I'm alive but i'm barely breathing...

I have spent the last two weeks being sicker than a dog. This cold has been absolutely brutal. At one point it felt like the time I had pneumonia and at other times it felt like the cold was turning into laryngitis. It has been a dismal two weeks which is why I haven't been posting to any of my social media accounts. I apologize for the lack of my hideous mug. :P 

I do however have a few announcements that I want to share with you all and they are as follows.

Moments

I am launching a new YouTube video series on my channel! This special series of videos is called "Moments." I am beyond excited for this because I have wanted to focus on shooting more high quality short videos/short films but I hadn't quite figured out all the vibe until recently. Whilst brainstorming future ideas for my YouTube channel (click here to subscribe :P) I wanted to come up with a word or title that could fit multiple genres/styles/music/topics, etc. The title of "Moments" fit that perfectly. Moments will be a series of videos that focus on sharing important times in my life and will encompass times that may be big moments or they may be small. The videos will be a way to showcase my perspective on the world around me, both how I'm personally affected and/or how those around me are affected. I want to be able to capture the essence and feeling in a unique way.  To try to give you a clearer understanding check out the first episode I released here (or down below). I am beyond excited to see how these projects will evolve and grow. 

Moments - Episode 1: "Connection" 

This episode relates to the concept of connections. For the performer this is the first concert from her US tour after a multi-year legal battle with her formal label to gain her independence and be able to sell and produce her music. This concert highlight that she still maintains a strong bond with her fans and that they are ready and willing to support her on her next adventure. 

On a personal level this will be the last event/concert I get to see with my little brother before he moves to his new home and I take on the next adventure. JoJo happens to be one of his favorite artists and getting him tickets for us to go see her was a way to have a last hurrah, so to speak. It was an AMAZING concert and spending time with my brother will always be one of my favorite things to do. 

 facebook.com/officialjonathanmiller 

facebook.com/officialjonathanmiller 

JoJo's manager even tweeted about his review of the concert on his YouTube channel, which alone is exciting enough, but then JoJo herself posted the video to her Facebook page (seen above) to share with her hundreds of thousands of loyal fans! Needless to say Jon was THROUGH THE ROOF with excitement! 

I have one more very exciting announcement that I want to share with you all, but I think it may deserve it's own blog post when everything is 100% official, so keep an eye out for that.... but if you'd like a sneak peak you can watch the video below.

Much love to you all, and thank you for your continued support! 

-Stephen

5 Essentials For Adventures - Not Including My Camera Gear

I get this question quite a lot more than I expect, usually cause most people who follow my work like to talk about camera gear, but I think it would make a great blog post! I often get asked “other than your camera gear, what are your essentials for your adventures/photo missions?” Well, let's answer that question!

First thing I always grab for longer adventures is my duffle bag. This one is by Fossil and even though it's no longer made (I think), it's still one of my favorites. This bag has seen its fair share of spills, falls, and muddy surfaces. I've spilt whole bottles of shampoo inside and it still looks brand new. Oh, and as an aside, cleaning shampoo from the inside of a bag is among the most tedious of tasks and I never want to do it again. The bag can hold pants, shirts, essentials, boots, and still have room for a blanket, jacket... or the occasional extra camera part. If it can take a beating and come back swinging then it gets high marks in my book.

 

Brand: Fossil   Cost: $125(+/-)  Favorite Part: Durability   

Second essential: Boots. I have never been a sneaker guy. I honestly see no point in owning shoes you can't wear and get dirty in – well other than a nice dress shoe. That's why I LOVE boots. I've had family and business associates work for shoe companies before and when they ask if I'd like to score a free pair I ALWAYS ask about boots. This particular pair is by Aston Grey and honestly they're my favorite pair of boots I have EVER owned. Are they waterproof? No. Are they made for hiking? No. Are they the most comfortable thing ever? YES. I cannot stress enough how comfortable these things are. I have literally worn these to bed. They may not have started out as adventure boots, but I have damn-well turned them into adventure boots. Haha.

They can be dressed up or dressed down depending on what I need. Plus they match the whole “adventure aesthetic.” Perfect. 10/10 would recommend.

Brand: Aston Grey (Rockcastle 2)   Cost: $125(+/-)  Favorite Part: Feel sexy on my feet!  

 

 

Third essential: Journal. No, not a “dear diary” kinda journal. This one's meant to take anything you can throw at it. I use this to write down ideas for my photos, YouTube channel, books, etc. I also sketch and add mental notes. Sometimes the only power I have is the power in my camera batteries so I need something that I can keep all my notes in. I have several of these, some of them are actual journals and some are sketchbooks filled to the brim. Each of them are different and each of them special. I typically stick with leather bound books since they age and wear so well, but this one is a hard red cover and so far it's easy to keep clean and the pages and durable and strong. Not bad for 15 bucks.

Pick one up at a local bookstore or on Amazon.

Fourth essential: A watch. This one is also by Fossil. Can you tell I am a little bit biased to this aesthetic? Haha. It's not actually a waterproof watch but it has definitely seen it's fair share of water. (OOPS!) One of the sexiest accessories for us dudes, in my opinion, is a good watch. For some guys it's a suit, for some it's crisp shirts, for me I like watches (and boots!) Do any of you also wear you watch on the “wrong” wrist? I am right handed and I wear my watches on the right hand. I don't know of a lot of people who do that... Sure a watch can tell you what time it is, but a good watch makes a good impression by letting people know as you shake their hand what kind of personality you have. I like my watches with leather or wood bands, and my face and accent colors in gold, silver, brown, black, or white. I don't like anything too flashy so if there are any jewels the overall design needs to be very sleek and clean.

Brand: Fossil   Cost: Under $100  Favorite Part: Face design 

My Fifth and final essential is a lucky charm. A $2 bill. I got this bill when I was in elementary school. I've had this in my wallet since the day I got it. It's been through the wash, the mud, breakups, adventures, and still managed to still look like actual currency. Even when I desperately needed money, and there have been times, I keep this bill as an off limits lucky charm. I honestly cannot remember why this bill was so important to me. Maybe it's the styling, maybe because it's uncommon, or maybe it was just something unique and different, but either way it's always with me.

So that's it. These were the 5 non-camera gear related essentials that I take with me on my adventures. Be sure to let me know what your adventure essentials are!

Until next time, cheers.

 

Stephen

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The Heart And Mind Are Heavy

 Spring time and the fields are filled with wild daisies. 

Spring time and the fields are filled with wild daisies. 

So.....I haven't died. Hahaha... It has been a while since I have posted anything and for that I am sorry. Truth be told I've taken time away from really posting anything on any of my social media except for one..... and it's just been a constant storm of frustration. With everything that has been going on in my country and the world in the last two weeks it's just been extra stress on an already stressed out time. I had written out several posts about how I wanted to address it, but I found that talking about in my podcast actually was the best way to do it. Unfortunately, after I had posted it, things took a turn into a more chaotic state.

Watching a man be murdered on camera really struck a nail in the soul for me and I haven't quite recovered from it in all honesty. With all that's going on right now I just want to say this one thing. Regardless of what your perspective is, you can love something and be proud of it, be loyal to it, and still recognize it's flaws and it's weaknesses. Loving our country, for example, doesn't mean you can't be critical of it. It means that by recognizing it's flaws and using critical discussion and thought you are showing true patriotism because you are proving that you want it to be better than it is. For now, that's all I want to say on the subject. Stay safe out there and be good to one another.

Transitioning to another happier subject. This weekend is the annual Tualatin Artsplash art show and I will be participating this year with a booth! Last year's show was such an enjoyable experience and I am looking forward to going. If you are interested the show will be Friday - Sunday 11am – 6pm each day. There are a lot of great local artists with some awesome musical guests! It's going to be hotter than hell this weekend so make sure to bring or pick up some water!

In other great news, especially for those of you who subscribe to my YouTube channel, I am working on developing a webseries focusing on the Pacific Northwest. I have been spending weeks building the Kickstarter application and will be sending it in shortly. I am super excited because this is a project I have been wanting to do for a very long time and with some help I think I could bring it to life.

I hope that you guys will help support it come to fruition and even if you can't donate I hope that you'll share it with your friends and family!

I am going to leave it there for now, I have a million things to do to get ready for the weekend and not a lot of time to do it!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram, Subscribe to me on YouTube, and follow the podcast on Souncloud! Great things are going to happen.

Be smart, be strong, and be fearless.

Love to you all,

Stephen  

28 things I've learned in 28 years.

It's that time of the year again. Summer has just begun and we are halfway through the year. Oh yeah, and it's my birthday or something, idk. No but really, the older I've gotten the harder birthdays are to deal with. Not to make a fun day pessimistic, that's not my intention, it's just that some people love getting older but I am not one of them. Maybe it is because I am still seeking fulfillment – I'm not satisfied with my life yet so I am not ready to embrace what a birthday really signifies.

That being said, I still recognize that a birthday is important and that it's a moment when you can sit back eat pancakes all day, watch your favorite movies, and reflect on just how much you have (hopefully) accomplished in you life thus far. So (read the next line with intense sarcasm) since I have lived a magical 28 years, I thought I would reflect with a listicle for you all to share my infinite wisdom (my eyes rolled so far back in my head I could see my spine). Haha here we go.

  1. SAVE YOUR MONEY. For the love of god save your money. Trust me, when you get to a point in your life that you want to do something either for a living you'll need a nest egg. I didn't do that...hahahaha...ugh. I've had a job since I was 13 years old and I spent it almost as fast as I've made it. Well that is until the college years, then things got a TON more expensive and money was ….scarce haha.
  2. Never discourage someone else from trying something new. Don't tell your friends to not explore their interests. Do NOT tell your children they aren't capable of amazing things. Do NOT tell a student they will never amount to anything. Words have more weight than you can even imagine. Never in good conscious be the reason the next Mozart doesn't play the piano. It may take years of practice, but who knows what can happen? Sure, not everyone will be successful at the thing they want to try, but it's their natural-born right to try.
  3. Mental health is equally important as physical health. Take care of your mind and emotions as much as, if not more than you take care of your body. You deserve to be happy and you deserve the chance to achieve that. Seek help if you need it. In previous generations they swept it under the carpet, but for my generation and younger this isn't possible, it's unbearable. Embrace your problems and learn to combat them head on with out fear.
  4. LEARN CURSIVE HANDWRITING. It's helpful and beautiful. Not everything needs to be shorthand.
  5. Online tutorials save lives. Hahaha no but seriously. YouTube tutorials have taught me more about real life situations than 99% of my schooling ever has. I've learned how to fix, build, and craft all kinds of things from watching videos about it. School, while incredibly important, doesn't exactly teach you how to “adult,” but YouTube will. Haha.
  6. Learn a second language. Even on a basic level it just helps with broadening your view of the world and your patience for those around you whom are trying to learn your language.
  7. Engage people in intelligent dialogue. I know in today's time it's all about SHOUTING YOUR OPINION THE LOUDEST AND F**K ANYONE WHO THINKS DIFFERENTLY AND THAT PERSON IS THE WORST PERSON BECAUSE THEY DON'T THINK THIS THING I THINK AND I AM KIND OF PICKING A SMALL DETAIL OUT IN ORDER TO MAKE THEM LOOK BAD PLEASE FOLLOW MY TWITTER. Painful to read that, wasn't it? People have forgotten what discussion and debate is. It's not shouting at another, it's listening to a person's perspective, acknowledging it politely, and then presenting counter points that target their points but doesn't attack the person directly. In the end it's not about right and wrong, those two things are different for everyone so why bother fighting on it. It's about all sides, and I use “all” instead of “both” because there are more than two sides to any topic, coming together to create a cohesive understanding and direction that betters all parties involved. Agreeing to disagree is still a better resolution than tearing someone else down because they believe differently than you.
  8. It's okay to not want to have a child. It's okay to not be able to have a child. It's not okay to talk down to someone who has made this decision or is in this scenario.
  9. It is important to learn the difference between “than” and “then.” LEARN IT. :D
  10. Giving up isn't necessarily a bad thing. Giving up can be a healthier option than sticking with something. It depends on the situation.
  11. It's not the end of the world if the dog barks, gets on the couch, steals a piece of food, or has an accident. It can be annoying as F***, but it's not the end of the world.
  12. TIRES ARE EXPENSIVE. Holy crap no one tells you that in the beginning. TIRES ARE INSANELY EXPENSIVE.
  13. She's (or he's) cute. Talk to her. Even if it's just “hello.”
  14. Being “Friendzoned” is not a bad thing. It just means you have another friend and you're lucky. Get over it.
  15. Artists deserve to be paid for their work. This is non-negotiable. (slipped that one in just because haha)
  16. Walls can be patched and painted. They're meant to take some wear and tear. Take a deep breath, you can tackle the project! ** Jon this does not apply to you and your love of hammering nails into the wall. Seriously kid, command strips only for you.**
  17. Everybody gets zits. Even 90 year old people.
  18. Scars can be sexy and cool. Every scar has a story, even if it's as dumb as “I kicked the dishwasher.”
  19. Laughing in times of great pain and sadness is important. It's how we cope. It's how we temporarily escape to a better place. It provides us we reassurance that we can and we will get through it.
  20. Bees aren't out to get you. Bees are awesome. Wasps are assholes.
  21. Dogs are better than cats. Sorry.
  22. No country is better or worse than another. The positives and negatives are different. That's it.
  23. “American” does NOT mean “white.” “Insert faith of choice” does NOT mean foreigner.
  24. “Pro” something does NOT mean “anti” something else.
  25. “Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake-hole” - 1,000,000 bonus points if you get that reference.
  26. No one ever really leaves high school. Most “career” work places are exactly like high school so find or create a work space that is better than that. People can be petty so just take a deep breath and subtweet them on Twitter.
  27. Puppy breath is literally the best worst smell on the planet. Hands down.
  28. You should totally pledge to Stephen Miller's Kickstarter web-series film project that will be launching next month.   

Favorite Shots Episode 2

Happy Monday, everyone.

Well those are two words that I rarely get put together, haha. I spent most of last week up in Seattle, Washington and most of the surrounding area. Unfortunately this wasn't a camping and hiking adventure, though I am planning a few of those even as I type this, but it was still great to get out of Oregon and head back up north. 

The purpose of this trip was all about relaxation. As some of you other small business owners know, when you are self-employed you don't stop working; 6 am to 12pm day in and day out I am editing images, film, websites, etc, and it's been a long time since I took a restful work-cation. Although my time in Seattle was just a quick overnight stay, it really relaxed the mind and my creative spirit. The city was essentially empty and the sky was the clearest I have seen since summer ended. It was really hard to leave.

The same day I returned to Portland I decided to drive out to Mt. Hood since the skies here were also clear as a bell and the mountain was freshly covered from a recent dumping of snow. The roads down to Trillium Lake were dusted in snow that was quickly becoming pressed into a layer of ice. Although my SUV was able to traverse the steep hill and an ice, others were not so fortunate. There were a few sedans and coupes lining the sides, and at one point the center, of the road and people were working together to get them unstuck. Even with the delays, and the total driving time for that day coming to 9.5 hours, it was still enjoyable and the trip to the mountain was worth the view. I love when winter starts and the snow begins to fall. 

Be sure to check the gallery below to see some of my favorite shots from this past week. 

Make sure to follow me on Instagram for the latest images! @imstephenmiller

Favorite Shots Episode 1

Hi guys!

Hope everyone is enjoying no-school/no-shave/no-sun November! Hahaha... I am, despite the painfully grey and dismal sky and not to mention the waaaaay too early Christmas music flooding the speakers and floors of every shopping center in America. :P Then again, it is halfway through the month. I cannot believe how fast this month is going!

I wanted to introduce a new thing here on my website, "Favorite Shots." My hope is that this will be a weekly round up of my favorite photographs from the previous week. The reason for doing this is not everyone has an Instagram account and can't always see the work I am posting there, therefore this is the easiest way of sharing my work with all of you! 

Sometimes I will include other mediums of mine, but "Favorite Shots" will be predominantly dedicated to my photography and will time to time feature other photographer's work that I love and encourage you to support too! 

Make sure to click through the gallery, give this post a like, and let me know which one is your favorite in the comments section or on my Facebook page!  

Enjoy your day! 

Cheers,

Stephen

The Columbia Gorge at my Feet

©Stephen Miller 2015

Setting up this business has taken a toll on my social life… to say the least. I have recently made the conscious decision to once again regularly hangout with friends whom I haven’t seen in a very long time. The trouble is we aren’t 18 any more. Most of us have full time jobs, and some even have families now. Which is by no means a negative thing! It’s great that everyone is growing up and finding their way, but it makes staying in touch all the more difficult of a thing to do. So, what then? Do I go out and find all new friends and start over? No, but adding new people to my group of friends is great, and I am hoping that as I get more and more in to my photography and YouTube that my group of friends who share common interests and desire to make online content expands.

Now more than ever I have a strong desire to be adventurous. When I think about the things I want to do to create my content I can’t stop picturing myself no longer in my current city. What I think I want more than anything right now is a place uniquely and truly my own. However I realize that maybe it’s not quite time to step completely out on my own again, but I can make the effort to “baby step” it.

What’s been really exciting for me as of late is with this whole move to create content for online consumption is the amount of support and participation I have received from people who initially I would have expected to not “get it” or see the reason/appeal to it. Rather, I have gotten excited text messages and emails encouraging me to go for it. Even better, in specific relation to my vlogging, people are open to it and are curious and asking me questions about it.  It’s awesome. For so long I stupidly thought that people in my group of friends wouldn’t vibe this kind of work or interest, but I was COMPLETELY mistaken.

In an effort to jump-start this new attitude and lifestyle I am looking to live, I am trying to do more activities that require full body effort. I have always been envious of one of my best mates, Danny, who is this outdoors buff –cross fit doing- mountain man and his adventures hiking, backpacking, and camping. He’s really inspired me to try and take up those activities more seriously, not only for health reasons, but also for work. 

©Stephen Miller 2015

That’s why this past week he and I went out on my first hike in probably almost a year. Yeah, I know… Sad. Danny and I decided to do the Drift Tail Falls hike just outside of Lincoln City here on the Oregon coast. The weather was supposed to be wet, cold, and overcast. Perfect. Overcast weather allows for excellent diffusion of light and the wet plant life will add great texture to images. Whilst driving the hour and half long route to the trailhead I filled Danny in on my business plans and introduced him to my new Canon 5d mark iii and Vlark, my vlogging camera. He got to experience what it’s like to vlog a day first hand and surprisingly was really natural and comfortable in front of the camera!

When we reached the trailhead the ground was still kind of damp from the rain earlier that morning and there were only a few other cars in the lot. Perfect! However, what ended up happening is as we hiked down to the beautiful waterfall the temperature quickly changed and what was supposed to be cold and overcast quickly became hot, muggy, and clear skies. Unfortunately that meant we would arrive at the waterfall during high sun – meaning the worst light to shoot in because it either underexposes or overexposes the image out of the gate. I still managed to get a few shots that I was satisfied with, but it means I will have to head back when the weather is better to get the shots I wanted. Not a problem!

©Stephen Miller 2015, Drift Tail Falls 

©Stephen Miller 2015

The next day I had plans to meet up with a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in over a year. I have known her since elementary school and she is essentially a sister. She had recently purchased a new camera, after my encouraging text messages haha, and wanted to learn how to use it properly. She was so excited, how could I say no? Besides, having another friend interested in photography is a total plus.

Susan and I decided to head up to Rowena’s Crest for the sunset. Let me tell you, if you live in Oregon or are visiting here, and you haven’t gone to the Columbia Gorge to watch the sunset, you are truly missing out on one of the most beautiful views in the entire state. I updated each other on life and business, just like I did with Danny, and received nothing but positive and excited feedback on my new ventures and directions. Whew.

© Stephen Miller 2015

As we arrive at the top of the Columbia gorge we are greeted by a nearly set sun and a beautifully lit landscape filling the 360° view.  We got out our cameras and began her lesson. We spent probably a good hour there practicing landscape and portrait photography. I was surprised how easily she got it. Soon she was off shooting her own compositions and doing rather well and we have agreed to do more “Instagram missions” in the future!

All in all I had an amazing week. This upcoming week is packed with things to do and I am hoping to sneak a hike or two in.

Hope you all had an amazing week and weekend too. Be sure to let me know what your favorite places are to visit or hike! My list keeps growing!

In the mean time, remember to never be afraid of where you have come from and always be excited about where you are going.

Cheers,

Stephen

Going solo!

Hey everyone!

Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday, even though I know that since it is Monday 90% of the world is not having a good day, but still. Haha. Anyways, I wanted to share some exciting news with you all incase you hadn’t watched the YouTube vlog I posted a few days ago.

Starting next February I will have my very first solo exhibition of my work! I have been invited by a fellow artist to showcase my photography at the gallery she manages inside a healthcare facility. The gallery features a lot of local artists and they are hard at work at becoming a staple in the Hillsboro art community. I am very excited for the show, not only because it’s the first solo show I will be having, but because it’s giving me a ton of inspiration for the theme I want to showcase. Now I won’t give too much away right now, mostly because I am still planning it, but I think the subject matter will be something a lot of people will be able to connect with while still allowing me to express my own artistic perspective.

The show will be held in Hillsboro, Oregon. The exhibition I believe will be up for three months and there will be 20-30 pieces showcased.

In preparation for the show I have started to plan out a month – month and a half –long adventure up the pacific coast and along side the cascades for later this year. In addition to new works for the show, I have also started my own YouTube channel where people can watch my vlogs, photography videos, how to’s, and travel adventures! The trip will also to help me create great new content to be featured on the channel, and as part of my plan I will be developing a multi-episode series for the channel about the trip and what it takes to put a show together!

I am so excited I can barely type!

My YouTube channel will be the place that my audience will get to know me the best. My vlogs will allow people to share in my daily life as well as the other content I create to showcase my work and interests! I want my channel to be a positive and honest place. No lies or secrets. I want it to be my happy place.

If you get a chance make sure to jump on over to YouTube and subscribe to my channel. You can click right here to open it! Right now I currently have mostly vlogs up, but in the coming months additional content is coming!

Thank you to all of you for being a part of this journey with me. My love and thanks to you all. I have never been more excited for the future and am truly humbled and honored that I am fortunate to be chasing my dreams.

Much respect and gratitude,

 

Stephen

 

The Art of Control

It should be common knowledge by know that I am type A personality. Although it’s not as bad now as it used to be, but it’s definitely still me. In an effort to train myself to be less obsessive, not only in my own life but also my artistic abilities, I have made the decision to practice using difficult (for me) techniques to express my inspirations through a more free of hand artistic style.

I get so focused on the details when it comes to painting. That's part of the reason why I got in to photography. It was easier to capture what I wanted the way I wanted it. I have been (and still am to a degree) frustrated that I wasn't able to depict my ideas in paint with the realistic results. Realism used to be the only style of painting that I wanted to be good at when I was in school, and I would beat myself up every time I couldn't achieve it. However, at this point in my career my priorities have changed and I don't feel as out of control personally the way I used to. I believe because I finally took charge of my life and chose to pursue my interest’s full time the need for such control over the detail in my work is no longer necessary. The desire for realism was a manifestation of the psychology behind my depression; I was out of control emotionally and needed to have control over something all the way down to the details. It’s made me unfortunately neurotic but I am trying my best to reverse it.

I have always admired those who can capture their ideas through abstract representation and impressionistic paintings. These two techniques are the most desirable for me to learn. I have never felt comfortable “letting go” of the obsessive tendencies that have prevented me from practicing these styles more often. However, in an effort to push myself beyond my current artistic capabilities, I have decided to start a painting series focused on abstract and impressionistic styles. I feel that the more I am to capture expression through lack of realistic details the more I will be able to develop my understanding of the relationship between color and stroke which in turn will help me to depict realistic detail.

 ©Stephen Miller 2015

©Stephen Miller 2015

First up in the series of abstract paintings is one I call “Heaven’s Rain.” I’ve been really inspired by light lately and this painting was my abstract representation of what happens to light when it refracts and splits into a spectrum. Color has metaphysical aspects to it. I am not a religious man, but if I were, color is probably one of the closest things to godliness I could find. Now I don’t want to go into a philosophical discussion about color and metaphysics (okay I do but I won’t), but if you have time do some research in to the philosophical and psychological discussions behind color theory it makes for an interesting read.

Okay, getting waaaaaay off topic. Sorry, my degree is in philosophy so when ever I get the chance to talk in that format I just kind of…word vomit. :P 

I’ll end with this: With enough practice and patience anything is possible – well not willing away your student debt – but you get what I mean.

Down below there are also some other pics you should check out. Including a look inside my current studio (aka the spare room :P )

Cheers,

Stephen


I Promise

I swear I am going to start blogging more… I tell myself as I check Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, other Tumblr account, email, Snapchat, Tagstr, Vine, Periscope, and more… Well now I am just tired.

I am writing this blog post a little update to all friends and followers about what’s been happening the last few weeks and why I have only been pretty much minimally active on everything. Also, I have gotten a few emailed questions from people I’ve met at shows/online about art, design, and photography related topics and I thought maybe that would be something that more than one person would find interesting so why not turn it in to future blog posts!

SO the last week or so has been interesting. My grandmother (that’s my mom’s step mom for those of you who know the family) is entering in to her last stages of life. In preparation for the end she wants to make things easier on the family and my grandpa by going through her belongings with everyone before it becomes what she calls a “burden” on us. I have to give her credit for dealing with this so directly. I mean, she is a pretty damn strong woman so I am not surprised, but should still give her major props.

Last Friday I went down with my mom and brother to spend the day with her going through items she wanted to pass to me, and as I found out that day, clean the pond out in the backyard. Hmmm. Sneaky sneaky! J

After Bryan, my older brother, and I had spent the better part of the morning emptying what can only be described as rotting death water from the pond – I am not kidding, it was putrid - it was time to start the task I was originally asked to come help with.

I posted about this on my Instagram (@imstephenmiller fyi) that going through her art supplies was probably the hardest task she could have asked of me. Why? My grandma is phenomenal artist, her passion and dedication to her mediums was and is unwavering. It was soul crushing to watch her go through and organize the things that brought her so much love and enjoyment, if not also purpose, and to put these items in plain old boxes as if they were like any other day-to-day item.

It wasn’t all bad/sad. She opened boxes of old sketches and found poems and pieces that us grandkids did when we were “little shavers.” She got to see work she did years ago and hasn’t seen since because it’s been buried under quilting material or canvases. She shared stories about each and every piece. All the reference pictures she saved, still life’s she’s done, everything. It was all there. Even great grandpa Harold’s old sketches and lesson books. She could tell me almost everything about every item she had. As she spoke you could see the joy …and the sadness on her face knowing that this was going to be the last time she would see them…

It was the first time that the sense of mortality was present for me. Her recounting her memories made the inevitability of her death all the more real. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for that. When I got home all I could do was cry. I just sat there starring at the stuff. I still am as I sit here sorting through paper and paint just thinking about what each of the items I am holding meant for her. You can feel people’s spirit in the things the love. Every one of us leaves a piece of ourselves in the things that mean the most. I can tell which brushes she loved to use the most and what colors were here favorite and that she was always running out of them… haha. It’s hard to explain, but maybe I shouldn’t try. Most of you will know exactly what I am talking about anyways.

I’ve managed now to go through probably 90% of what she gave me and organized it in to my “studio.” Let’s just say space is………limited now. If only the room were 50 square feet bigger!

Out of all my grandparents, grandma Pat has always been the most encouraging when it came to my art. I remember getting chewed out the day she heard that I stopped pursuing my art degree. She was so disappointed, but on some level I think she empathized with my own artistic frustrations. However, I am glad she has opportunity to see me pursue my love before she passes.

I will never forget the words she said to me before I left Friday. “Stephen, don’t you dare ever give up on your art again. You have to take the time to craft your skills in ALL of your mediums. You have to promise me.”

I did promise. I do promise.

Mostly because I don’t want to be haunted hahaha and I KNOW she would too!

I look forward to sharing the treasures I find with you all. Until next time.

Cheers,

 

-Stephen

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ArtSplash!

Yesterday concluded the three-day art show at Tualatin’s ArtSplash. It was such an interesting show. Due to the nature of smaller shows you are more likely to meet your neighbors and get to know not only about their art and products, but also about them as people. That is probably the thing I enjoyed most about this show:  getting to expand my network of artists.

Years ago when I chose to leave my art behind, albeit temporarily, but I effectively shut down the opportunity for creating a circle or network of people that shared the exact artistic interests and experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I love my group of friends more than anything else, but not really having any one to share the more creative side from the perspective of one also being an artist was something I always felt was missing. This show provided me the chance to really socialize with other artists and engage socially in a way that I haven’t really done in a long time; creator to creator.

I got to know several local artists in varying mediums from jewelry to oils. Although the rain kept the larger crowds away in the later days of the show, we as participants we then granted the opportunity to chit chat and get to know one another. *I’ll make sure to link and list those (that I know of) that I met at the end of this post.

Day one was great! Set up was a breeze and there was excitement in the air. We had a great band and singer perform that night and as the show went on we got to rock out from our booths. Haha. Yes, we actually did dance and sing right along with the crowd, and after the show ended they came back in to the tent and spent the remained of the show talking, shopping, and having an all around good time.

The second day kicked off with dark clouds and rain… not a great way to start day two, haha, to say the least. Time seemed to kind of drag on as the rain came down. People tended to stay indoors for most of the day but even still the crowd would ebb and flow. By about 4 o’clock though it was apparent that we, the staff and participants, were the only ones really there. So what did we do? We made the best of it! A group of us opened a bottle of wine (or two), laughed, and shared stories from our adventures and family life. We had a blast. Yes, selling out every piece in stock would have been FANTASTIC, but I have to say, that evening was so much fun. I even ended up giving some serious marketing advice in the form of Instagram tutorials. I love talking about that stuff; it makes me feel useful, lol.

The third day started out great. After Saturday’s less then desired crowd activity, the artists (at least in my group) returned with renewed energy and positive attitudes. We weren’t even officially open yet and a few of us had some sales! It was a great start. The weather was cooperating and the show had invited chalk artists to come out and bring the sidewalks to life! There was even a gigantic kid’s art section, which was filled with so many creative and colorful chalk drawings from the visiting kids! I ended up having my most successful day on Sunday. The large canvas print I had done of Smith Rock sold at the end of the day and I had a woman who wants to talk about a large order for her office. It felt great to hear how much people enjoyed and wanted my work.

I have to give major kudos to Heidi and her team for organizing and coordinating such a well put together show. They provided us participants with marketing materials, set up materials, extra art racks, quality 24-hour security, and a wonderfully clean environment to showcase our work. So Heidi, if you by chance are reading this, thank you again for all of your hard work and to your phenomenal volunteers. Thank you!

I am taking the feedback from this show and moving forward with some other ideas I have to make future shows even better.

Thank you again to all those who made this show so enjoyable.  Be sure to click through some of the pictures below and to check out each of the artists listed below.

Here’s to future successes for us all!

Stephen 


Open Exhibition and the Start of the Show Season

Yesterday evening marked the beginning of a three month-long exhibition at the Sherwood Center for the Arts in Sherwood, Oregon. I am very excited because three of my pieces are apart of the exhibition entitled, “Spirit of the Northwest.” Seven artists were chosen to represent this theme through each of their respected mediums. I was the only photographer selected to be a part of the show. Made me feel a little special, needless to say!

I was joined by my brother, Jon, and my fellow artist and friend, Meg, at the opening reception last night. I have to be honest and admit that I was nervous because I didn't know what to expect; would people like my art, would they like me? Within the first five minutes of being there I was at ease. Two of my pieces hung proudly in the entrance to the center amongst the other artists' and the third was apart of the line up to hang in the adjacent hallway.

There was a lot of talent on the walls last night and I am honored to be among them. After viewing all of the pieces I have to say that I had a clear favorite. “Baker Road Beauty” by Victoria Poarch was a beautiful watercolor on paper. Watercolors have always my most favorite medium so I was naturally drawn to her piece.

Overall there was a really great turnout; small and casual which is easier to manage when getting to know a new art community. There were about 30-35 people there over the course of two hours and all had really positive things to say about our works. I met Amy Osborne, a painter, who also curates the RoseSprings Gallery in Hillsboro and might I say is a PRO at networking, hahaha. I really enjoyed her an her work. Amy, if you're reading this, thank you again for all the support! Let's talk again soon!

Click below to see some of the photos from last night!


Hope you all can get over there to check it out! Well I am off to get things ready for the C3 Bend Summer Festival here in Bend, Oregon! Looking forward to seeing some of you there tomorrow and Sunday!

Cheers,

Stephen

Tick Tock Goes the Clock

In little less than a month now my first two shows will begin! I am so excited to finally be able to share my works for sale in the Bend Summer Festival and as part of a collection in the Sherwood Center for the Arts.

It's always been my dream, as with every artist, to have that moment of success where someone (who isn't your mother) says, “Yes! I like this, I want your art to be a part of this thing of mine.” Now, in just a few months, I have gone from having nothing on my resumé to being booked for four shows (and hopefully more to come soon). I am both nervous and excited for these events. I don't know exactly what I am doing yet, but I am confident I will be able to adapt in no time!

I sent my images to the printer to be printed on beautiful hahnemuhle photo rag paper, which is my favorite to print on because of the high end look and time-tested resistance to fading. They should be done in less than a week thanks to my amazing printer, Brian, at Pearl-Printing here in Portland. Once those are done then it's off to the framer to have custom frames made for some of the images. I really wanted to make my own frames and just have nice glass cut for them because I am more of a hands on kind of guy, but I think with the time line it's probably best to have a professional do it. Darn!

As I am typing this I am in Eastern Oregon doing some last minute shooting for the upcoming shows. I spent all of yesterday exploring the trails and scenery at the base of the Sisters' mountains. The North Sister shines like a diamond on top of a crown. She is the largest of the three and is by far my favorite. The South Sister and Broken Top (technically the third sister) were not to be out done as they were too illuminated by crystal clear skies and surrounded by gorgeous cedar and California red wood forests. If you every get the chance to come here, go out an explore!

North Sister, Bend, OR ©Stephen Miller 2015

Well I am off! Back to driving around the high desert and maybe even up to Three Fingered Jack today. Could be fun! Click through the gallery below to see more Photos!

What are you up to today?

Cheers