North Carolina artist, Nancy Hughes Miller paints contemporary landscapes inspired by the coast

Inspired by beauty in the landscape, I seek to capture a bold yet quiet impression of everyday nature — as the colors of sky, earth and water converge on the horizon.


After graduating from NC State's School of Design, I was a graphic designer for many years. Then in 2007 I switched gears to live a lifelong dream of being a full time artist. A native of North Carolina, I live near Raleigh in Cary and paint in my home studio. Growing up in a small town near the beaches of North and South Carolina, I developed a love for the coast. One of my favorite places from childhood and now is Sunset Beach, NC — it's a big influence on my art. The fragile beauty of the area inspires me, especially scenes devoid of human activity and disruption — deserted beaches, tranquil marshes, colorful seas — vistas connected to the sky. My subjects also include inland lakes and rural fields, views seen from drives to the coast. From observation, memory and imagination, I explore color and light, shapes and forms — to create a contemporary landscape in my unique style. And though derived from familiar places, my oil paintings are not usually of a specific location but an impression of everyday nature — where the colors of sky, earth and water converge on the horizon.

about my art

The landscape and feelings: Luminism

As the Luminists, I strive not to paint the reality of the landscape but 'the state of feeling’ which the landscape produces.

I share some of the practices and goals of 19th century Luminist artists as I explore light and its effect on the landscape. As they, I seek to elevate everyday nature with compositions featuring large skies and calm, reflective waters— rendered in a smooth finish without visible brushstrokes. Luminist landscapes emphasize tranquility, depicting a poetic experience of nature or a contemplative perception of nature

The marsh landscape and mood

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.