Nancy Hughes Miller
contemporary landscape paintings

Nancy Hughes Miller

Nancy worked as a graphic designer for many years after graduating from North Carolina State's School of Design. Now a full-time painter, she remains influenced by the eye-opening, multifaceted education she received at NCSU which included classes in figure drawing, photography and art history. A lifetime of creative explorations, her design career, workshops and self-instruction also shape Nancy as a 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. 

artist statement(s)

Ancestral lands, coastal settlers

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

My connection to this environment goes way back and is in my bloodline. 

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. 

The marsh landscape and mood

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

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. 

Family memories of the beach

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

I hope my art connects with people and evokes fond memories of a family beach vacation. 

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.

The landscape and feelings: Luminism

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

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