Nancy Hughes Miller graduated from North Carolina State's College of Design where she studied design and fine art fundamentals with a dose of environmentalism. In 2007, after working as a graphic designer for more many years, she fulfilled a dream and became a full-time artist. Nancy resides full time in the Triangle area, but spends much time at Sunset Beach, near where she grew up in southeastern North Carolina. Here she gets a lot of inspiration, reflected in her contemporary landscape paintings. Nancy paints from observation, memory and imagination — describing her art as glimpses of everyday nature.
“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. I am looking around, snapping photos — on beach walks and while kayaking — combining bits and pieces to create my compositions. I work with what nature shows me, its simplest elements — experimenting with shapes, colors, darks and lights — until a sense of movement and atmosphere emerges,” says Nancy.
Her paintings are available for sale online at UGallery and at Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash, NC. She offers large canvas art prints and custom commissioned paintings here on her website. Over the years with her painting donations, Nancy has supported many non-profits in their fundraising efforts including Raleigh's Artspace and Visual Art Exchange, Cary Visual Art, Alzheimer's Association of Eastern NC, 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.
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.
Unspoiled, desolate beaches were the norm before cars, high-rise bridges and condos packed the oceansides with people. When I paint I feel I am recreating scenes from long ago — rare and endangered landscapes with nothing man-made imposing on the view. Only through my imagination is my art possible and I hope I will always find inspiration in the world we have now. I feel an urgent solution must be found to safeguard our planet — as a healthy environment is quickly getting beyond our reach.
Through the marsh grass, colors of daybreak flow with the current toward the ocean. 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.
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 Luminists, as do other modern landscape artists, exploring light and its colorful effects on a scene. Elevating everyday nature, I favor compositions with large skies and 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.
I paint using my imagination, memory and sometimes photographic references. The process involves balancing various components to achieve a pleasing composition. Here, the ancient concept of yin and yang applies as opposites of bright and dark interplay and complement each other to convey a sense of harmony.