Friday, 28 December 2018

Gloaming 3 Besides the pond oil on board

Gloaming 3 Besides the pond Heights Farm Lancashire oil on board
Do we imagine things in the gloamin? Do we really feel a real change in energy?  I'm referring to that point or moment when the dark descends to a  hush and all birds fowl and animals mark a distinct end point in the daily song of the land. Almost as if  mother nature holds her breath a hush or  stillness much like that in a moment of silent prayer a meditation. In the trees next to my favourite Barn a small owl squeaks its way into the evening and up on the hill top by the pond movement carries on in silence.

Night slides over the land as does dawn in an endless planetary dance. So powerful is our earth and yet so fragile, the gloaming is like the wings of a butterfly. I've come to be a regular by the pond though most days are wet.This piece is a remembered one,  a look a lingering  moment and then a dash down the hill up and over the increasingly bogy style where the brood mares live and into the studio to paint. Te greatest stress is have I marked the floor which equates with paint it get it on and dont touch it.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Gloamin 3 Some thoughts arising from painting in the gloamin

So far I've sketched and painted the gloamin in pencil charcoal water colour and mixed media. Fairly quickly in my slightly smaller than A4 sketch book. This time I took a small selection of oilsWorking in oils and a 24x30cm board. This medium gave a different feeling, more measured more thoughtful.

"The last white cloud, fragile but still complete,  floats above a darkening strip of blue grey. the cloud glowing above a ridge until enveloped by rising night is reflected in a pond atop the Heights. The heights a barren thin soiled stretch of poor pasture high above Wheelton and the coastal strip below.

When I think of painting or walking at nightfall or dusk, especially in view of the coast I had never thought to look away from the setting sun. I always watched westwards looking to the last glimmer of sunset.  I was blinded probably by the oranges and reds and bright spectaculars. Yet I liked what I saw when I turned Eastwards today and I watched in the coming night.

The action of looking for the dusk  for nightfall for gloamin introduced a whole new range of colours and hues. I say looking for the dusk not at the dusk,  because I don't think that you can look at the dusk, you can only look for it. More than that, I should say you can only feel for gloamin. Its not day its nothing thats clear gloamin messes with our senses. It's all so indistinct, changing, lowering, fragile, light imperceptible different yet becoming the same. Boundaries between hard and soft are gone, wet and dry land are morphing sky and earth all the same. As we walk we stumble, distances become altered steps become dangerous and as our vision decreases so our other senses that we have forgotten are more attuned. Sounds magnified and feelings concerns enhanced. There is a moment a hush a silence a common bond almost a prayer when all birds and animals quiet themselves pre dusk. If your lucky you hear it and you feel the bond as we take watch on the torments of the night and await the sun.

Visually,  now I'm not even sure whether I actually saw the colours I painted, they seemed okay then and as usual back in the studio doing my tidy up bit I had to work hard to leave the painting be. Here in this gloaming world without the sun,  darkness true darkness doesn't exist. Cold exists increasingly exists. Gloamin in between day and night except when maybe you light a lamp and destroy your vision of the new night.  Is that why gloaming is now an old word. Did we forget it existed when we turned on the switch and burnt our personal bridge between day and night. Is this lack of gloamin awareness the reason why we don't seek a bond between god and self, nature and humanity? Afraid of the dark?  Not any more see I have a switch! Look I can see, feel  the warmth from the gas heating, I can look at television.

Do we forget to live the day, celebrate the experiences of a moment that have been lived since time began.  Did we leave that existential daily experience to become buried in the detritus of the everlasting electric day?  We no longer bother to use many of our human innate intuition skills. Maybe we are loosing our senses."

Rob Miller Dec 10th 2018

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Painting the Gloamin 2 Sketch book

Gloamin 2

Across the fields towards Pleasington Lat light

Farmhouse behind some trees Dole Lane early
dusk after the rain

Images glanced at and remembered in no particular order
Gloamin abstraction
Evening sky after rain acrylics

The Lake District is and as always been a perfect place for a painter and fell walker.  

“ For me, wherever I am, the inspiration for my landscape paintings comes from both painting and walking in the land. I see this as a meditation which provides me with a direct sense of place. For me, making a painting is like writing prose or a poem, both an expression of a feeling and an impression of a place. Depending on the nuances of the paint the wind or sun my work finishes somewhere between abstraction and figurative. “

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Painting the gloamin

Gloamin 1.

Writing as a Landscape Painter on the subject of painting landscapes of the Moors and Valleys of Lancashire in winter. I always feel slightly down at heart when November ends and the evenings draw in with  full dark  at about 4.30pm. In the past especially when I returned from painting in Southern Spain I ignored this feeling of melancholia by  painting away at a canvas with oodles of bright colour only to have to scrape it all off and paint it again because it didn't feel quite right. My partner and friends aghast at my actions. I've worked hard to make myself a painter whose responsive to what's around me and its difficult for me to switch that lever to off. My  paintings would change as the sky lightens at the end of January. The worse case scenario is a wet Lancashire winter which sometimes lasts until Easter when spring and colour bursts forth.

Around that time I had a number of large commissions which called for bright spring light. Luckily my studio was and is windowless so that my bread and butter work could carry on under bright lights from the English Lighting Company along and a blaze of colour that bounces from one painting to the next.

This year I'm going to try something new and welcome melancholia by walkin and drawin in the gloamin this weird time of the day and year.  I'm taking my cue and inspiration from Poets who are Land based. Like Wordsworth, Jaccottet plus the excellent work of Scots Poets such as Alexander Grey, John Stuart Blackie and Kathleen Raine who describe the daily living made from scratching the poor soil of the uplands. Winters good for poets, for them its a time to sit in front of the fire, reflect and make poems. The same can be said for painters.  How to maintain interest in gloom can be read as how to maintain interest in the day.

Gloamin 1 drawing mixed media on paper Charcoal, ink, watercolour

With this in mind I set out to conquer melancholy.Once started and in the painting zone in winter  I find it hard to tear myself away. Though I know the benefits of good fresh air and exercise. To do this I set my alarm for 4.15pm, strap my fitbit to my wrist, get into my buffalo jacket pick up my sketch bag and I go and make drawings. I'm lucky that in  just a few minutes walk from my easel and tables, up a track there's  an old rough stone wall to sit on. From this vantage point a view of soft browns emerge the top of tree branches brushing a greying orange sky, high above deep grey blue clouds arce. To my right above a hedge of stunted scrag end Hawthorne blown lateral a cold grey colour block of sky turns dark. This is a good place for drawing the living landscape drawing with charcoal and watercolour. Further into the wood an enormous chattering group of Crows emerge as they scold a fox or another walker and his dog. I wander over a still green field, onto the flat ridge top its crusty inch of soil spotted by outbreaks of millstone. Over the field a view of a steadfast copse of ancient twisted beech is loosing itself in a smudge of brown. Beyond all this a still glittering band of sea stretches from Barrow down along Lancashire's silver coast, to Liverpool and North Wales. A splendid place that is quintessentially Northern. To the west a dimming orange horizon spreads up to a silver blue that shivers between the trees. This is the gloaming the moment of near dark a still light lingering and flickering as the winter sun slowly ebbs away.

Fact check I use the word gloaming because I like it very much. I first heard it in the poetry and songs of the Scots and of late via an Irish group of musicians. According to the dictionary it's also an old English word descended from the Norsk settlers. Here's a dictionary definition of Gloamin. which is a very very old word,…/roaming-in-the-gloaming/,

Monday, 26 November 2018

Pennine Gold painting oil on canvas 100x100cm

Pennine Gold above Clivager Burnley Lancashire 100x100x10cm Oil, acrylic and varnish on canvas

For the last three years this painting has hung on the gallery wall at falcon Mill Bolton as part of the Open Studio event. Every year I've taken to over painting it because I was unhappy about it. All in all its taken about 7 years to get this far with this particular scene each year it becomes a little more removed from present day  realism. To many narratives maybe. I think I'm over it now that I've come to terms with the main narrative.

My Dad cycled along this road from Burnley over to Todmorden in the 1930's. His story of the trip one of many is ingrained on my family memory. A keen hobbyist he recorded many of his adventures in a wonderful copperplate hand. At his time of cycling the scene would have looked very different. An major open cast mine and many pit shafts dominated what was a very industrial  landscape the open stretch of moor covered in a smog that rose from the mill chimneys and engineering works as well as the railway that dominated the straggling towns of Cliviger Bacup Todmorden Cornholme.

I came up here once back in 1976 on my way to a job interview in Bradford. I had just bought a mini which clanged its semi broken exhaust pipe from Liverpool via Blackburn. This was before the M62 was built. Proper Northern that experience was driving through many winding roads. I stopped for a packet of chips and a pint in the Waggon and Horses.  Afterwards I put on my old Army Coat and left the car in Cornholme to walk up Stubley Lane climbing steeply up a brow away from the busy works and smog out onto the open moors. Lapwings and curlew and lark calls and songs vied with the sound of many sheep in the green fields. The slag heaps still black and the land along the road pitted like Flanders fields were chewed into a green turf by the many sheep. The miners were on strike then and Thatchers ruined country was very divided. Jobs were scarce, by the time I got to Bradford the teaching job that I had applied for had been cut.

Monday, 19 November 2018

In the studio South Lakes series work in progress

Studio a three of the medium sized South lakes paintings on the esel
and floor alongside a larger Striding Edge in the 
background and an 
unfinished painting of Iona in the Western Isles

Troutbeck twisting lane and old barn in the midsummer
oil on board linen
Lower Vallery Kentmere in midsummer
oil on linen board

Upper valley Kentmere in mid summer
oil on linen board
Painting  for me is about exploring what I see and about trying new ways of experiencing them. For the South Lakes series I was entranced by the light of both summer and winter and how I could represent them. I had already spent a couple of sunshine days down by the River Leven below Windermere and think with these smaller works in mind I have continued with the study of light captured in individual brush marks. The lake District has its own Lake District Genre developed amongst local painters both alive and dead.It is difficult not to be influenced by them and to plow my own furrow.

Sparkling light River Levens
oil on board 20x30cm

Late Summer colours i a deep pond on the River Leven
oi on board

See this work at studio 11 Falcon Mill Studios Handel Street Bolton 

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Poppy day 2018

Poppy for Armistice Day
acrylic on canvas
I'm not sure if poppy paintings at this time of the year should have a narrative maybe silent respect during its making and showing. My Father and Grandfather fought in both world wars and I have memories of them talking about the experience including the loss of their friends. Both Im sure would be worried, even horrified  at the growing social divide and increasing poverty in Britain. 
What was it all about?

Monday, 29 October 2018

A large painting in oils off Hest Bank Morecambe Bay lancashire

Hest Bank oil on canvas 90x100cm aprox
It certainly seems ages since I began this work last Autumn in 2017. It's spent most of its time lounging around the studio at the back under a pile of acrylics as other work took priority. I'm glad  it went that way. A second trip to Hest bank in early summer produced some nice en plein air paintings and a lasting visual memory of the kind of sparkle day that can only be seen when limestone meets the sea, sky and sun in the shape of Silverdale in the mid distance. Once Id had that reminder the rest went fairly quickly.

I think I'm liking the use of repeated washes here, I know that they can be seen as somewhat different from some of my work which focuses on brush marks.

Friday, 19 October 2018


Rob Miller Fine Art: WATER STREET GALLERY TODMORDEN: Rob Miller Seascapes at the Water Street Gallery Todmorden The seaside moves to Todmorden. From next week people in Todmorden can che...


Rob Miller Seascapes at the Water Street Gallery Todmorden

The seaside moves to Todmorden. From next week people in Todmorden can check out Rob Millers seaside inspired affordable art at the aptly named Water Street Gallery. Todmorden They are a part of the Rare Things and Small Paintings exhibition. Four works painted at Blackpool North Sands, Bispham, Heysham and Humphries Head. Winter at Water Street is always a success.

Bispham oil on Board  30x30cm

Blackpool North Sands Oil on Boards 30 x 30 cm

Heysham Oil on Board 20 x 40cm

Humphries Head Oil on Board 20 x 40 cm

Thursday, 4 October 2018


North Iceland

Western Isles

open studio for more details 

TEL 07841 140562 (UK)

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Old Lancashire Hawthorne Turton and darwen Landscapes

High above Bolton and Blackburn or should I really say Turton and Darwen near Owshow Clough  is an old pit tramway that leads past a decaying and overgrown coal yard. The tram way goes in a straight line past a couple of pit heads and up parallel to a track. Alongside the track a group of 8 Hawthornes string in a line bent and twisted with age and the effect of wind.

According to an internet wicca site the Hawthorn, Crataegus oxyacantha, is the The May Tree Sixth month of the Celtic Tree calendar, May 13th June 9 Sixth consonant of the Ogham alphabet uath Huathe (Hoo-ah) - H  This Ogham symbol is used in Celtic Reiki and its essence represents the energy of cleansing and preparation. It clears the mind of negative thoughts and mental confusion, offering clarity. It gives patience and offers stillness. Hawthorn is burned to purify, and draw faery to your eye. The Hawthorne is a family favourite we always look forward to its show of creamy white flowers that dominant the landscape in May around our Pennine home. Here's the beginning of an acrylic painting that Im working on. Its a sort of joyful experiment which started by chance when I went on a high moorland walk u above Turton Lancashire.

For me they are a return to an old subject and a narrative of survival. The small drawings below are from my Lancashire Walks Sketch book. Today I've started on some larger acrylics and hope to post them. If anyone  has access to music on the hawthorn tree it would be great if you could share. I was drawn to the shapes of the trees, the way they followed the lads dip and the way that their dark shadows divided and dominated the expanse of moor. Rob

more coming soon

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Lodge at Lingholm Portinscale A watercolour painting

The Lodge at Lingholm
Water colour on paper 38x24cm

I began a series of drawings and paintings in the grounds of Lingholm Estate Portinscale Keswick some months and in some cases years ago whilst painting the large triptychs in the Stone Room which is situated in the main house. Stretched on large boards they have resided happily in the back of the studio. Today I dug them out determined to complete them and give them new life.

The grounds of the estate are quite breathtaking in the autumn and then the Lodge was newly refurbished and its gardens opened up to the light of sun.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Painting in the garden at the Lingholm Estate Portinscale

This is the initial water colour sketch in my garden sketch book. Its where I tried to plan out the this painting of Lingholms walled Garden. There where plenty of onlookers and visitors to the garden and kitchen and  needed to see if this view would actually work. In the studio and sometimes outdoors, largely dependant on the conditions its interesting to go with the flow and if necessary scrape off and over paint and correct areas of work or simply change my mind and pick out a different focus that may emerge for the work. After all  the more you look at something the more you see, changes in light wind etc etc can also make a sound reason for altering a composition . More often than not unless Im work small scale I get a bit caught out sometimes so if when you first pick up your brush and you like the look of the shadows do record them. 

The issue with painting in the  walled garden are the shadows and a back drop of dark trees which soar skywards. The layout is also quite formal leaving little room for creative exploration. When painting nature I try and stick with or whats the point I may as well sit at home and think  garden.
This is the first blocking out process the pots and urns add a definite structure and warm points of interest, the tall peas on their canes also make a wonderful backdrop. The light glancing over the garden walls created wonderful patterns through the leaves. I kept my brush marks small to try and emulate this pattern.

This is the second stage and the final one en plein air before I complete this and a couple of other smaller works. I had spent a couple of hours last week looking through some excellent books I bought on Whistler, Sorolla and Cezanne's garden paintings and had a kind of painterly journey in my mind. So  I annoyed myself considerably when I realized towards the final few minutes that I  had moved away from this accidently. The same thing happened at Gawthorpe Hall I'll try and post some of Sorolla's and Whistlers images. So you can see what I'm getting at.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Developing paintings in the garden 2

This is the second sitting with this garden subject which is a corner of the kitchen flower bed. Ive moved a couple of pots around and created some extra interest with some old setts. Today Im working with oil on board on a pochade that measures 30cmx30cm. The first sitting concerned making a water colour sketch in my garden sketch book  today the weather is fairly similar and the time of day is about the same. This means that I'm going to get I hope a good chance of completion. painting similar shadows and highlights. I'm never sure whether or not they should be called studies, I suppose I a painting them as a forerunner to some larger more abstract works at a later date when the studio is ready at the front of the house. But study seems to demean the creative process involved. I am not unfortunately for me a conveyor belt painter, by that I mean I don't paint the same old colour range, same subject, draw the outline the same way, paint dark tones then mid then light. I'm the worst of the indecisives, a change of light  can set me off in a completely different direction sometimes. My answer to that is to have a number of works on the go at once which saves a lot of navel gazing and muttering on my part as well as a lot of repainting and scraping off.  

I've started on a prepared board board that I painted with three layers of emulsion and a final glaze of thin acrylic scarlet red. I like the way the rough brush marks and patterns of tone can assist my eye to go more creative. I've made a start at an underdrawing using prussian blue and burnt umber. Outdoors I tend to use liquin or neoglit to speed up the drying I give the drawing about half an hour to dry a little.

My second foray is to block in some areas the background and the lighter grey foreground. I love Whistlers garden paintings and Sorellas and the way they paint the backdrops to flowers or ornamental features. It is so loose, my problem here is that I want to see how that works but Im working on a much much smaller canvas. I don't want to get to small with my brush size. If I did I will only start fiddling with detail. One brush stroke of mine covers a lot of the board. I'm trying to remember that. I love the way Cezanne worked in small marks and sinuous line but again Cezanne took an inordinate amount of time they say sometimes over many weeks on one canvas returning to it when the light was favourable and the paint drier. In the UK and the north Uk the weather is cooler and the seasons change quickly.

I've worked across some mid tones here especially on the plant pots and the greys on the ground. Ive dug out of my paint box a whole shed load of greens and Im having some fun mixing up different hes with different blues and greens. Because of the flat square brush that I'm using the painting is starting to get a little regular in the mark making but it will come good. I still don't really know, the lights changed a lot, where Im going to end up. I wanted contrast in shadows and light but as I work Im starting to reflect what I see.

Here a shot of the palette and tins of medium. I used to do a lot of colour chasing but Im over that now. Frustratingly I ca be a little lazy at times and say to myself that colour will do or I don't clean the brushes as much as I should. I think its because Im sat down squeezed between two flower beds and the bees and wasps have arrived in force. I do prefer standing up I find Im more organised that way.

Here's a shot of the easel and my box of art materials along with my uncomfortable small stool. You ca see that the day is becoming overcast and I'm having to guess a little as the lack of light is starting to flatten out shapes and fudge colour.

The palette and my red clogs, they cheer me up but my partner hates them but nobody ever wears them but me. 

Here's a shot down the board looking at how I've laid the paint on I have a love hate relationship with lumps I can make many marks and then find myself later scrapping off with the palette knife.

I think that this is about it for this sitting the digitalis looks fine to me Hopefully I will be back and complete tomorrow the forecast isn't good.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Developing paintings in the garden

The really hot weather has now moved on and the fresh rain and cooler temperatures have seen green become the predominant lush colour. As well as that on a very cheery note birdlife and wildlife is everywhere and there's a real atmosphere of the gardeners winged and crawling friends becoming much more industrious, including biting me.  Its sunny right now a warm 21C here in Brinscall with a mild fresh breeze. Above are banks of pale cream and light grey clouds travelling Eastwards stretching in long long lines from North to South. 

A gallery owner told me a few years ago that art buyers never bought green paintings, Im sat here pondering on that thought as I try to unscramble all the different greens in front of me. Ive made life harder by bringing out the wrong watercolour box. My garden watercolour set has loads of different yellows blues  greens and mauves that make an eclectic array of shades and tones. But having got up from my little camp stool to answer the phone, make coffee, answer the front door to the postman and become side tracked by my email pinging on the ipad, there's no way I'm going to get up again.

At the latest demo I did I was asked how to tackle a garden painting  by a lady who did not like to travel far from home but who wanted to paint outdoors. So here are a few easy notes Restricting your palette has a positive to it, I had to be more thoughtful about tone and brushmark in my small A5 sketch book. There's a simple pleasure in sketching and making art outdoors, but be warned if you think that you can go and sit on your bottom and get it right straight away your in for a rocky ride. Looking doesn't come naturally, well only to the super gifted. You have to train your eyes consciously to look and control your vision of what's around you. If you can stand on a high point and take a look at a view. Try and stand so that the light is sideways onto your subject matter. It really helps if its a nice sunny day with a low sun. Shadows and bright areas will be uniform and create lines between you and your subject.In front of you will be a mass array of tangled shapes and trillions of verdant hues. Over this will be a pattern of light and dark divide into blocks maybe squares maybe triangles maybe arches. Next take a look at the high ground or hedgerow or wall or rooftops. The dark line or squares create an horizon line for your sketch that may be straight or broken by taller plants or trees. Concentrate on finding three areas of interest that are formed by a fork in a tree, a dark curve of a bush meeting a light straight path and plot where these intersect. Mark these points or intersections, don't join them up just yet or better still ever.

You may be able to pick out some interesting geometric shapes and meeting points in the image above, straight lines and curves abound as does bright shade. Its a somewhat overgrown path in my rear garden where rocks, plants and brass lanterns find a changing jumbled home.

The overgrown cracks in the old paving make for soft lines that keep a constant geometric shape against the tall plants in the bedding as well as the planters and rocks. Once you have made a start on your drawing and feel that its a third complete stop at that point and take hold of your brush and a simple primary colour palette. Use the brush like your pencil or drop into your sketch blobs or shapes. Keeping it as loose as you can. Remembering which is your coffee and which is your woter pot. Coffee tastes good and also acts as a nice raw sienna whereas the water pot tastes awful and leaves a colour like mud. Give me coffee anytime. That reminds me its time for some more coffee. I will also prepare three boards for the next stage. I use 30x30cmx3mm board covered with a few layers of white emulsion coarsely brushed on to give texture marks and interest. The white paint incidentally which reflects colour back out to the viewer. Finally I add a wash of scarlet red acrylic I blob a little on the board and then use plenty of water to spread it out. It doesn't matter if it blotches or runs, it all adds interest. (Well within reason). Im going to go and do that now.  My next blog will move us onto a basic plein air oil painting in the garden. Blogging and chatting about making art is great with the ipad as I can stay in the environment that I wat to talk about. Great fun.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

UNFRAMED FRIDAY See new work and grab a bargain

Unframed Friday at Falcon Mill Studios
3rd August 2018 
10.30 - 5pm

Visit the studio . Grab a bargain and see my new work

further details from myself 
Rob Miller 07841140562

More about me 

Find Falcon Mill 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

RA Summer Show 2018

Image may contain: 5 people, crowd

As usual the RA summer show throws up a discord of protests from working artists and art followers about its lack of artistic quality . For me its not the subject matter or narrative that I disagree with. My issue is with the RA a central organisation of British Art putting together a show which in the main people laugh at because it lacks skill, knowledge and I suppose artistic attitude. For me it betrays British painters and artists and is a contributing reason for the falling influence on society of British 'plastic' art.

Sunday, 22 July 2018


Its interesting that the abstract expressionists of America coined the word plastic to represent two dimensional art . The thought occurs to me that it was easier for them to dismantle classical art ainto abstractions and colour fields then it will be for the modern painter to give up using plastic in her  studio. Personally  I'm getting more and more unsure about the amount of plastic that I as an artists use and how we are  Dealing with plastic. I've decided to make this a part of this blog and here is a link to a positive video that doesn't just talk about it but gives alternatives to using plastics. I think glass and metal have to be the main two elements. Heres a practicing artist whose has tackeled the issue head on australian oplastic artist

As a landscape painter I profess to be a supporter of environmental protection from my waste, the materials I use and the waste thats derived from the industrialists who make the raw products that are then made into art materials. I'm looking first at making a list Acrylic paint, paint tubes. synthetic brushes, jars for mediums and turpentine, tidy boxes, palettes and boxes especially watercolour just the start of what will be a long list. One intention is to make a toxic corner by putting all the worse materials into a corner and painting it.

Image result for plastics and artist painting equipment