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An unconstrained approach to art

Keeping things loose is what keeps Sylvia Miller's paintings unique. She considers the expressionistic qualities to be the important aspect of her work, looking for color and form that can be arranged into a composition on paper. Weather, light and mood of the day affects how she responds with the paint, and the washes of watercolor that she uses when she begins a painting are enhanced by glazes of color and calligraphic line.

"I'm known for my spontaneous paintings that are done on location," she says. "But I was exposed to both abstractional and traditional styles while I studied art in the '60s."

Miller will present a demonstration of her watercolor techniques at the next meeting of the Southern Oregon Society of Artists to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the First Christian Church, 1900 Crater Lake Ave., Medford.

Miller moved to the Rogue Valley from the Bay Area about two years ago. She teaches watercolor in her studio near Grants Pass and an occasional watercolor workshop at the Rogue Gallery & Art Center in Medford.

Growing up in Santa Rosa, Miller earned a bachelor's in teaching from Sonoma State University, and she studied at the San Francisco Art Institute with artists such as Maury Lapp, Dong Kingman and Jade Fon. Miller then taught high school and junior college art classes for 30 years.

"When I left education, I started traveling and putting together group workshops for artists in more than a dozen countries," Miller says. "I was able to teach and travel for 10 years before I moved to the Rogue Valley."

Miller's artwork is shown at Art & Soul Gallery in Ashland, as well as in collections around the world. Her paintings are at the Sonoma County Museum and the Charles Schultz Museum in California, the Pioneer and Indian Museum in Woodward, Okla., and she has paintings hanging in Beijing, China; and Seoul, South Korea.

The U.S. Coast Guard commissioned five paintings from Miller that are displayed in Washington, D.C., and in San Francisco.

Recently, Miller has given more freedom to the paint in her work.

"I'm experimenting with different surfaces, using gel mediums on watercolor paper," she says. "It encourages a kind of loose, unconstrained response. I just go with it."

Information about Miller's classes is available at sylviamillerwatercolor.com or reach her at sylvia541@msn.com. Admission to the demonstration is free.

'San Francisco,' watercolor by Sylvia Miller.