Steve Miller was born in 1970 in Norman, Oklahoma. In the late eighties and early nineties he found his footing as a visual artist and drummer for several local bands. Growing up in a college town and exploring the surrounding rural landscapes was were he drew his inspiration at the time.

Miller studied fine art formally at The University of Oklahoma with influential landscape painter Carol Beesley, abstract painter George Bogart, conceptual artist Hachivi Edgar Heap of Birds, and printmaker Dan Kiacz. Miller graduated in 1995 with a BFA in painting and printmaking.

Soon after graduating, Miller moved to Dallas and began an unexpected career in advertising as an art director. While working on a campaign for Rolling Rock beer, Miller was tasked with selecting a stable of professional illustrators for a marketing campaign. After selecting several experienced illustrators, Miller decided to throw his hat in the ring anonymously. Fortunately for him, the client selected his surreal landscape to be the key image out of the ten commissioned and licensed illustrations. His painting was printed on 12 million 12-packs of Rolling Rock beer and used as a national promotional poster giveaway. This experience gave Miller the confidence to continue painting.

In 2000, Miller got married and moved to Chicago, accepting a senior art director position at a downtown advertising agency. After a few years in Chicago, he and his wife decided to move to her home state of Michigan. Miller also decided at this time to leave the corporate world and pursue his art practice full-time.

Since moving to Royal Oak, Michigan in 2003, Miller 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 public art competition. He was awarded Finalist for an international online portrait competition. One of his collaborative sculptures was selected and showcased at the Detroit Institute of Art’s 2014 Ofrenda exhibition. Last year, he curated an exhibition for the Grosse Pointe Artists Association, and his artwork is currently being shown publicly in downtown Royal Oak as part of the city’s Art’s Explored program. This year, Miller participated in Royal Oak Art Council’s first annual Art Walk. And, one of his paintings has been accepted to the Muskegon Museum of Art’s 94th Michigan Contemporary Art Exhibition this fall.

Steve Miller’s expressive acrylic landscape, portrait, and still life paintings tell stories of exploration and observation with a saturated and shifting color palette, as well as a self-effacing humor and playful curiosity.


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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