Mixed Media Portraits by Gary Miller

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Raised by parents to never be wasteful and always resourceful, Gary was taught to repurpose and reuse materials to give everything a second life. Taught as a child by my grandmother who was a seamstress in a couturier in London about fabrics, pattern cutting, hand sewing, and embroidery techniques, he practiced endlessly sewing by hand wanting to learn her craft. Gary’s fondness of textiles and artistic skills lead him to art school at 16 and throughout his professional career he has attended weekly life drawing classes in NYC and SF. This has mostly been self-guided life drawing, where he experimented with various pens, inks, pastels, paints, and collage, again making use of what was around him.  Gary is on schedule to graduate with a MFA in Fine Art, painting and Drawing from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.


Gary is influenced predominantly by three things – first are people’s emotions, he finds a person’s face, posture or body that has character more interesting especially when they are expressing their true selves. Secondly color and color theories/combinations have a strong impact on the way a person feels or is perceived and as seasonal color palettes are a part of my everyday life. Lastly, he is drawn to different styles and techniques – this covers all dry and wet medium as well as textile and experimental processes.

Gary is working on a series of colorful mixed-media exaggerated and dynamically composed portraits using regular and camera distorted images. The images he creates as inspiration are derived from the feeling of the everyday confrontational portraiture, power, dominance, submissive, perception, arrogance or condescending attitudes.  Each of his paintings would consist of a combination of a tape, line drawing, acrylic and oil painting techniques, found objects, wire, flat surfaces, and textiles all combined in a dynamic portrait that has emotion and character. A dominant Analogous color story will used with washes and saturated areas of high key tints and mutes balanced with a foundation of neutral.  He combines wet and dry mixed media techniques to create an image that is part drawing, painting and surface textile application.

The textiles and techniques applied complement the colors used in the portrait. All appliques, are treated and applied to the canvas using archival techniques. Gary has always collected beaded and sequin appliques and fabric that are used to bring an unexpected quality to a portrait. He sees this not only as source of inspiration but also as re purposing a beautifully crafted piece of work and valuing the craft and knowledge that it took to make these works.

Gary’s paintings are on wood panels and canvas and very in scale from life size to oversized with the idea that in a gallery setting you look up or down on a piece or that the work is looking up or down at you engaging the viewer in a meaningful way.   These initial works are the beginning of a series of figurative/portraits that will develop and take on more subversive subject matter.  What is pretty on the outside is founded in an analysis of self-exploration.