Saturday, November 27, 2010


Lobster with Brioche, oil on canvas, 2009, 20 x 24 inches

This was painted last year for the "Consider the Lobster" exhibit at gWatson Gallery in Stonington, ME. In case you're interested here's the link! For a funny story about how I rented the lobster from a props supplier and then could not bear to return it, click here.


Saturday, November 13, 2010


The rose is burning
in its watery vessel-
searing my eyes

Tangerine Rose
, 7 x 5 inches, oil on linen mounted to panel
This piece will be on display in this upcoming exhibit:
Small Works 2010
Artists' House Gallery
December 3 to December 24, 2010
Two receptions:
First Friday:
December 3,
5 - 8:30pm
December 5,
1 - 4pm

Artists' House
57 North Second Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 923-8440

Friday, November 12, 2010

Philly Photo Day exhibition

Nancy Bea Miller, Sarah Barr, Lisa Minitz at the

Philly Photo Day Exhibition
November 11 - 21, 2010
Philadelphia Photo Art Center
Grey Area, Crane Arts Building
1400 N. American Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
267.324.3268 (fax)

I do a lot of photography in addition to painting. I don't consider myself a professional, even though I have had several photographs bought for book-covers, magazines and websites, and I am fairly regularly commissioned to take product shots, art shots and head shots. But I still think of it more as a hobby. I don't really know what I am doing. Photography simply satisfies my unflagging impulse for observation and appreciation of life and self-expression, and in a quick-n-easy way too! I can't be painting 24/7 but I do have a camera to hand at all moments. You never know when something will reach out and grab your heart. When that happens I reach out and grab my camera. As Baudelaire put it:
To glorify the cult of images (my great, my only, my earliest passion)

This is the first time I've exhibited my photography in a gallery setting. On October 28, Philly Photo Day, photographers took their best shot within the Philadelphia city limits and sent it in to the Philadelphia Photo Art Center. The work was catalogued, compiled and printed out on huge banners and hung.

"Leaf Blow on Clearfield Street". On Philly Photo Day I happened to be driving through the East Falls section of the city when a sudden gust of wind whipped the leaves into a hail of gold. I checked behind me, saw there was nobody coming up and quickly shot the scene. Talk about driving while distracted (just kidding, I of course, stopped the car while shooting.) Steering wheels make good tripods! Rotopods? :-) Prints can be ordered through the PPAC: $10 for a 5 x 7, $20 for an 8.5 x 11. If you're interested in purchasing a copy of "Leaf Blow" contact the PPAC and tell them you want image number 168.

Philly Photo Day Exhibition

November 11 - 21
Philadelphia Photo Art Center
Grey Area, Crane Arts Building
1400 N. American Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
267.324.3268 (fax)

It is truly an amazingly interesting show, giving a wildly varied portrait of a day. It should interest Philadelphia historians and sociologists as well as artists and anyone who just loves Philadelphia!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Afterwards, Red Velvet

Winged Cupcake
A friend took me out for lunch last week. This is a rare event because I don't actually like to go out to disrupts my working day and I have little enough time as it is. I'll go out for breakfast or dinner, but lunch, almost never. Still, a number of factors lined themselves up and off we went to lunch. Great place, the food was absolutely delicious and Roz suggested we have dessert too. I looked at all the gorgeous baked goods lined up like sugary little soldiers in the lighted case and knew a fierce paint, not eat. So I had a cup of tea while Roz ate a sweet, and afterwards I carried my dessert home in a little box to paint. Which I did. Yum.

Winged Cupcake, oil on canvas on panel, 4 x 6 inches

Saturday, October 23, 2010



is the title of this recent painting. I am the founding director of Plein Air for Camphill, a non-traditional plein air event that benefits a program for teens and young adults with special needs in the Phoenixville, PA area. There is one big day of art-making in August when the bulk of the fifty-odd invited artists come to one location and paint/draw/sculpt/carve/video (and visit and feast.) However, organizing artists is not really like herding cats, it is like herding FERAL cats! So I usually arrange a "pre-make-up" day for people who know in advance they can't make the big day and also a make-up day after the event. This painting was done at the pre-make-up day in June. It was squally weather, with streaming sun and gusty showers, clouds threatening or benevolent constantly racing across the sky! We went ahead and held the event despite the iffy weather.

I was too busy organizing to paint while people arrived and did their thing and had a communal lunch. After lunch the skies really went dark and all the other artists left. I stayed to talk to the school administrator, when suddenly the skies cleared. I'd already set up my painting gear and so I broke off the conversation abruptly and raced to my easel. I painted like mad for less than an hour. When rain started bouncing off the oil paint I knew my "window" had closed and I packed up and left. At the time I felt the piece was unfinished, and that maybe I'd do some touch-up back in the studio. But when I looked at it, a day or two later, it felt complete. I did nothing more than varnish it a few months later and put it in a frame. I was thrilled when it sold at the event reception, and to some well-known collectors too!
Sometimes it's good to be undecided.

Undecided Sky, 11 x 17 inches, oil on gessoed wood, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Foggy Day Tree

I went out painting today at Valley Forge. The plan was to meet up with another artist. When I arrived, to be honest, had I been by myself I would have called it quits after one look at the grey misty sky and one lash of the cold wet breeze. That's the beauty of partnership. There Liz was, already setting up to paint, so I stifled my misgivings and did likewise. And what a nice surprise!

I did not stay long because my hands became numb and my nose turned into a faucet, but I was really somewhat pleased with my efforts. Liz and I decided we'd try never to be deterred by weather, but to adopt "Just paint it!" as our motto. Or maybe "Just say no to not painting."? ;->

Foggy Day Tree, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oldie but Goodie

Looking through some old files and saw this little cutie...a birthday party cupcake homemade by me for one of the little boy's birthdays. Cupcakes are so in these days, but they tend to be much larger, with a lavish crown of icing. I don't think anybody uses sprinkles anymore either...a blast from the past! And, in truth, this was probably only five or six years times change! Still sweet though. ;-)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Trail Light

Light in the Forest
There's a beautiful little piece of woods near us, called Rolling Hill Park. Lots of meandering trails. This one leads past an old, roofless ruin. I was lucky enough to be there yesterday just when the light was filling the old stone structure so that it absolutely glowed! Fits in by chance with today's Illustration Friday theme of Trail.

Light in the Forest (Ruin in Rolling Hill Park), oil on linen on wood, 7 x 5 inches, June 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy First Day of Spring!

Crocus in an Egg Cup
, oil on linen on wood, 4 x 6 inches, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quick Sketch

Quick Little Kayti, oil on linen on wood, 7 x 5 inches, 2010

From my portrait class last night. Unfortunately I'd left at home the big painting of this model that I have been working on, as well as all my brushes...argh! Ever have one of those days? I did have my paints and luckily a small linen I raided the supply cupboard and found some old brushes used in the kid's classes (some very bristling bristle brushes used for tempera painting). Despite these handicaps, I think this little dashed-off sketch has a certain something. The model is much prettier than this, of course, but I caught a certain intensity in her expression.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Greenery-Yallery Apple, oil on linen on wood, 5 x 7 inches, 2010

I had a hard time with this one for unknown reasons. Still not really finished. But I've already spent six times as much time on it as I wanted to (it happens!) Time to move on I think.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three Eyes

Potato with Three Eyes, oil on linen on wood, 5 x 7 inches, 2010

Just realized the theme over at Illustration Friday this week is subterranean, and by a stretch of the imagination this vegetable which grew underground fits the bill.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Green Jello

Green Jello: First Attempt, oil on linen on wood, 5 x 7 inches. 2010

I found Jello to be a surprisingly challenging subject! It is translucent, reflective, smooth, and textured, with lots of inner goings on: bubbles and fissures and air pockets.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Little Silver Bag

Little Silver Bag with Red Apple, oil on linen, 8 x 10 inches, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Glazed, oil on linen on wood, 8 x 6 inches, 2010
This was one session: it's difficult to achieve that glazed look without actually glazing! ;-)

P.S. Just donated this piece to Dear Fleisher, a fund-raiser for a local subsidized city art center.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mermaid's Purse

Mermaid's Purse
, oil on gessoed watercolor paper, 3.5 x 2.5 inches, 2010

Breakneck quick and teeny...whetting my appetite for a calmer and larger painting at some point in the future. Mermaid's purses are really egg cases for sharks and skates. Thanks to my friends Eric and Nancy for sharing their collection!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Onion Skin

Onion Skin, oil on linen on wood, 8 x 10 inches, 2010

This is alla prima, all done in one session, but not exactly speed painting as it took me about an hour and 45 minutes. I might go back and do a little touch-up and glazing: then again I might not.

Monday, March 8, 2010


BRAVE is the theme this week at Illustration Friday. I think this portrait demo I did for a class I'm teaching fits the bill. In several ways:

1) It is brave of me to show an unfinished piece. In fact, a barely started piece. I was demonstrating how to start a portrait and then was kept busy individually assisting my students for the rest of the session.
2) Teachers have to be brave to do demos in general. There is nothing like standing there in front of a class for a little performance pressure! You need to talk, explain what you are doing and answer questions, while at the same time produce something the students will find worth emulating: yikes!
3) This model, whom I have hire frequently, strikes me as a brave soul. Also an artist, she is piecing together a living with modeling and art sales and other part-time jobs: living on the edge.

We artists have to be brave, and also a little strange, to do what we do.

Lily stepped back to get her canvas - so - into perspective. It was an odd road to be walking, this of painting. Out and out one went, further and further, until at last one seemed to be on a narrow plank, perfectly alone, over the sea.

~Virginia Woolf, from To the Lighthouse

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pink Polish

Low Light on Pink Polish, oil on linen on wood, 4 x 6 inches, 2010

Another super quickie. It's getting closer to nail polish season!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sand Dollar in a Box

Sand Dollar in a Box, oil on canvas on wood, 4 x 6 inches, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dog Biscuits

Attila's Biscuits, oil on gessoed ragboard, 4 x 6 inches

(Thanks to my friend Mary and her dog Attila, for the props!)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Little Gold Sweet, oil on canvas, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Duck in a Box, oil on gessoed ragboard, 6 x 6 inches, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bagel on Blue

Bagel on Blue
, oil on gessoed ragboard, 4 x 6 inches, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Blue Mint

The Blue Mint
oil on gessoed ragboard, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, 2010

My grandfather used to keep a stash of these in his pockets.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Overturned Mushroom

Overturned Mushroom
oil on gessoed cardboard, 4 x 6 inches, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Little Stripey Mint

Little Stripey Mint,
oil on gessoed cardboard, 2 x 3 inches, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snowy Afternoon

Rooftops in the Snow, oil on linen on panel, 10 x 8 inches, 2010

I did this out the smaller studio window this afternoon. Snowed again all day today. It has not amounted to much as yet, just a lot of cold wetness melting in the streets and sticking to the old piles of snow. And scaring the populace, with our fresh memories of the recent blizzard and power outages. It's certainly pretty though!

P.S. Today's theme is "perspective" over at Illustration Friday, and I think this fits the bill. What luck! I am almost never in at the start for that meme. ;-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thyme in a Bottle

Thyme in a Bottle
oil on linen on wood, 6 x 4 inches, 2010

I might go back and touch up the label a bit more tomorrow or the next day. The paint is too thick and wet for me to get further detail in. BTW, I truly did not even think of the song title till after I'd posted the image! Now I've got it in my head....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ripe Berry

Ripe Berry
oil on gessoed cardboard, 3 x 3 inches, 2010

This may have been my fastest one yet. And I can't even see what it really looks like, because it was dusk when I started painting and after only about 15 minutes I dropped my brush and raced out the door to pick up youngest son from his after school activity. When I got home, night had fallen. I've never managed to set up good artificial lighting in my studio, and rely entirely on daylight. I may be in for a huge surprise in the morning! Well, never a dull moment when you are a painter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quick Eggs

oil on gessoed cardboard, 5 x 7 inches, 2010

Illustration Friday's theme this week is propagation, and I thought these eggs had at least a whiff of that about them. Another super quickie.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Star Fish

Starfish from Eric, oil on canvas, 3 x 3 inches, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Snow Man

Snow Man
oil on gilt cardboard, 8 x 6 inches, 2010

Maybe I will start a new blog category: speed painting. The way I am using this term, it is a subset of alla prima painting and consists of getting the image onto the canvas in the fewest strokes possible. We are talking half an hour or less! Speed painting was necessitated in this case by the pain of painting while looking into the white glare of snow...excruciating. I wore a hat to cut the glare but even so...ouch.

My youngest son took this picture of me as I was crouched on the landing painting (I think he was very pleased that I was painting his snowman!) Very circular..taking a photograph of someone painting a sculpture created by the person taking the picture. Am I dizzy!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tangerine with Leaf

Tangerine with Leaf
, oil on canvas on wood, 5 x 7 inches, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yellow Onion

Yellow Onion, oil on gilt cardboard, 6 x 8, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Little Jar

Little Jar of White, oil on canvas on wood, 3.5 x 5 inches, 2010

I'm enjoying these little tossed-off pieces, these painting "scales". The problem is having time and sufficient light to take a good photograph! I seem to finish in the late afternoon, when darkness has already started creeping into my studio.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Adrift is this week's challenge at Illustration Friday. I'm several days late but I suddenly realized this piece, fairly recent too, would fit the bill. I painted this in September on Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. The sun had just set but the afterglow lit the harbor with an eerie cool glow. Rusty Spear's boat drifted, loosely tethered, on the glassy water. I stood there, up to my ankles in beach scum and painted as fast as I could. A local walked by and asked me if I wanted a beer but I declined, too caught up in my painting (and also, truth be told, too shy.)

This was one of the few pieces that needed no re-working later. It is rough, but it expressed how I felt, standing there at dusk at the edge of the world.

Gathering Dusk, oil on canvas on wood, 11 x 14 inches, 2009

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tulip Head

Tulip Head, oil on canvas on wood, 5 x 3.5 inches, 2010, N.B.Miller

This is from a bouquet my husband gave me yesterday on Valentine's Day. I love tulips!

I am trying to do A Painting A Day, but even at 3.5 x 5 inches, I am not a one day painter, it seems. I always want to go back and adjust even just a little teeny bit. I am "letting go" after the second pass, though and moving one. These are like practice scales, and my goal is to simply keep on doing them, not fuss each one to death.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy Evening

A Very Quick Sketch
from my studio window, just a few minutes ago. About 30 minutes of painting in all. I am challenging myself to paint every day...even if it just a few strokes. Trying to beat the winter blues.
We are actually in the midst of a blizzard as I type, and I had just gotten started when the lights went out. I kept painting and after a few minutes they came back on...yay! I was trying to get a tonal thing going, but I am not sure I succeeded. It was actually easier to see the values when the electric light was not on. This painting might benefit from later glazing or scumbling, but was an experiment.

Light in the Window, oil on canvas on board, 4 x 6, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

One Persimmon

Vincent's Persimmon, oil on canvas on board, 5 x 7, 2010

My cousins Mary and Keith were visiting a few months ago and brought me some persimmons grown by their friend Vince. The others rotted quickly but this one lasted through my painting of studio is a bit like an icebox that way. Anyway, I just finished its portrait yesterday (the leaf is still intact although the fruit is no longer glossy!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Neighbor's House

Neighbor's House, oil on linen, 6 x 8, 2010

I'd call this a plein air piece except that I did it out of my studio window yesterday afternoon. We got 22 inches of snow over the weekend! I hadn't painted snow in a long! Wish I had a bigger view from my studio window but you make what you can out of what you get, right? ;-)