Making Goals
International Artist|December - January 2021
Each composition Sue Miller paints has specific technical goals to enhance the overall vision
Sue Miller

Old Town Bar, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 (61 x 91 cm)

This is a painting of a classic New York prohibition-era bar that has kept its original personality from the 1800s. Strong perspective and contrasting values help create a dynamic image.

Evenings Golden Light, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 (61 x 61 cm)

My intention was to try to capture the intense light and colours that emerge from the setting sun.

I enjoy painting a variety of subject I matter to stay sharp and constantly learn new methods, colour mixtures and explore different compositions. Interior scenes are a good challenge as the lighting is such a crucial element when painting an image that is convincing to the viewer. The light also adds an additional element of interest and can evoke emotion in subtle ways. In this particular piece, The Great Debate, I tried to capture the play of strong luminous sunlight streaming through a window illuminating the darkroom, washing away some colours while contributing to the vibrancy of others. This scene has a wide range of light intensities from sun-drenched to very dimly lit areas. The sunlight completely changes the colours and even at times, the shapes of objects as well.

When viewing a painting, our focus is typically pulled to the lightest areas, making those the likely focal points of the work. To help with this, I often employ the chiaroscuro technique to create the illusion of three-dimensional depth and a sense of drama. This technique makes use of bold contrasts between light and dark, usually strong differences influencing the entire composition. The balance and arrangement of light and shade in a painting can lead to dramatic illumination, added tension and visual direction. It’s an effective approach in creating realistic subject matter and a strategy to focus the viewer’s attention. In this painting, the luminous beams of light highlight the subjects and add to the mood of the work.

Another goal for this piece was to show a relationship between the subjects in the painting. While I did not know these gentlemen, to me they seemed to have a strong connection to each other, perhaps being old friends who set aside time to get together and catch up, discuss topics that are important to them and retell old stories of days past. I enjoyed bringing out their personalities by adding enough detail to their facial expressions and postures to show a bit of what they might be thinking—one is animated, one interested, one perhaps might seem a bit bored. Has he heard this story before? The painting hanging above them on the wall was another fun element in this piece as it seems as though the man in that painting might almost be eavesdropping…perhaps trying to pick up a stock market tip.

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