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Changing Styles: The Big Re-brand

By Jordan Miller on July 1, 2019

Re-branding one’s self as an artist is as hard as re-branding any business. I’ve been on mission to make sure that no two shows look too similar, creating new works in new styles. This shows my evolution as an artist and it also keeps viewers interested in ‘what’s next’. From one show to the next its still important to maintain identifying marks that this is still ‘you’ and not another artist. I create in too many styles and I know this well.

If this is the first blog you’ve read about my consulting career or my artist career, you may not be aware of how much my style has changed over the years and you may not realize the real reasons why my style changed from one to the next! If you don’t want to read the history by years then please fill free to skip to the bottom on where I’m going in 2019 to 2020.

I added photos in above each section so you can see how the styles evolved. To see more please view my sold section here. Note that my sold section is not in any order. One day i’ll fix that….!

Here is a bit of history…

In 2002 I graduated from my Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) program from the University of Manitoba where I double majored in drawing and painting. I finished my studies off creating in mixed media. During that time I created works about living with illness.

Jordan Miller, Guns and Boxing Gloves, 2003 (low quality photo but you get the idea!)

In 2003 to 2006 I created paintings with abstract figures. My style then was very different than today. Lots of drips and a darker pallette as well as thematically a bit dark. I was trying to figure out what I wanted in my life: relationships, employment, and other life aspects. Other than deciding on education in 1997 post high school, i’d say this was the biggest decision making time in my life. I was also in a dead end job to recover my school debt. Collaboratively with other artists started 5 on Third Gallery and founded Outworks gallery.In 2003 after a studio flood, I threw everything i had made that hadn’t sold into a dumpster. We had a massive studio flood and my works were damaged by rusty water. It was a sign from the universe! It was around this time that I met my first serious collectors of my works.

Late 2006 to 2010 while building cre8ery, i stopped producing art as my (now ex) partner and I developed the business. 2009 to 2010, I created 364 12×12″ and 6×6” works of art. My goal of launching my first exhibition since in 2006 at cre8ery. It was not a piece per day however it was the only way I could work on art every single day. I worked at home, at the studio, and even travelled to Korea with some of them to make sure I stuck to my goal. Most were collage, image transfer, ink and pouring medium, and mixed media. This show was my most successful exhibition to date. Hundreds of people came to my reception, almost half of the pieces sold. The Winnipeg Free Press also featured me on a full page with a large photo of me looking through the piece. I considered this a time of experimentation. I began teaching classes in new mediums. I also began speaking publicly about my career as an artist and gallery owner. I was hired to speak at seminars and conferences. I also had a huge life change and left my partner of almost 6 years immediately following my exhibition. Life became hard as i rebuilt myself to be confident to be on my own. Now I realize how much i learned about my own art and my own life at that time.

Finding Home, 2012, Acrylic and Image Transfer (Owned by the Province of Manitoba)

2011. I became honoured as a Woman of Distinction in the arts. I began working on my exhibition “Finding Home; Searching Self” for the Piano Noble Gallery located at the Centennial Concert Hall. My work changed again to be thicker with heavy acrylic body and texture. My drips were much more intentional as an artist told me that I needed to make every drip controlled. I thought that was good advice. Brush strokes were thick and full of bright and brilliant colour mixed in with darkness. I started to image transfer my drawings and floor plans over top of the paint. I was using a bit of embroidery to show my journey. Pieces featured connected me to home and some stories of what you’d find when you really looked deep into my heart. I was struggling in different ways. I bought my first home. I was in a new relationship. The stories about that time are not only mine to tell so I will leave you wondering. The following year, the Province of Manitoba purchased “Finding Home” a year after the exhibition. That was the next feather in my cap as an artist. I felt like I had ‘made it’ as an artist

Acrylic, Resin, Plexiglass, 2015
Acrylic, Palette Knife Application, 2015
Fibre Gel Paste, Acrylic, Thrown acrylic :), 2015
Layered Acrylic Monoprints, 2015
Acrylic Ink + Soft Body Acrylics, 2015
Finding the Calm, Acrylic and Embroidery, 2014 (100 hours!)

2013-2015 I branched off to image transferring my own drawings and more elaborate mixed media works. I used string gel medium to draw swirls. I experimented with ink on canvas. I threw paint and I did a lot of over glazes of colour and wet on wet acrylic painting with using a brush and dripping and pooling ink. I was using a palette regularly. In 2014 i taught myself how to make a gelli-plate and used it to create monoprints. I had an incredible amount of fun ‘playing’ and this became a heavy time to reinvent myself through experimentation. It was also at this time that I spent 100 hours stitching a piece of art which sold in 2017. Priced at $3,300 (framed) it was my most expensive piece sold at the time of writing this blog.

layered monoprints collaged onto canvas, 2016
left handed painting, acrylic, 2016
Acrylic pouring medium, 2016
alcohol ink on yupo, 2016
Acrylic pouring medium, 2017 (one of the last created)

Early February, 2016 I injured my wrist very seriously. I was in 5 group exhibitions that year and managed to produce new works. There was a huge shift in my work. It was at this time that I worked mostly on monoprints, collaging pieces together that were produced prior to my injury, painted with my left hand, and in mid started to use pouring medium much more consistently. I had applied in 2015 for my exhibition at Gallery in the Park, Altona and wanted to blow people out of the water with new works. I began with pouring medium as i could do that with my left hand. I began to work in alcohol ink. I didn’t know anyone working in these mediums, other than those i had taught pouring medium to, so it seemed like the best time for me to develop and become more proficient in this skill. By the launch of my exhibition a viral video spread across the internet of a dirty cup pour. The world of artists began painting in the only mediums i could work in as my hand was swollen for almost two years. Being person living with diabetes my healing time is much slower and still in 2019 my arm still requires physio. It was time to start building more strength back in my arm. My last pouring medium piece was produced in August 2017 (other than a commission was agreed on for early 2018). It was time to re-brand myself and walk away from pouring medium. People I had taught were starting to teach the class as well.

72″ x 36″ Large Acrylic Painting, 2018
Monoprint on paper, mounted on canvas, 2018
Alcohol Ink and Ink on Yupo, 2018

2018 to 2019…I took a step towards creating large works on large canvases, something i haven’t been able to do since my injury. I began with only being able to paint 30 minutes to an hour at a time and i was able to produce more simplistic large paintings. It was challenging to try to get back to where I was as an artist before my injury. At this time i began developing more layers in both my alcohol inks and my monoprints.

2019 acrylic painting (sold)
Monoprint and ink on paper, 2019

In late 2018 to early 2019 i decided that it was time to get back into ‘detail work’ now that i felt my arm was stronger. Unfortunately due to a few stressful situations in my personal life, I was set back a little bit in early 2019 when my arm became numb from my shoulder blade to my finger tips only in my right arm. I was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I’ve been through a lot of physio at this point and I should do some more; however, i am running out of time for my upcoming exhibition. I was also fortunate enough to purchase my first ever insulin pump which has improved my quality of life and my focus. This year, Instead of creating monoprints and then adding a small amount of embroidery, I’ve simplified the monoprints to show more ‘negative space’. I began to outline the forms that were created through the printing process. I’ve sold a few of them so far despite needing them for my upcoming exhibition, however, I also need to keep selling in order to keep creating! I feel that these are a huge step towards changing my known style of art to something different and unique. I have began adding lines and dots to my alcohol ink work and working much larger than i have before. My largest pre 2019 was 11×14. I’m now creating up to 30×40” alcohol ink pieces. I’m also beginning to paint like I used to with a much wider colour range (less primaries) and I’m back to creating more intuitively. I’ve been trying to remove ‘the story’ from the work and let the imagination fly so that others who view the work will be able to create their own story. I see what I see and I’ve titled the work appropriately to indicate what I feel it is to me. This will give the viewer a clue if they choose to think about it. I’ll post images for my upcoming show once its open to the public.

I am currently clearing out all of my pouring medium pieces at (mostly) up to 30% off. I have moved on stylistically to remove this from my brand as it became far too trendy. I’m not much of a trend setter or a trend follower. I created them at a time where it was all I could do to keep going as an artist. This doesn’t mean that the work is bad or unwelcome in my collection of available pieces. What it means is that its time to make room in my studio for new works and to find new homes for them. I’m sure someone will enjoy having them just as much as i enjoyed painting them. This chapter in my book is closed.

Back to re-branding? In the back of my mind I want to be the artist who creates only one style of work to create a strong ‘body’ of work. Instead I am currently creating strong bodies of work. Is that a bad thing? No. I always have people tell me they don’t have to look at the label to know its me. I enjoy switching up my styles as it help me stay focused when i need a break and it keeps the work fresh from one piece to the next. I have an easy time ‘starting’, more difficult time ‘finishing’.

This show for 2019 is more consistent than my show in 2018. There is are multiples series “To Simplify”, “To Build” and a combo of “To Build and Simplify”. I can’t explain it fully here but you will understand what I mean when you see it. What does the future JordanLMillerArtist brand hold? The one aspect that I will work on for my 2020 show is that I want the room to look like there weren’t four or five artists painting a group show. This is my plan for my 40s. I turn 40 on August 23rd…It’ll be too late for my upcoming show in Portage La Prairie as I’ll only be a month into 40 when the set up day begins. Its time for me to make some changes. Although I’ve been changing all along, I’m really going to try to focus on a few things.

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