I’m going to come right out and admit it: I’m an art snob. It takes a lot to make me notice, but when I do notice art, I really notice it. Last fall, while at Cellar Door Chocolates, I had one of these NOTICE THIS moments. It was the elephant painting that hangs across from the counter.
What I noticed the most is the unfinished leg. I loved it because it denotes movement and it was different. Unfinished yet, somehow, complete.
Then I turned around and saw these two, as well.
I discovered the artist was local and started looking at his works online. Allow me to introduce you to some of the works of Douglas Miller.
This snake was featured on an invitation. Gets your attention, right? You would definitely RSVP to this event.
I contacted Douglas Miller through email and told him I was interested in purchasing some of his art, specifically anything with birds. At our first meeting, I commissioned two peacocks to go in my living room. Three months later, I went to pick them up and I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the artist’s studio.
So the studio is a tiny room in his basement. There is no easel. There is no chair. He creates his masterpieces with minimal space, minimal light, minimal materials and minimal time. That, my friends, takes true talent.
Here are my two peacocks resting on his official “art desk.”
These are the tools of his trade: Sharpies, some Bic pens and an occasional pencil.
Also, Prang watercolor paints (like the kind you had in school and probably as old).
The secret in his arsenal: Great Lash Mascara by Maybelline.
His favorite tool is his multi-ink Bic pen. You remember these from school, right?
Peacock feathers created with Bic pen, paint and mascara. Really.
Oh, I misspoke. There is a chair in here–the folding chair leaning against the desk. But, he stands to create.
He has even labeled his “art desk,” which is actually an old TV box. It says “A nice desk.”
On the wall hang sketches that he and his daughter have both done. He has a four-year old daughter at home whom he cares for during the day. You probably picture him working in a huge studio all day, being creative. He’s not. He’s playing with his daughter during the day, making meals, cleaning the house and, in any spare time, creating these gorgeous works of art. Like during nap time. Or after she goes to bed. When the rest of us have zero energy or creative flame, he’s down here doing this full time.
Erase all media images of Jackson Pollack going crazy and splatter painting in his studio. Or Van Gogh mailing his ear. Or all the other crazy egos you see and hear about when referring to artistic temperaments. When I was doing this story, my three kids were upstairs playing Fisher Price Little People (with great delight I might add) with his daughter, while dinner was simmering on the stove. Just a normal guy, in a normal house making an exceptional product. The only thing that gives him away is the paint on his sleeve.
In the center of the work space, his mantra is posted within view of his work: “The glass has always been broken.” I’ve been pondering the meaning of this quote since I first saw it …
It is Buddhist in origin and drives us to live in the moment. (To read more on this, click here.)
“You see this goblet?” asks Achaan Chaa, the Thai Buddhist master. “For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”
I know, the descent into Buddhism is a little deep for our early morning girl talk, but here is the point I’m trying to make: Louisville has incredible local artists with serious talent. The next time you are looking for art or are decorating your home, please consider local art over some mass-produced print. It will have so much more meaning for you. I am the type of person who would rather have an empty wall than some generic popular print. Some call that trait procrastination; I call it waiting for inspiration.
Live in the moment. Enjoy your art as a reflection of yourself, for “every moment with it is precious.”
Douglas Miller, you are inspiring.