Nancy Hughes Miller
contemporary landscape paintings


Nancy Hughes Miller

A full-time painter since 2007, Nancy worked as a graphic designer following graduation from North Carolina State's College of Design. This eye-opening multifaceted college experience, her design career, workshops and self-instruction throughout life shape Nancy as an artist. But foremost, a love of the natural world — its beauty and fragility — inspires her to create her paintings.

Reflected in Nancy's art is the coastal environment of southeastern North Carolina, where she grew up and visits often. She enjoys painting from memory, observation and imagination — not always relying on photographs. Working in oils, Nancy explores color and light, shapes and forms, to create a contemporary landscape in her own style. And though derived from familiar places, her scenes are usually not of a specific location. Instead she seeks to capture a bold yet quiet impression of everyday nature — as the colors of sky, earth and water converge on the horizon. 

Nancy's work is exhibited at Little Art Gallery in Raleigh’s Cameron Village,  Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash, NC and All About Art on Bald Head Island. In addition, her work is featured online with UGallery, Crate and Barrel and Saatchi Art. She is a member of Raleigh’s ArtSpace and donates her art to their annual Gala fundraiser. Other groups who have benefitted from her painting donations include Visual Art Exchange, 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 and the NC Children’s Hospital.

about Nancy's art

Ancestral lands, coastal settlers

Contemporary coastal landscape oil painting by Nancy Hughes Miller, modern seascapes and marshes

In times before high-rise bridges and condos, unspoiled landscapes were experienced by Native Americans and explorers. My ancestors were early settlers of the Coastal Carolinas region. Sometimes I feel I am channeling these kindred spirits when I create my paintings. 

My connection to the coast goes way back and is in my bloodline. 

The marsh landscape and mood

Contemporary landscape oil paintings by emerging US artist Nancy Hughes Miller colorful and soothing

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 scenes of inlet waters winding to the ocean or those with large clouds on the horizon are a calming influence on the viewer.

Memories of the beach

Quiet Beach Morning 20x40 oil painting by Nancy Hughes Miller, North Carolina USA landscape artist

A lot of families have traditions around their annual week at the beach. They'll 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 hope my art connects with people and evokes fond memories of a family beach vacation. 

The landscape and feelings: Luminism

Nancy Hughes Miller paints contemporary landscape paintings of the coast, beach and marsh paintings

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.

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