Nathan Miller

Born 1980, Tampa, Florida, USA
Lives in: Covington, Georgia, USA
Describe your art in three words: Harmony, Conservation, Coexistence
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Florida

Remembrance of a Lost Legend - Acrylic on board 24 x 36 in.

"I am an imaginative realist painter of both wildlife and people. I use acrylic paints and primarily prefer working with smooth surfaces like gesso board so that every detail is visible. My work explores elements of design, symmetry, symbolism, and concepts dealing with our relationship with other species."

What themes does your work involve?
Today I am working on a new series that explores wild animals and indigenous human cultures from around the world. And while this series considers the stories, traditions and challenges that surround wildlife, it also emphasizes the need to protect and coexist with wildlife. This series celebrates both animals in the wild and indigenous cultures. Despite the history of conflict, as human populations increase and wildlife populations decrease, there will need to be a shift toward coexistence.
Describe your creative process.
When I begin a painting, I first do a significant amount of research on a topic. I learn more about the culture or species that I am depicting in my work. I create a digital mockup with many photos until I have a layout that I like. Once the mockup is complete, I begin sketching it out on gesso board. And only then, once the layout is ready, do I begin to paint. The painting can take many hours, weeks, and sometimes even months, to complete. It's a very meticulous process. Even when the painting is complete, the process continues with varnishing the art, preparing it for print and, finally, choosing the frame.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Humanity has been disconnected from the natural world for far too long. This outer and inner disconnection from nature is causing the world around us to fall apart. While we distract ourselves with our own pursuits, and as we place ourselves above all else, ecosystems disappear. Somehow, we must find a way to reconnect with the natural world, to appreciate the value of wildlife, and see ourselves as a part of the ecosystem. I find value in all emotional life, and I enjoy depicting that life in different scenarios. In fact, I’m particularly interested in stories that pertain to both animals and people.
I hope my work can, in some small way, help others value nature, animals, and the impact of narrative realism in art.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I think art fell from grace in the 20th century. It was a period of rebellion from standards that took centuries to perfect. Wall accents were given more glory than thought provoking, masterful creations of genius and wonder. The juvenile and ridiculous were valued more than the beautiful and skillful. Today, fortunately, great art, I believe, is making a comeback. So, what is great art? I think great art is the art that requires time, practice, and energy to perfect. It's the art that is considered masterful, not because of a propped-up name due to gimmicks and fame, but because of standards of design, composition, color, light, dark, shape, and the nature of creativity, meaning, and thought-provoking emotion. Good art has elements of this. Great art has all of it.
What is the role of the artist today?
I can't say what the role of every artist is, because every artist has their own story and their own purpose. But I can say that one thing artists have in common is the desire to speak their truth through their art. Artists simply wish to create - to share what is in them or, perhaps, what comes through them. The challenge today is how much of an artist's work is genuine, and how much is a response to what's marketable. I don't fault artists for attempting to find a balance between the two. If art is a career choice, then it's important for the art to be marketable. The trick is to find a way to speak authentically through one's art in a way that resonates with a particular audience.
(Nathan Miller) Voice of Nature - Acrylic on panel 24 x 30 in.
Forest Dream - Acrylic on canvas 36 x 36 in.
The Tale of Waghoba - Acrylic on board 24 x 36 in.
Legend of the Jaguar Shaman - Acrylic on board 24 x 36 in.


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist