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Style Magazine

Kirk Miller

Nov 03, 2014 10:18AM ● By Abigail Blank

Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group

From commissioned portraiture and designing murals to owning his own gallery, Kirk Miller has committed his life to helping bring art into the lives of others. You can see his work on display at the Gallery at 48 Natoma’s Art of Ballet exhibit from November 14 through January 8.

AB: You’ve spent a great deal of time teaching others and helping artists hone their craft. What draws you to teaching? 

KM: Teaching is not for everyone. For me there is a charge I get in helping students achieve their artistic goals. Drawing and painting has been a great journey, which makes me want to share what I know with others. My earliest experience with teaching was very gratifying. I taught drawing and painting—with a concentration on people, portraits and the figure—and found I was able to make complicated procedures easy to understand. I seem to have the ability to communicate and enable my students to paint at a higher level, which gives them great satisfaction as they reach their personal artistic goals. That makes it fun for both of us.

AB: Do you feel that your instruction under Woody Ishmael had a formative effect on you? 

KM: My experience with Woody (one of the top portrait painters and illustrators of his generation and a contemporary of Norman Rockwell) was definitely a formative one. I already had experience in drawing when I took my first class with him at Troy University, and subsequently, he asked me to become his assistant. This experience gave me the opportunity to observe him painting portraits and illustrations in his personal studio. He was the first famous artist I ever met, and because of his friendship I got to see firsthand how a professional artist actually constructs a painting from the ground up. The friendship and experience was invaluable!

AB: How did you decide to become a gallery owner, and how do you feel it influences your relationship with art? 

KM: I had experience with a few galleries that were cold and almost unapproachable; sadly, most art lovers avoided them. When I opened my gallery in Tustin, the idea was to provide a delightful, no-pressure opportunity for people to experience the art and meet with the artist. I found it invaluable in regards to understanding my collectors’ needs. Meeting and talking on a personal level with clients—who ranged from beginning to sophisticated collectors—influenced the scope of work I produced, thus helping me find my direction as an artist. 

AB: What would you most like to say to young artists?

KM: There is no such thing as a “starving artist.” There are lazy, unproductive artists, but a person with those characteristics would fail at any profession. If you work hard and become skilled and productive, you’ll find a market.
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