Midge Miller: Painting for sheer enjoyment


LaVerne Kyriss

Midge Miller painted a ship during an art class she took 43 years ago as a young woman. She framed it and after a while it ended up hanging in the garage. Fast-forward through a 35-year career as a high school teacher in Los Angeles and a comfortable and full retirement life in SaddleBrooke that began in 2005. Miller spent her days playing golf and tennis, running a bocce ball league for Unit 21, gardening, playing bridge and hosting numerous social gatherings.

One day less than two years ago, a couple of golfing partners invited her to join them in a painting class through the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild. Miller was quickly hooked and has been painting ever since. “I was encouraged by a neighbor who is an excellent artist and a couple of other friends. I paint for my own enjoyment,” she said.

Miller continues to take Wednesday afternoon painting classes, “I’m still learning how to mix colors—what works and what doesn’t. I’m learning techniques and how to improve my eye for composition, light and shadow.”

Soon after she started painting, Miller’s husband Al decided she needed a more permanent space for creating art. He designed a light-filled studio off their master bedroom. “Last summer, we lived with a blue tarp for a west wall while construction was in progress,” she laughed. “But now, this is my favorite room in the house—except for the patio.”

“I really appreciate working on a project in a group. Having others around and seeing how they interpret what the instructor is presenting is so helpful,” she explained. “And having an instructor walk us through the technique she is teaching is so valuable. Being led into an approach is very helpful. While right now, I mostly paint in class, I do come home and continue to work on my project while my paint is still wet.”

Miller has ventured out to paint a few non-class assignments. “It’s also been fun, learning how to figure out how much of the canvas should be covered in a subject and how much should be blank or background space,” she said. “Art brings surprises. Seeing something you envisioned and then created is good for the soul. I would encourage anyone who is curious to absolutely give it a try.”

“People don’t need to be intimidated about their skill level,” Miller said. “The instructors meet you where you’re at. And you don’t have to build a studio. You can paint in the Topaz Room at the Arts and Craft Center next to the MountainView Clubhouse or in a corner of your dining room, kitchen or wherever you can set up an easel and have a little bit of room for your paints and brushes.”

When asked about where she’s going as an artist, Miller said that she’s going to continue to paint for the sheer enjoyment it brings her. “Maybe someday, I’ll even develop a style. You never know who’s going to be the next Whistler’s mother,” she winked.