Friday, July 29, 2005
Carlisle scenery inspires landscape painter
Many Carlisleans love nature, and that's one of the big reasons for coming to live here in the first place. For that reason, many people take guests on a local hike to Great Brook State Park or to the Cranberry Bog. At the end of that visit this summer, you may decide to follow up with a stop at the Gleason Public Library where landscape paintings by artist Leslie Miller are on display through August 31. One of these pictures, on sale by the artist with a percentage donated to the library, might make a great way to recall their trip to Carlisle.
"For this exhibit I chose paintings with Carlisle imagery," says Miller who lives in Concord. Some pictures are not specifically of Carlisle, but are from the area and contain familiar scenes. There are paintings of both the state park and the bog. Residents living on West and South Streets will recognize Triangle Farm in Acton. Many people will connect with a picture of wetlands from Lincoln — in fact, for some it may resemble a backyard view. Paintings of Great Meadows in Sudbury could easily be of Estabrook Woods.
The exhibit at the library contains about 30 pictures, both watercolors and oils. Most are 8 x 10 inches, but some go up to 30 x 34. The smaller paintings include precise detail while the larger ones tend towards broader strokes and greater abstraction. All capture the bright colors of the local landscape. The paintings range in price from $500 up to $5,000. Library visitors can obtain exact pricing at the main circulation desk.
Preferring trees to people
Miller loves painting outdoors in natural surroundings. She prefers to avoid crowds, and for this reason likes the state park in Carlisle as people "are busy doing things" rather than standing around and watching her paint. She appreciates that parking isn't an issue in many Carlisle locations unlike Walden Pond in Concord where she has to lug her materials a considerable distance.
"I used to paint at Walden, but it's too difficult now," says Miller. "You have to carry things from the parking lot. There are too many people."
"There's one winter painting," says Miller of the exhibit, "but I don't really like to paint in the snow." She finds layers and bundles of clothes distracting. In the warmer months she works about 20 hours a week. It's not all time spent painting, however, as she also spends time marketing to galleries. For example, this summer she focused on galleries at Martha's Vineyard where her work is now for sale.
Focusing on painting
Originally from Lincoln, Miller attributed her choice of art as a profession to encouragement from her mother, an early contest success, and support from her teachers. As a child, Miller always loved to draw. She used to write little books and illustrate them. "My mother saved them," she says.
In sixth grade, there was an Archie comic book called Katie Keane. "She was a fashion model or something," Miller recalls. "You could send in your drawings and if they liked it they would publish your name and address." Once Miller got something published, and received her first fan letter from a reader. She took classes at the DeCordova Museum after school, and remembers one class in particular which involved drawing live animals.
Miller moved to California for 7th and 8th grade, before returning to Massachusetts. At the Lincoln-Sudbury High School, she had two very influential teachers: John Black (who ended up on Long Island, New York, directing an art education program) and Ed Leary (who became head of an art education program at Boston University). She began studying liberal arts in college, but found, "I spent a lot of time in my room painting."
After taking some time off, she decided to focus back on art. She earned a bachelor's degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. Then she went on to receive her master's degree in Fine Arts from Boston University. She sold her first paintings at her first exhibit at graduation.
Raising a family interrupted her career. Nonetheless, Miller found herself drawn to the Bedford/Concord/Lincoln area to draw landscapes. In 1997, she rented a studio at the Highland Building in Carlisle. After a couple years, she moved to the Emerson Umbrella in Concord.
For the past ten years, Miller has shown her work in a variety of local galleries in Massachusetts and New York. She has served as an Artist in Residence at the Millay Colony and at Acadia National Park. She currently has a picture on display as part of the "Night and Day" a juried exhibit at Fairfield University, sponsored by Women's Caucus for Art.
Miller is generous with her time and work, to support non-profit causes. Selection committees of over 20 agencies have chosen her artwork for display. She often donates her works for auction to support worthy causes. So, be on the lookout with your guests — you never know where you might see a familiar Carlisle landscape by Miller hanging on the wall.
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito