John S. Miller/ Thoughts and Ideas / Waterworks

Reflections on Water, One Color screen Print, 2015
Reflections on Water,15.5" X 21.15", One Color screen Print, 2015
Near Shore II, 4 color screen print, 21.5 X 16.25, 2014
Near Shore II, 4 color screen print, 21.5" X 16.25", 2014
Near Shore, 4 color screen print, 21.5 X 16.25, 2014
Near Shore, 4 color screen print, 21.5" X 16.25", 2014
Slanted, 4 color screen print, 21.5 X 16.25, 2014
Slanted, 4 color screen print, 21.5" X 16.25", 2014
Across the Cove, 4 color screen print, 21.5 X 16.25, 2014
Across the Cove, 4 color screen print, 21.5" X 16.25", 2014
Bird Forms, 4 color screen print, 21.5 X 16.25, 2014
Bird Forms, 4 color screen print, 21.5" X 16.25", 2014
Ripples, 4 color screen print, 21.5 X 16.25, 2014
Ripples, 4 color screen print, 21.5" X 16.25", 2014
Moving Foam
Moving Foam, Screen print, 5" x 5", 2018
Gentle breeze
Gentle Breeze, Screen print, 5" x 5", 2018
City Lights
City Lights, Screen print, 5" x 5", 2018?
Evening Breeze
Evening Breeze, Screen print, 5" x 5", 2018
Fractured, Two color screen print, 7 X 9, 2014
Fractured, Two color screen print, 7" X 9", 2014
The Rushes, 12 X 12, 5 color Screen Print, 2015
The Rushes, 12 X 12, 5 color Screen Print, 2015
Mendota Breaker, 15 X 15 , 5 Color Screen Print, 2015
Mendota Breaker, 15" X 15" , 5 Color Screen Print, 2015
The Spillway, 2015, Screen print
The Spillway, 2015, Screen print, 15" W x 15.25" T
Gentle Breeze, 14 X 12, Screen Print, 2016
Gentle Breeze, 14.5" X 12.125", Screen Print, 2016

My art is the result of my efforts to understand the world I move through. I can’t help but look around, ponder, question, and try to understand what I’m seeing. As I question I seek answers through art in part because I learn so much as a result of trying to rebuild the things I see using the "language" of art. Making art is a way of thinking for me.

paper sculpted wave

Click the Image
to see more about my
Wave projects

Art is essentially reductive. No artist can share their exact reality. They share some representation of experience using the limited creative tools at their disposal. Their work is a new reality and in my case I try to link this with my understanding of the world. My work is another way of thinking about what I'm seeing, a shorthand, a simplified model. The artistic process is partly editing but it’s also the result of unique human limitations and these limitations often translate into style. In the process of reducing complex information to simpler forms, I often feel that I can reveal essential truths, express them, and understand them better. For me, art is a language and the basic letter forms are lines and shapes and color. The toolset is limited but the creative and expressive possibilities for visual language are vast. Reducing visual information to graphic shapes is "chunking", an information packaging process essential to our survival

My Waterworks are my effort to read water and derive my own visual language for suggesting and describing the nature of water at any given moment within an existent set of circumstances. Circumstances vary by temperature, wind speed and direction, as well as the shape of the vessel holding the water or the shape of the channel guiding it as it descends. As a paddler, I have spent countless hours reading water and at times my life has depended on my understanding. The water surface tells us about the wind, the light, the color of the depths, and the nature of the vessel. The surface of water is the interface with everything it touches and everything that touches it.

I've been fascinated by water since early childhood. This began with my first trips to Lake Superior visiting my grandparents in Ironwood Michigan. We'd go out to Little Girl's Point to picnic or camp and to swim and play on the pebble beach. I have many memories from that introduction to big water and these include staring for hours out over the immense cold clear expanse watching waves, mesmerized by the ever changing surface.

The series of images I show here began during my artist in residency on Isle Royale National Park. I was obsessed with understanding water and realized as I observed and sketched that a short hand record was my best way to capture the energy, motion and surface dynamics. I began developing a graphic format for representing water, a visual vocabulary.

Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Sketchbook, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Sketchbook, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Sketchbook, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency
Water Sketches
Sketchbook sample, Isle Royale Artist in Residency

We're approximately 65% water give or take a small percentage. We don't simply store water however, we aren't containers in that sense. Water has to flow through us so we have an upstream and a downstream side. You can think of us as moveable pools connected to our local watershed. Life on this planet as we know it depends upon water in much the same way and all life is connected as part of a larger river of life through which water flows.

As a paddler my ability to read water has been both critical to my survival and opened up amazing opportunities for play. Water informs through the shapes that become visible upon the activated surface. In this project I focus on both the esthetics and meaning revealed by water. When one understands a subject, all affects are also information. My art is driven by my quest to better understand this world.