Creating art has been a part of Connie Miller’s whole life. It’s always been about fun and escapism. She never worried about expressing her feelings as much as she enjoyed the childlike wonder of doing the art.
Born in a small town in Missouri, Connie lived a normal childhood with her family on a farm. Attending school in a small rural town, it wasn’t until third grade when her family moved to Kansas City where she experienced what art could do for her soul.
“That move was an awakening for me,” she said. “I suddenly had elementary art classes, field trips to art galleries, museums and children’s concerts. It was a wonderful time for me, and like most kids, I was always most happy to get that new box of crayons at the beginning of every school year.”
While living in Kanas City, Connie began receiving a lot of support for her love of art. Her family took an interest in her art and encouraged her with books about art and learn-to-draw kits and lots of art supplies. Connie hadn’t planned on attending college due to the sheer cost of a four-year education but after learning about the first federally backed loans for college, she had her father co-sign for her loan, and off to Northwest Missouri College in Maryville, Missouri, she went, majoring in art education. She spent 14 years teaching K-12 art classes after graduating. She eventually went back to college and received her master’s degree in counseling, and she worked another 14 years in that capacity before retiring to pursue, yes, even more extra-curricular activities.
Connie paints what she considers to be Midcentury Pop Art with acrylic paint on canvas. “Acrylic paint was a reasonably new medium, cheaper than oil and easier to use, in the late sixties, when I was studying art in college,” she said. “Since I was constantly broke, cheap sounded good to me, and I learned to love the versatility of the medium.”
Connie enjoys painting larger works of art that allow her to immerse herself in the color. Pop Art contains vivid, bright colors that lend cheerfulness and optimism, which is what Connie also loves. It uses recognizable subjects as vehicles for color.
“For my subjects, I like people, animals, flowers and birds. Like the British Pop Art, my paintings are basically compositions that have asymmetrical balance, movement, form, line, visual texture and value. Unlike Pop Art, my people have no faces. I use the body and faces as abstract shapes and forms, which also allows the viewer to visualize themselves or others in the painting,” Connie said.
Her technique involves either taking or finding a photograph that contains a subject in a pose that interests her. Connie has learned to read body language and chooses subjects at first sight. She then completes a pencil drawing from the photo and from that, reduces the drawing to a composition of shapes, forms and lines. Connie uses ink to finish the second drawing. Then, she makes an overhead transparency to use to transfer this drawing to her canvas using a watercolor pencil, which can be washed off later.
Connie loves the process of painting and said her favorite painting is the one she’s working on at the moment.
“The old teacher in me loves the learning part of the process,” she said. “There is always something new happening.”
Where to find Connie Miller:
528 Main Street, Joplin
Elements Art Gallery
2207 West 7th Street, Suite 8, Joplin
Email [email protected] for studio visit.
Article by Amy Howe