The following information was submitted in April of 2006 by Wendy Sayers Reed, a granddaughter of the artist:
J. Vance Miller (1912-2002)
Born: November 12, 1912, Princeton, West Virginia.
He was the third of six children to James Arthur and Eva Maude Miller.
Vance married Elizabeth Sue Ellis (Libby) February 13, 1935 at the age of 22, whom he met in grade school.
In the 1930's Vance became a salesman for the Maytag Corporation. In 1943 he moved the family to Baltimore to help work on ships to participate in the war effort. After the war, they returned to Princeton, West Virginia where he worked as an appliance salesman until 1955.
A gift of a watercolor set started Vance on his love of painting and after much trial and error he painted his first painting in 1944.
Over a period of 20 years Vance and Libby had five children, James Marvin, Nancy Sue (Sayers), Mary Ellis (Campbell), Vance Edward, and Lisa Dawn (Holdren). The children grew up having numerous picnics and hiking trips on creek banks, mountainsides and beside waterfalls so that Vance could paint. He was quoted to say, "to study light, you need to be where light is".
Original J. Vance Miller paintings were produced on window shades that became "canvas" during the lean years of the mid 40's. In 1955 Vance moved the family to Blacksburg, Virginia where he sold mobile homes in the evenings and on weekends, allowing him the daylight to paint.
Mrs. Ruth Fisher encouraged Vance to continue his art work. In 1961 they joined together to open The Palette Art Gallery, a non-profit gallery, in Christiansburg, Virginia.
After the older children moved away from home, Vance and Libby traveled with their two younger children to scenes that had inspired him in books. The following are trips that were taken where he painted on location; Yosemite, Grand Canyon, New Mexico, Southern Coast of California, Gulf Coast of Florida, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Vance considered the paintings he did in the Jefferson National Forest outside of Blacksburg, Virginia to be some of his finest work, (and favorite place to be), especially a two mile stretch of Little Stoney Creek in Giles County, Virginia.
Vance was a self-taught artist who dropped out of school at the end of his 8th grade year. He started painting full-time at the age of 57. Many of his early painting sold for $20.00 or $30.00. They now hang in homes across the country.
Vance was preceded in death by two of his children, and his wife Libby. He died January 21, 2002 at the age of 89, Blacksburg, Virginia. He is survived by one son and two daughters Vance Edward, Nancy Miller Sayers and Lisa Miller Holdren; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Subjects and Style: American Impressionism. In the early 1940' he began painting with watercolors but switched to using oil paint and a brush in the mid 1940's. In the mid 1950's he began using a palette knife, believing he could achieve more accurate colors and depth from his oil paints.
Though best known for landscapes, rivers, creeks, mountainsides, on rare occasion he painted florals, consignment pieces, portraits and other still life.
Exhibits and Shows:
Art show debuting his work at Red Sky Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina (November, 2003)
Museum Show presented by The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art May 30-August 23, 1997
The Knoxville World's Fair in 1982
4 Shows at Avery Galleries in Marietta, Georgia
Four one man shows at Lyzon Galleries in Nashville, Tennessee
A one man show at Veerhoff's in Washington, D.C.
Six one man shows at The White House Galleries in Roanoke, Virginia
A one man show at Art World West in Richmond, Virginia
Art show at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Virginia
Art show at The Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Virginia
Fine Arts Museum of Western Virginia
Two one man shows at The Parthenon Art Gallery, Nashville, Tennessee
Several one man shows, The Palette Art Gallery, Christiansburg, Virginia
Commerce Union Bank Award at the Central South Show
He was Artist in Residence, The Greenbrier Hotel, Lewisburg, West Virginia
Honor received by The State of Virginia: State Resolution HJ 673
J. Vance Miller Day, January 8, 2000
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 673
On the death of James Vance Miller.
Agreed to by the House of Delegates, January 24, 2003
Agreed to by the Senate, January 30, 2003
WHEREAS, James Vance Miller of Blacksburg, an accomplished American impressionist artist, died on January 21, 2002; and
WHEREAS, a native of Princeton, James Miller spent many years in West Virginia before moving to Blacksburg in 1955; and
WHEREAS, James Miller was a successful salesman for Harry Crismond and A and U Mobile Homes in Blacksburg; and
WHEREAS, James Miller delighted in capturing the splendor of God's creation in his impressionist paintings, especially at Little Stoney Creek in the Jefferson National Forest, one of the artist's favorite places to reflect, paint, and enjoy the beauty of Giles County; and
WHEREAS, well exhibited in one-man shows in several states, James Miller was also honored with a Museum Show at the Atlanta-Marietta Museum in Georgia in 1997; and
WHEREAS, an original founder of the Palette Art Gallery in Christiansburg, James Miller will be remembered through his many wonderful paintings in the homes of admirers across the country and abroad; and
WHEREAS, James Miller will be missed by his loving family and countless friends; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby note with sadness the passing of a talented and valuable citizen of the Commonwealth, James Vance Miller; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the family of James Vance Miller as an expression of the General Assembly's respect for his memory.
Sources: Most information came to me first hand from J. Vance Miller. Some dates and specific information were verified by his daughters, Nancy Miller Sayers and Lisa Miller Holdren.
Show information was obtained from articles in the following newspapers:
Roanoke Times and World News, The New River Current, Vol. 5, No. 216 Saturday, November 7, 1992
(Article entitled, "Still painting the town...artist at 80 continues to create scenes of joy") by Becky Hepler, staff writer
The Mount Airy News Wednesday, October 14, 1987
(Article entitled, "Self-Taught Artist Honoring Blue Ridge Mountains") by Jodi Smith, staff writer.
The Roanoke Times Wednesday, January 23, 2002
(Article entitled, "Artist with an eye for nature dies at 89", by Isak Howell, staff writer
J. Vance Miller, American Impressionist. Brochure produced for The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art
Shae Avery, owner Avery Gallery, Marietta, Georgia
Vance Miller (1912-2002) was born in Princeton, WV, lived in VA, Baltimore, MD and Blacksburg, VA. His impressionist style gave attention to light, atmosphere and color, making choppy strokes with a palette knife. He painted scenes of nature for over 50 years, inspired by changing seasons of the Blue Ridge Mountains, painted on location, from memory and from sketches. He would often return to a favorite place to observe and paint the scene capturing the changing effects of light, shadows and reflections.
He began to paint full time at age 60. In later years Miller traveled and was inspired to paint Yosemite, the giant redwood forest, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Santa Fe, Taos, Rehoboth Beach and the Gulf at Madeira Beach, FL.