake
A friend took me out for lunch last week. This is a rare event because I don't actually like to go out to lunch...it disrupts my working day and I have little enough time as it is. I'll go out for breakfast or dinner, but lunch, almost never. Still, a number of factors lined themselves up and off we went to lunch. Great place, the food was absolutely delicious and Roz suggested we have dessert too. I looked at all the gorgeous baked goods lined up like sugary little soldiers in the lighted case and knew a fierce hunger...to paint, not eat. So I had a cup of tea while Roz ate a sweet, and afterwards I carried my dessert home in a little box to paint. Which I did. Yum.

Winged Cupcake, oil on canvas on panel, 4 x 6 inches

12 Comments on Afterwards, Red Velvet, last added: 11/9/2010
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is the title of this recent painting. I am the founding director of Plein Air for Camphill, a non-traditional plein air event that benefits a program for teens and young adults with special needs in the Phoenixville, PA area. There is one big day of art-making in August when the bulk of the fifty-odd invited artists come to one location and paint/draw/sculpt/carve/video (and visit and feast.) However, organizing artists is not really like herding cats, it is like herding FERAL cats! So I usually arrange a "pre-make-up" day for people who know in advance they can't make the big day and also a make-up day after the event. This painting was done at the pre-make-up day in June. It was squally weather, with streaming sun and gusty showers, clouds threatening or benevolent constantly racing across the sky! We went ahead and held the event despite the iffy weather.

I was too busy organizing to paint while people arrived and did their thing and had a communal lunch. After lunch the skies really went dark and all the other artists left. I stayed to talk to the school administrator, when suddenly the skies cleared. I'd already set up my painting gear and so I broke off the conversation abruptly and raced to my easel. I painted like mad for less than an hour. When rain started bouncing off the oil paint I knew my "window" had closed and I packed up and left. At the time I felt the piece was unfinished, and that maybe I'd do some touch-up back in the studio. But when I looked at it, a day or two later, it felt complete. I did nothing more than varnish it a few months later and put it in a frame. I was thrilled when it sold at the event reception, and to some well-known collectors too!
Sometimes it's good to be undecided.

Undecided Sky, 11 x 17 inches, oil on gessoed wood, 2010

15 Comments on RACING CLOUDS, last added: 10/26/2010
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17. Foggy Day Tree

I went out painting today at Valley Forge. The plan was to meet up with another artist. When I arrived, to be honest, had I been by myself I would have called it quits after one look at the grey misty sky and one lash of the cold wet breeze. That's the beauty of partnership. There Liz was, already setting up to paint, so I stifled my misgivings and did likewise. And what a nice surprise!

I did not stay long because my hands became numb and my nose turned into a faucet, but I was really somewhat pleased with my efforts. Liz and I decided we'd try never to be deterred by weather, but to adopt "Just paint it!" as our motto. Or maybe "Just say no to not painting."? ;->

Foggy Day Tree, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches

4 Comments on Foggy Day Tree, last added: 10/22/2010
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18. Oldie but Goodie

Looking through some old files and saw this little cutie...a birthday party cupcake homemade by me for one of the little boy's birthdays. Cupcakes are so in these days, but they tend to be much larger, with a lavish crown of icing. I don't think anybody uses sprinkles anymore either...a blast from the past! And, in truth, this was probably only five or six years ago...how times change! Still sweet though. ;-)

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19. Little Silver Bag

Little Silver Bag with Red Apple, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches, 2010

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20. Green Jello

Green Jello: First Attempt, oil on linen on wood, 5 x 7 inches. 2010

I found Jello to be a surprisingly challenging subject! It is translucent, reflective, smooth, and textured, with lots of inner goings on: bubbles and fissures and air pockets.

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21. Three Eyes

Potato with Three Eyes, oil on linen on wood, 5 x 7 inches, 2010

Just realized the theme over at Illustration Friday this week is subterranean, and by a stretch of the imagination this vegetable which grew underground fits the bill.

5 Comments on Three Eyes, last added: 3/16/2010
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22. greenery-yallery

Greenery-Yallery Apple, oil on linen on wood, 5 x 7 inches, 2010

I had a hard time with this one for unknown reasons. Still not really finished. But I've already spent six times as much time on it as I wanted to (happens!) Scrap-heap bound.

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23. Quick Sketch

Quick Little Kayti, oil on linen on wood, 7 x 5 inches, 2010

From my portrait class last night. Unfortunately I'd left at home the big painting of this model, as well as all my brushes! Ever have one of those days? I did have my paints and luckily a small linen panel...so I raided the supply cupboard and found some brushes used in the kid's classes (tempera bristles). Despite these handicaps, I think this little dashed-off sketch has a certain something. The model is much prettier than this, of course, but I caught a certain intensity in her expression.

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24. Happy First Day of Spring!

Crocus in an Egg Cup
, oil on linen on wood, 4 x 6 inches, 2010

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25. Trail Light

Light in the Forest
There's a beautiful little piece of woods near us, called Rolling Hill Park. Lots of meandering trails. This one leads past an old, roofless ruin. I was lucky enough to be there yesterday just when the light was filling the old stone structure so that it absolutely glowed! Fits in by chance with today's Illustration Friday theme of Trail.

Light in the Forest (Ruin in Rolling Hill Park), oil on linen on wood, 7 x 5 inches, June 2010

6 Comments on Trail Light, last added: 6/6/2010
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