The Pop of Art
Three-dimensional oil artist JD Miller channels passion through paint
By Robin Jay and John D. Adams
JD Miller is standing beside a mounted blank canvas. “I’m going to paint, from start to finish, a three-dimensional oil painting,” he states before a capacity crowd at Samuel Lynne Galleries in Dallas, TX. The crowd erupts. But wait, there’s more. Much more. “The cool thing is,” he continues, “that it’s not just my energy that is going into this painting. It’s all of our energy. I have faith in the universe and I know something will be there.”
Welcome to Miller’s very special world of Reflectionist Art. His kinetic approach to both his live event work and his in-studio pieces is astoundingly just the first stop. Miller has developed a signature process of using massive amounts of oil paints to literally sculpt images onto the canvas. The fusion of cosmic energy and artistic inspiration has propelled Miller to the forefront of the contemporary art scene while anointing him the founding father and inspirational guru of today’s Reflectionist Art movement.
Rhythm and joy
You know a JD Miller painting immediately. Even from far across a room. Forget for a moment his revolutionary oil sculpting technique. From across that room, the rhythm of a Miller painting is palpable. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that for most of his early Texas years, Miller voraciously studied guitar, trumpet, and piano.
By college, Miller maintained his musical interest, but found himself equally drawn to pottery and sculpture. By the time he finished his undergraduate music and sculpture work at the University of North Texas, Miller had created a flourishing business producing commercial music. But after 10 years, he was burned out. He sold the business and began work as an account executive with CBS radio.
As his creative energy recharged, Miller truly had an “a-ha” moment that would change the face of contemporary oil painting. “Because I was trained as a potter I immediately saw the connection between oil paint and the plastic, clay-like qualities of it. I just sort of merged ceramics and classical master oil painting techniques. That’s how I started doing the 3-D technique.” But this is an academic topic. Miller stops for a moment. “I think the main thing for me is that my art is like a mission in life. My work is about joy, it’s about reflecting the higher vibrations of the human experience. There’s a lot of negative art, and I guess it’s a reflection of some of the negativity in our world, but I choose not to dwell on that. I try to be as positive as I can in my life, and grateful, and that’s what I put out. That’s what I put out into the universe and that’s what is mirrored or reflected back.”
Under another artist’s hand, Miller’s sculptural technique could easily devolve into a juvenile’s idea of a relief map. And there are now imitators on the market. But they lack the verve, the life essence that imbues a JD Miller work. That essence is, perhaps, the cornerstone of Miller’s Reflectionist movement.
“I really got the idea for it when I was in music,” said Miller. “I had a band called Reflection Theory. We were studying the law of attraction and applying that to music. I finally realized: ‘Wow, I need to apply this to art.’ Because that’s what we do, we reflect the universe and that’s where we came up with the idea. We were looking for something like impressionism, that could give it a term, and that’s when we came up with Reflectionism…
“A movement comes with time and I believe it is truly becoming a movement as more and more artists are doing it and word spreads, but it’s more of a school of art. By school I don’t mean an academic school; I mean a type of art that someone has invented and they’re teaching someone, and a lot of those wind up becoming movements, and that’s what we believe Reflectionism is doing, it’s in the process of becoming a movement.”
Ultimately, the benchmark of a Miller painting beyond the astounding 3-D technique, is the emotional energy it evokes and shares. Here, again, Miller’s work stands apart. “It’s about bringing joy to people. I feel joy creating it, but I love when people stand in front of my paintings and their eyes light up. You can tell it just makes them happy. That’s really, really important to me…
“I wake up every day and I do what I love, how rare and what a great thing. I don’t take it for granted. I’m just really thankful and I’m aware of it every day.”
JD Miller is represented by the Samuel Lynne Galleries. www.samuellynne.com. Visit his Web site at: www.jdmillerart.com