Inspired by beauty in the landscape, I seek a bold yet quiet impression of everyday nature — as the colors of sky, earth and water converge on the horizon.
From southeastern North Carolina, now living in the Triangle, Nancy Hughes Miller has been a full-time artist since 2007. She was a graphic designer for more than 25 years after graduating from North Carolina State’s School of Design. Miller remains influenced by the multifaceted design education she received there and by her studies in figure drawing, photography and art history. A lifetime of creative endeavors, her design background and workshops also shape Miller as an artist, but primarily she hones her craft through self instruction and practice.
Her love of the natural world — its beauty and fragility — inspires Miller to create her paintings. With oil paint, she explores color and light, shapes and forms, while rendering a contemporary landscape in her unique style. Painting from memory and imagination, especially coastal landscapes, is her passion. Places ingrained in her mind — the beaches and marshes of North Carolina — are reflected in her art. However, she wishes her paintings to be less location-specific and more an impression of everyday nature — where the colors of sky, earth and water converge on the horizon.
I create images from my heart — painting from observation and memory with a dose of imagination.
Unspoiled, desolate beaches were the norm before cars, high-rise bridges, condos and homes packed the ocean-sides with people. When I paint I feel I'm recreating scenes from long ago — rare and endangered landscapes with nothing man-made imposing on the view. Only through my imagination are most of my paintings possible. I hope I'll always find inspiration in the world we have now.
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 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.
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.
As a way of giving back to my community, I have donated many paintings over the years. Some of the non-profits I've 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.
Juried Live Auction Artist, March 7, Visual Art Exchange Annual Gala, Raleigh, NC
Anything Goes 2019 opening October 4, Litmus Gallery, 312 W. Cabarrus St, Raleigh, NC - winner BEST IN SHOW
Curated auction artist, Boots and Blues, Cary Visual Art gala fundraiser, March 30, Cary, NC
Juried Live Auction Artist, February 16, VAE Annual Gala, Raleigh, NC
Juried Live Auction Artist, November 17, Collectors Gala, Artspace, Raleigh, NC
Painting Demonstration, June 16, 11-2 pm, Sunset River Marketplace, Calabash, NC
Coastal Moods, opening reception May 19, 3-5 pm, Little Art Gallery, Cameron Village, Raleigh
c o a s t s c a p e s, February-April, Liquid State, 1908 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC
Juried Live Auction Artist, For the Love of Art Gala, Visual Art Exchange, February 10, Downtown Raleigh Marriott
Juried Live Auction Artist, November 18, Collectors Gala, Artspace, Raleigh, NC
Affordable Art Fair NYC, UGallery artist, September 13-17, 2017
Corridor Gallery featured artist, August-October 2017, Artspace, Raleigh, NC
Cloudspotting, April-July 2017, 1251 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY
Art Ball Gala, February 11, Cary Visual Art, NC Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
Juried Live Auction Artist, November 19, Collectors Gala, Artspace, Raleigh, NC
Guest solo exhibition, February 26- March 22, Cary Gallery of Artists, Cary, NC
For the Love of Art Gala, Featured Artist, February 20, Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC
Corridor Gallery featured artist, December 2015-February 2016, Artspace, Raleigh, NC
Community Exchange Exhibit, August-October, AJ Fletcher Foundation, Raleigh, NC
Colorscapes, solo exhibition, Little Art Gallery, Cameron Village, Raleigh, NC
59th Annual Member Show and SCAPES juried, Durham Art Guild, Durham, NC
Featured artist, August-September, Little Art Gallery, Cameron Village, Raleigh, NC
Landscapes Reinterpreted, 2-artist exhibition, Town Hall Gallery, Cary, NC
Scope: The NC Landscape, juried, Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC
Coastal Color, solo exhibition, Sunset River Marketplace, Calabash, NC
Art of the Auction, juried donor, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
Emulous, Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC
For the Love of Art, juried donor, The Road Show, 2nd Place, Exchange Gallery Artist, Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC
Here & There, solo exhibition, Sunset River Marketplace, Calabash, NC
Saving the Places You Love, invitational exhibit, Mahler Fine Art, Raleigh, NC
Landscapes, etc., solo exhibition, Jordan Hall Arts Center, Cary, NC
Picture This, Prevent Child Abuse NC art gala, Raleigh, NC
Emulous and Scope: The NC Landscape, juried, Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC
Carolina Color, Junior League sponsored exhibition, Raleigh, NC
n.e.w. show and Travel Scenes, juried, Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC