OCEANSIDE — For local artist Maria Miller, painting is a portal to nature, one where people who enjoy the outdoors but are confined to busy schedules can pause to enjoy a landscape of brushstrokes, hues and shades.
Miller’s passion for art blossomed as a young girl growing up in Pennsylvania.
When she was feeling down, she would paint in her room while listening to music. At one point, she stole her mother’s watercolor set to use, which set the trajectory of her artistic style.
“It’s always been an outlet for me to express myself,” Miller said.
Her life’s goal at one time was to find a career that made her wealthy enough so she could retire early and spend the rest of her days painting. At the time, her mother reminded her she didn’t have to wait to have enough money to pursue her dreams.
One of her biggest inspirations was French impressionist Claude Monet’s artwork. She recalled staring at a poster of his “Water Lilies” painting in fourth grade, dressing up as his wife in the “Lady with a Parasol” portrait during a high school project, and unknowingly buying a poster of one of his paintings to hang over her bed in college.
In 2017, Miller moved to San Francisco, where she received her graduate degree in counseling psychology – and married her husband, Derek. The Southern California coastline quickly served as inspiration for her after the couple moved into their first home in Oceanside in 2021.
It was around the time she moved to North County that she returned to her artistic roots a little after taking a hiatus from painting. Since then, Miller has been busy painting scenic views of Oceanside, Carlsbad and other North County spots, along with landscapes throughout the West, stretching from Montana to Arizona, from the high deserts of Joshua Tree back to the Southern California coast.
She currently has works on display in the league’s North Coastal Art Gallery in Carlsbad. There, she recently earned her first honorable mention ribbon in the watercolor media category for her piece, “Golden Dreams,” which depicts a scenic view of California poppies on a hillside overlooking the ocean.
Miller has also exhibited her artwork in Artist Alley during Oceanside’s First Fridays art walks and hopes to branch out to other local galleries in the future. She also sells originals and prints of her artwork on her website with the help of her husband, Derek, who assists her by scanning and printing her pieces.
“We’re a dynamic duo,” she said.
As an artist, Miller favors painting beautiful landscapes in real-time and photos. Much of her work includes elements of realism, featuring finer details of her subjects to depict a more realistic image, and impressionism, with its more stylized, feathered brush strokes that appear to ripple with the light as if in a dreamscape.
“I’ve learned that when you look at something like a tree, you see greens but also blues and yellows,” she said. “I see my art as a way to help people see more of what’s there and inspire them to be captivated by things around them. There’s beauty everywhere if we take the time to look and let ourselves look.”
Through her paintings, Miller hopes to provide a brief respite for those who enjoy being outdoors but can’t always escape into nature due to the daily grind.
Miller’s artwork will be on display until Dec. 31 in the North Coastal Art Gallery. She also plans to set up shop during the Holiday Oceanside Art Walk at The Seabird Resort on Dec. 1 from 4 to 8 p.m., where she will have prints, originals, cards, tote bags, ornaments and mugs for sale.
The best place to browse and purchase her art is on her website, mariamiller.art, and her Instagram, @mariamiller.art. Readers can get 25% off everything on her site through Jan. 31 by applying the “LOCAL25” discount code.