'Dare to be Different' with Glenn Miller

'Dare to be Different' with Glenn Miller

July 08, 2019

Glenn Miller is a landscape and figurative artist whose creative practice consists of oil painting, pen and ink, photo-manipulation based digital art and video. Glenn is broadly interested in the landscape, portraiture and the nude, preferring to work in oils on Belgian linen when painting. He is inspired by the works of Paul Gauguin, while his nudes show subtle references to Caravaggio and the old masters as well as the works of Willem De  Kooning and Rainer Fetting; all of whom are greatly admired by the artist and have been very influential in the development of his own style.

Australian artist, Glenn Miller

What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

I think I was always interested in art and I remember how excited I was to get my first set of oils at the age of nine. But the strongest event in shaping me as an artist occurred when I was fourteen. My friend, the sixteen year old girl next door, showed me some old masters art books that her parents owned. They were mainly nudes. She then offered to pose nude for me to draw her. It was all very innocent but it had a profound affect on me. From that day onwards I saw myself as an artist.

How would you describe your own personal style?

I don't think I really have a distinct style. I wish I did. But I get tired of repeating the same motifs or style. Even when I'm working on a series I try to approach each so that it feels to me like an entirely new experience.

What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

I've always painted or drawn what I see, feel and experience. Every artwork is in some way autobiographical. It doesn't feel authentic to me otherwise. I don't know how my work will evolve in the future. At the moment I only enjoy painting the female nude and I have one muse in particular who I work with regularly for both painting and video performances which I film and edit.

"Waiting #1", Glenn Miller, Oil on canvas, 76 x 51 cm

What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

I'm mainly inspired by other artists. Paul Gauguin has been a favourite since I was young. I now find Colin Davidson's portraits to be very inspiring.

Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?

My first tutor, the landscape painter, Frank de Silva, was very encouraging. I only knew him for eighteen months, when I was in my early twenties and he was an established artist in his late sixties, before he was tragically killed in a car accident.

"Nude 1 (Ambience Study), Glenn Miller, Oil on Canvas, 40cm x 30cm

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

I've tried just about everything at one time or another but the only medium that truly satisfies me is oil painting with brushes.

When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

I've always loved the landscape and the female form. When I get out into the country it generates enthusiasm for painting landscapes. Working with nude models, whether life drawings or video, drives my passion for figurative paintings.

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

I don't have one set process. For nudes, I will often work from photographs of video stills from photo shoots that I've done. I create digital works using Corel Photo Paint, manipulating and collaging until I get a range of images to use as 
reference. I usually sketch the figure onto the canvas, then gradually create a painting that draws inspiration from all of the digital images.


"Deep Water", Glenn Miller, Oil Paint, 66cm x 51cm

Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?

Because I work part-time as a designer/graphic artist as well, it's really a case of painting whenever I get the opportunity.

When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?

I generally do one painting at a time. But I'll often go back and re-work previous paintings in which I see things that I need to adjust. During those times I can be finishing off several paintings at the same time. Starting new paintings is 
the most enjoyable aspect of the process for me, not so much the finishing of works. I think that is to do with the 'potential' of new works, compared to the 'reality' of finished works, which are rarely as good as what I'd seen in my mind at some earlier point during the painting process.

How has your art evolved to be where it is today?

I think that I've become more confident with the handling of paint and I'm able to leave finished works less refined, appearing to be more spontaneous.  

Which of your artworks are you most proud off?

I'm most proud of a couple of my portraits and nudes. The works that I really like are usually those that no one else does. 

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

There are many living artists who I greatly admire but the one in particular who stands out for me is the Irish portrait artist, Colin Davidson. I relate very strongly to the way he paints, layer over layer, leaving strongly textured areas where previous brushstrokes can be seen under the overpainting. 

If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

The post impressionist era. I would have liked to know Paul Gauguin and be part of his artistic circle of friends.   

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

I think it might be a challenge for a young artist now to devote their lives to what is a fairly solitary pursuit.


"Nude 2 (Serene Study), Glenn Miller, Oil on Canvas, 40cm x 30cm


What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?

Search for art that excites you and strive for your own unique artistic expression. Dare to be different. Believe in yourself.

Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?

I like and admire a very broad range of artistic styles and periods, from the old masters through to the abstract expressionists. 

We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

Yes, I have worked on portraits off and on for several years. I always struggle to let go. The only time I ever get a sense of completion is when a painting is hanging in a gallery or has been sold. I rarely sign paintings until they've reached that stage.

Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

The artists I admire are expressionists, whether it's the old master, Carravaggio, or the great modern painter, Gerhard Richter. I personally am not interested in an artists political views, I am only interested in their artistic views and works.


"At Home (Chris Nyst), Glenn Miller, Oil on Belgian linen, 76 x 91 cm

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm attempting to finish a portrait of Australian swimming legend, Tracey Wickham, who I had the privilege to meet for a sitting after the Commonwealth Games last year.

Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?

No, I've always worked on my own. Sometimes I wish I had been part of a group but there was never the opportunity for me. 

When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?

I don't have an exhibition planned. At the moment I'm concentrating on figurative works, trying to make sense of some vague ideas.


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