Local artist opens home studio to art students

Donnie Bryant donnie.bryant@empiretribune.com
Art students Katie Campbell, Meredyth Morris, Kyle Styron and Kadyn Bostic flank artist Leslie Miller as she demonstrates the use of water based oils. DONNIE BRYANT/E-T

Leslie Miller was an “army brat” who found her way to Stephenville in 1968 via Rome, Italy, when her father was invited to manage the campus book store at Tarleton State University. Her love of art manifested itself at an early age—her mother told her she was a precocious toddler who started drawing when she was just three years old. Now she has opened her art studio to fledgling talents embarking on the same path she has taken.

Question: You have your studio housed in the bed and breakfast efficiency apartment where you make your home. You say this environment is perfect for your lifestyle. You have even found musical soul mates in your landlords. How does this place inspire you as both an artist and an instructor?

Answer: “I love living here. The owners are musicians. And I, too, am a musician as well as an artist. So I knew I had found my home when I first saw this place.

“I’m restarting my teaching career. Rental space for teaching was more than I could afford. So I thought (she looks around her studio), ‘Why not here?’ This is the perfect atmosphere for it. It’s very unique, very different.

“And the people I meet here are from all over the world. There are all sorts of people who come through here, which gives me different ideas and exposure to different cultures.”

Question: You are a musician as well as a visual artist. Much like your love of the impressionist art of Monet, you admit to an affinity for the impressionist music of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. What other music genres do you appreciate?

Answer: “I am an eclectic person. When the Beatles came out, that was it for me. But I was exposed to classical music; my aunt was an opera singer. And I grew up with the Big Band Era because that was Mom and Dad’s era. I also grew up with Elvis, but he became very old to me when the Beatles came out.”

Question: Your technique appeals to aspiring art students of all ages—kids to adult. How would you describe your approach to teaching?

“I usually try to do the basics—teaching my students to go through shape and color. But I will not touch style. That’s their own personality. The best way to teach, especially with kids, is to have set ups and let them do pictures of animals and landscapes. The landscapes are warm ups because when the weather turns cooler I do outdoor painting with the kids.

“I don’t demand you have a vast artistic experience. Just come and take a class. Try one out.”

Leslie Miller can be contacted at artistles@yahoo.com.