A late summer storm, roiling with giant thunderheads, rises above the Catalina Mountains, just outside of Tucson. When everyone is heading for cover, Doug Miller, an Arizona landscape artist, is going the opposite direction!
“I’ve always loved thunderstorms,” he said, reminiscing about his boyhood in the Midwest. “The lighting is incredible after a rainstorm; it’s one of my favorite times to paint.” Born and reared in Hesston, Kansas, Doug spent his early childhood running free on his Grandfather Miller’s farm.
“I got a camera for my 9th birthday. I roamed along the creek beds, lined with cottonwoods and willow, and photographed creek scenes and sunsets. When I wasn’t doing that, I was playing basketball or sandlot baseball.” Doug played baseball for both Hesston College and Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, where he graduated with a BA in Art.
“I actually painted hard-edged abstract in college; two of my paintings were featured in the Senior exhibition; this honor and the encouragement of my parents, influenced me to pursue an art career. My mother, now age 92, still has my first painting of the Grand Canyon on her apartment wall. My love of the landscape and the breathtaking beauty of nature’s detail affected the development of my realistic style. I often feel as if I’m recording history; sand dunes that I’ve painted are now covered in vineyards. Old barns I sketched no longer exist. Vacation homes are planted where I once explored along a riverbank, surprising a whitetail or a great blue heron.”
The Kansas sunsets weren’t enough to keep Doug in Hesston. Post-graduation, he relocated to Washington state.
“I didn’t think I could make a living as an artist in Kansas, so I packed up my Ford Maverick and headed to Eastern Washington, where my uncle was row-crop farming with a large family corporation. I had an opportunity to farm and still pursue my painting in the off seasons.” Doug farmed a year, married his wife, Ann, and then returned to Kansas to work as a draftsman.
“My wife’s father, who lived in Eastern Washington as well, offered to lease 70 acres to us if we’d return to the state. Seeing little chance for advancement as a draftsman, I returned to farm for the next five years. This venture funded our trip to see the work of the ‘Masters’ in Europe and to build a house with a working studio.”
Then, in 1980, Mount Saint Helen’s blew its top and covered most of Eastern Washington in an inch of volcanic ash.
“I went through a divorce, sold a condo in Newport, Oregon, to stake me, and moved to Leavenworth, Washington, a quaint tourist town which is modeled after an authentic Bavarian village; this move launched my career as a full time artist.”
During the next 36 years, Doug remarried, welcomed his daughter, Amanda, into the world, opened four galleries in Leavenworth, and attended numerous Art Festivals. He has exhibited in other galleries, including the following:
Even after four decades as a full time artist, Doug continues to perfect his technique. He attends various workshops and the annual National Plein Air Convention.
“I’m more excited now than ever before, since I started Plein Air painting; these on-location sketches allow me to capture the true colors and lighting which I use to compose larger, more detailed studio paintings. I enjoy scouting trips to find unusual scenes with dramatic lighting. My wife, Barb, can attest to that. She hiked up to meet me after about two hours sketching on a forested creekbed.”
“I’ve had the most incredible experience,” I said. “Oh, that’s nice, Honey,” she answered, smiling. “No, really. A bear approached me three different times and then we had a stare down. I figured that I was going to die, so I just kept shooting photos to record my death for you.” “Thanks,” Barb replied, raising an eyebrow.
“My future goals are to paint both mountain and desert landscapes. I also want to be the best painter I can be! When Barb and I attend the symphony, I am so moved by the skill of the musicians. I strive to give my collectors that same feeling of awe that I feel, when I paint. Often, clients refer to my paintings as serene, peaceful, and inspiring. I love the simple things in life…great music, nature, and my family. I am grateful to do what I love most in life and share my joy through my artwork.