Sandy Bricel Miller
Red Ochre Art Studio
One way I move about my life as an artist is with camera in hand and sketchbook in my pocket, gathering images that become part of my art. I work in several different art media to express my ideas. My work in watercolor often is inspired by the great outdoors or travels near and far. Watercolor is like a dance, where I am completely present to the moment, to the brush and evolution of layers of fluid color flowing across the paper. It requires me to be mindful of the light that beams through gorgeous pigment suspended in water, bouncing off the white of the paper. It also invites me to create a painting in one continuous session in my studio or sitting on a rock at the beach, totally immersed in the process.
I also work in printmaking, both paper lithography and linoleum block print. Printmaking allows me to layer thoughts and images with a different approach. I manipulate my photos to create dramatic chiaroscuro and then transform them through the process of paper lithography. During this process, there are many steps that are somewhat unpredictable, including the amount of ink, water, natural chemicals, paper and even the room temperature that affect the way the print comes out of the press. This printmaking technique intrigues me, as I have to let go of controlling the final outcome and be open to surprises. I enjoy this artistic process of transformation, similar to opening a kiln to see the results of fired pottery. There is a bit of magic in the results.
When hand-written letters became a rare event in my mailbox, children began spending more time on computers, and my mother lost her ability to put pen to paper, I decided to begin my printmaking series “The Lost Arts of Communication.” Typewriters, film cameras, and handwriting are some of the subjects that capture my imagination and symbolize modes of communication that require reflection, pondering and personal expression. I love the personal touch of a typewritten letter, the one-of-a-kind photo made in the dark room, an elegant contour line drawing. My recent discovery of an old typewritten letter from my grandfather found its way into one of my typewriter prints through the process of “chine collé,” a collage technique done with the press. Chine collé provides me with more ways to tell a story through combining rich textures with my photographic images. My work in printmaking is developing into several series, including “The Lost Arts of Communication,” “Hand Portraits,” “Visual Impressions of Music,” and “Matisse’s Window.”
My life as an art instructor for over three decades has enhanced my understanding of art and enriched my life as an artist. Teaching has helped maintain my passion for my work and the unending discoveries I find. I offer classes for children and adults at my studio.