Steve Miller is a Royal Oak, Michigan-based painter who’s acrylic paintings share stories of self-awareness and discovery through subjects both real and imagined, representational and abstract. His process is experimental and intuitive. His palette is often vibrant yet controlled, and his brushwork is painterly.

After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Miller’s surreal landscape was printed on 12 million 12-packs of Rolling Rock beer and used as a national promotional poster giveaway. Since moving to Royal Oak in 2002, he has exhibited in over 60 juried, group and solo exhibitions. Miller won the Corinne Maillard Robinson Award in the 38th annual Michigan Fine Arts Competition at the BBAC. Canvas Pontiac awarded him 1st Place in their inaugural juried competition. And, he was awarded Finalist for an international online portrait competition. Last year, he curated an exhibition for the Grosse Pointe Artists Association, and the City of Royal Oak asked and received his donation of artwork from the city’s Arts Explored public art program for which he’s been a part of for the last few years.

Miller is also a songwriter and musician. He is currently developing a series of paintings and songs that go together.


With every painting, I challenge myself to tell a believable story and reveal moments of introspection. Through an experimental and intuitive process I keep myself open to discovering something new about the subject I’m interpreting, myself, or the painting experience. 

I’m inspired by the people and places around me as well as by the way light defines, color communicates and composition gives the illusion of movement. 

I don’t always have a plan when I start painting. Sometimes I begin non-objectively blocking-in warm and cool color relationships. Then I’ll read into the brushstrokes and define compositional areas and shapes. Working intuitively, I allow myself time to experiment while thoughts and feelings percolate and become part of the visual dialogue. Once I see something representational like an animal, a figure, an object or a landscape, I’ll start developing it’s form. It’s fun to think about what you interpret when looking at abstract marks and colors on a canvas. If something isn’t working, I’ll scrape it off and/or paint over it while continuing to search, reflect, and project what I’m seeing. I often make discoveries while working that change the trajectory of the painting. I find this process of experimentation and invention very rewarding.

When I’m trying to capture someone’s likeness in a portrait, or I’m trying to connect the viewer to a specific place, I utilize photography as source material. I’ll develop a plan for the painting while utilizing digital tools to develop compositions, merge imagery, manipulate color and/or simplify forms to their expressive essence before I apply brush to canvas. From here I’ll paint the composition allowing for some liberties that draw from the aforementioned process. This is a very different way of working. It can be tedious, but once obsession takes over this process is no less rewarding. It feels great realizing I can tame the visual chaos and interpret it accurately. I especially love finding small spaces of freedom within the confines of realism to be expressive with color, pattern, or line.

By drawing from multiple influences and experimenting, my ideas are kept fluid and inventive. By building on what I’ve learned my ideas have direction. By challenging myself, I continue to grow as an artist.

-Steve Miller

Photo of the Hiatus - Steve Miller's art, design, and music studio.


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