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Artist Highlight: The Best in Show award at the 38th Annual Art in the Park

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Nathan Miller is an artist who captures the vibrant radiance of nature between the borders of his lovely acrylic artwork. His captivating works of art have now won him the Best in Show award at the 38th Annual Art in the Park, a showcase for the arts hosted on March 11 and 12 by the Hernando County Fine Arts Council at Tom Varn Park in Brooksville. Art in the Park is an annual event dedicated to fine art, craftsmanship, and community that creates a unique opportunity and tradition for artists, collectors, and patrons of the arts.

“It felt amazing,” Miller said, referring to the win. “You never know exactly what the judges are thinking when they enter your booth. Art can be such a subjective thing. With my work, though, I really try to focus on detail, meaning, and originality. My exhibit features imaginative, realistic acrylic paintings of wildlife and people with themes relating to coexistence and conservation. Fortunately for me, the judges appreciated my work. But I didn’t enter with expectations. You can never go into it expecting to win. But when you do, it’s an incredible feeling. And it’s really nice when fellow artists give their support as well.”

Miller counts wildlife as his favorite artistic subject as well as his greatest inspiration. “I always loved animals, but it wasn’t until I moved to Costa Rica that I thoroughly explored the theme of wildlife in my work. Before then, I was working as a graphic designer in Houston, TX. I rarely found time to focus on my art, but I knew I wanted to paint,” he shared. “In 2012, I decided to pack up and move to Nosara, Costa Rica, a small beach town on the Pacific coast. With vibrant birds and howler monkeys surrounding the property where I lived, it was no surprise that they would become my inspiration. Since then, I have gravitated toward big cats and vulnerable species often found in indigenous folklore.”

It is through vivid streams of bright acrylic paint that Miller makes his nature-born subjects come alive on canvas. “Acrylic paint on board is my medium of choice. I started using acrylic paint in high school and exclusively used acrylics when I started my professional career in Costa Rica,” he said. “Since I worked from my home studio apartment, I preferred a water-based paint that was considered less toxic when used in a small space. While I originally painted on canvas, today, I prefer to paint on very smooth flat panels like Ampersand Gessobord. And my acrylic of choice is Golden Heavy Body Acrylic Paints.”

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Aside from his exhibit at Art in the Park, Miller also displays his work at Gallery 201 in Brooksville. His painting “Hope of a Florida Native” is currently featured in the collection of and on the promo poster for the gallery’s Florida Native exhibit.

“The ‘Hope of a Florida Native’ canvas print that I have in the exhibit features a Florida panther mother with her two cubs surrounded by Florida’s natural ecosystem,” he said. “It’s my hope, as a Florida native, that we protect the panthers and their home. Pedram Moghaddam, the curator of Brooksville’s Gallery 201, appreciated this piece when he saw it at the Brooksville Art in the Park Festival. He asked if he could display it in the show, and I agreed.”

This show is only the latest showcase for Miller’s popular work. He stated, “I’ve displayed my work mostly at art festivals and through online exhibitions. But I have also displayed my work at Art Center Manatee in Bradenton, Florida. I’m considering displaying my art at exhibitions with the Society of Animal Artists or the International Guild of Realism.”

Miller has garnered a number of honors for his artistic masterworks, including an Award of Excellence from the 2023 Lake Wales Art Festival, a Bronze Award for “Legend of the Jaguar Shaman” from the 2022 Animal Painting Competition – Global Painting Conclave, and the Tom & Jan Nielsen Best in Show in 2022 from The Arts Festival of Carrollton. To read about his other honors and his career overall, check out the About page of his website at www.nathan miller.gallery.com.

Beyond the painted canvas, Miller’s artsy images can be seen on the surfaces of mass-produced puzzles as well. “A puzzle company from Europe reached out to me with interest in ‘Legend of the Jaguar Shaman,’ one of my most popular paintings. Realizing that images of my art would work well on puzzles, I decided, however, to do a little research into puzzle companies,” he said. “When I found Art & Fable Puzzle Company, I was really impressed. They specialize in high-quality puzzles that feature art by living artists. And they put a spotlight on the artists and donate a percentage of the profits to a charity of the artists’ choice. I reached out to them, and they decided to feature ‘Legend of the Jaguar Shaman’ on one of their puzzles. It recently won the Best Puzzle of the Year Award, and Art & Fable Puzzle Company won Best Overall Puzzle Company in the Puzzle Pals Choice Awards. And that was just the first. Art & Fable will be coming out with another puzzle before long featuring another one of my paintings.” These puzzles can be purchased directly from the Art & Fable website or from Miller’s website.

For Nathan Miller, the pursuit and mastery of the visual arts is clearly a lifetime passion. “I’ve been into art since as far back as I can remember,” he said. “My mother was an artist, and I believe I got the artist gene from her. She exposed me to art and supported my passion for drawing and painting.”

Miller counts his piece “Legend of the Jaguar Shaman” as his favorite artistic creation. “It was inspired by the five years I spent in Costa Rica,” he said. “It has meaning and significance to me, and it also seems to be resonating a lot with others as well.”

A native of Tampa, Miller now lives in Covington, GA. His work can be seen at various art festivals. Next, he will display his work at the Mayfair by the Lake Art Festival in Lakeland from May 13th–14th. He plans to return again in the fall.

“I’m planning to dive deeper into the art festival circuit. I’ll be doing more shows and traveling further distances to find the best shows,” he said. “I’ll be leasing my art more to companies like Art & Fable. In fact, some of my pieces will be made into Diamond Art Kits very soon. But ultimately, I’m looking forward to creating more art and finding the best venues where I can sell my work.”

Pedram Moghaddam, also the Hernando County Fine Arts Council vice chair and public art chair, is a great admirer of the work of Nathan Miller. “Nathan understands the material well in an imaginative, realistic style,” he said. “While depicting the subjects in their glory, subtleties in the use of light and dark play on the subjects’ sense of majesty.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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