Nancy Hughes Miller graduated from North Carolina State's College of Design where she studied both design and fine art fundamentals. In 2007, after working as a graphic designer for many years, she fulfilled a dream and became a full-time artist. Nancy resides in Cary, North Carolina and also spends much time at Sunset Beach, in the southeastern part of the state, near where she grew up. Here she gets inspiration for her contemporary coastal landscape paintings. Mostly self-taught, Nancy describes her art as glimpses of everyday nature — she paints from observation, memory and imagination.
On beach walks and while kayaking I'm looking around, snapping photos — combining bits and pieces to create my compositions. I work with what nature shows me, its simplest elements — experimenting with color, light and shapes until a sense of movement and atmosphere emerges.
As a way of giving back to her community, Nancy has donated many paintings over the years. Some of the non-profits she's supported include Raleigh's Artspace and Visual Art Exchange, Cary Visual Art, Alzheimer's Association of Eastern NC, Veteran's Project Coming Home, Habitat for Humanity-Orange County, The North Carolina Museum of Art, Wake County SPCA, NCSU Vet School, Cary Academy, Durham Academy, Hospice of Wake County, Durham Art Guild, Prevent Child Abuse NC, Raleigh's Alley Cats Feline Rescue Group and UNC Children’s Hospital.
before the Live Art Auction, Visual Art Exchange Gala, Dorton Arena, Raleigh, NC, March 7, 2020
The landscape is not just what I focus on with my paintings. The sky and clouds can be dominant in my compositions and I challenge myself to depict them realistically — in a unique way. I get a serenity from looking up at the sky and I’m inspired to express this in my art. Sometimes it feels like I’m painting clouds over and over again, but as I do, I know I’m honing my skills. With so much artistic license allowed, it’s fun to work at getting something both ethereal and ephemeral!
I hope my scenes of inlet waters winding to the ocean or those with large clouds on the horizon are a calming influence on the viewer. As a North Carolina landscape artist, I have a love for my state's barrier islands— but not just for their sandy beaches. To me, relaxing and soothing to view are their tidal, salt marshes separating the islands from the mainland. I find them especially inspiring in mid-summer, when the marsh grass turns brilliant yellow-green. I feature this chartreuse-like color in many of my marsh paintings, combined with varying colors in the sky and water.
I love to paint the wetlands, where the water rises and falls with the tides. I pay homage to the fragile yet resilient marsh ecosystem of the barrier islands. The marsh provides habitat for fish and birds, it buffers the mainland from storm surges, filters downstream pollution and is a place of inspiring beauty.
I hope my art connects with people and evokes fond memories of a family beach vacation. Families have traditions around their annual week at the beach — they rent the same cottage the same summer week at the same coastal community for years and years. Some say my art takes them back to special times and places — a reminder of being carefree and relaxed.
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