Rob Miller’s light filled landscape paintings have much in common with the post-impressionist spirit: exuberant colour, bold brush marks and a clear vision that celebrates the subject as much as the materials in use. We asked Rob Miller a set of questions to find out more about what inspires him and how he paints.
Rob Miller: ‘On the road to Cartmel’, oil on canvas, 30cm x 30cm
Lisa: Where and when did you learn to paint?
Rob: I was 10 or 11 years old and one afternoon when I was off school (a rare event) my Dad, a keen artist and illustrator, organised a small studio for me for a couple of hours on the landing of our home in Blackburn. He gave me a brush, oil paints, some medium and a board along with a basic lesson in oils. I had a tremendous fight with the slippery stuff but eventually from a sea of mud, a bright yellow yacht with white sails moved happily across blue grey waves and a far distant light house. I had found my way, after that learning was all about looking at the work of my favourite painters (not their lives) and becoming self taught.
Lisa: What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
Rob: I’ve recently moved to working with Pip Seymour’s oils and they are now my favourite medium. Great consistency, you get what it says on the label, the colour and tone is classic and there are a whole array of mediums that work. They are also very forgiving.
Rob Miller: ‘Striding Edge’, oil on canvas, 1000cmx750cm
Lisa: What qualities does a view need to have in order to make it interesting subject matter for a painting?
Rob: A paintable view for me needs to have drama and poetry that makes a change in my emotional state at the time of seeing. This is usually caused by a chance ray of light or a shift in colour or some geometrical nuance that catches my eye and makes a base for further exploration and a narrative.
Rob Miller: ‘A warm Autumn dawn over the lake to Blencathra’, oil on board, 30cm x 24cm
Lisa: Where is your favourite place to paint and why?
Rob: I love the open space to be found in uplands, my inspiration comes through walking through the land. I find I’m interested in the timeless movement that is inherent in the large skies, in the fragile ecosystems below them and rural communities.
Rob Miller: ‘Jaws of Borrowdale’, oil on board, 30x24cm
Lisa: How does the approach to painting a small work differ to the approach to painting a large work?
Rob: Much of my smaller work is started and finished outdoors in one or maybe two sittings. Larger works of 1 metre or above are normally based on a series of the smaller works and sketch book studies. My largest works were two triptychs each 2metres x 6metres of the Fells near Derwentwater in Cumbria. I spent a few months producing smaller works and many sketches before finally painting two modellos. The large works came together fairly quickly. I used Pip Seymour acrylics which had a nice buttery feel akin to oils. The works can be seen in the Stone Room, The Lingholm Estate, Portinscale, Keswick.
Rob Miller: ‘Rossall Beach Looking to Distant Fells’, 30x20cm, oil on board
Lisa: What elements of the creative process do you find most challenging?
Rob: One of the main challenges is the constantly changing environment and ever changing light when painting outdoors: it adds a sense of urgency to capturing it as it is. To respond to the challenge I felt that I needed to see how quickly I could record what I was seeing and feeling by concentrating on and giving more value to each brush mark and giving each mark importance.
Lisa: Who is your greatest painter hero?
Rob: I think Cezanne is up there for me as a painter hero along with a whole gang of very close seconds either living or dead. (That sounds a bit final!)
Rob Miller: ‘Pool on the River Hodder, Lancashire’, oil no board. 24cm x 30cm
Lisa: How do you know when a painting is finished?
Rob: This happens when eventually I pause what I am doing before making just a couple of smaller marks that balance out the contrast in the painting, almost like a semi tone in music creates harmonics (if you know what I mean); so that the eye sees the entire painting as one phenomena as opposed to a random collection of colours and form.
Rob Miller: ‘Northern Row’, oil on canvas, 50cm x 70cm
Lisa: What do you consider to be the most important thing to remember when painting out of doors?
Rob: For me the most important thing to remember when making a successful piece outdoors is to be organised and practiced in sorting out your gear and then to remember to single pointedly to focus purely on the visual.
Rob Miller: ‘Cliviger’, Oil on board, 30x24cm
Lisa: Where online or in the flesh can we view more of your work?
Rob: You can see my work online at www.robmillerartist.co.uk and on my blog atwww.robmillerpaintings.com
I show my work at a number of Northern Galleries – Waterstreet in Todmorden Yorkshire, Millyard at Saddleworth, Lancashire, Barefoot at Bishops Spar, Yorkshire, Vermillion at Knutsford Cheshire andG1art Windermere Cumbria or at my studio at Falcon Mill Bolton tel 07841140562 and at theLingholm Estate Portinscale Keswick Cumbria.
Rob Miller: ‘Lingholm Catbells Summit on a Late Summers Eve’, oil on board, 30 x 24cm