Hello and welcome to my blog. What I'm doing here is documenting my personal expression of "hands-on history" from a craftsman's perspective. I've been on this path for a large part of my life and it's taken me to some interesting and challenging places. I hope to share the processes and the historically inspired objects I've crafted along this journey into our past. This adventure has deepened my appreciation for past craftsmanship and the intelligence of common place things in Early America. Besides, now I have all this cool stuff to play (teach) with.

Jim Miller

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Devoted Dabbler Dusts Off His Artist's Hat for the County Fair

     Even though I was trained as an illustrator back in the 70's, I try not to take myself "too" seriously as an artist. That background has helped me in many creative endeavors but I never really pursued a career in art. Once in awhile though, it's fun to throw my work out there and see if it gets a response.

 Me and My Work at the 2008 Columbia Art Show
Photo Courtesy Kim Kyhl

     Back in 2008, I decided to take a chance with something I'd never done and signed up to show some of my drawings at the Columbia Fine Arts Show. It's an annual event held every September on the streets of Columbia State Historic Park. One of my favorite mediums is pencil on paper and for the show I produced a number of sketches with Gold Rush themes. Go figure!  For a novel approach to display, I pretended to be an itinerant artist of the period (there were many) and pinned my unframed sketches to the side of my historic wedge tent. It sort of worked, as long as the wind didn't blow. I sold some drawings to friends, met some interesting people and all in all had a good time.

My Sketch of a Nisenan Man
From a 6th Plate Daguerreotype
in the Collection of the Southwest Museum
Photos by Lindy Miller 2011
     Recently, I thought it might be fun to enter some of my work in the Tuolumne County Fair. My friends Floyd and Danette Oydegaard were kind enough to let me borrow two drawings, one of which they had purchased from me back in '08. I still had a portrait of a Chilean sailor I had done for the Columbia Show and decided to enter the three drawings in the Fair's Fine Arts category. I was pleasantly surprised to win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in my Division and Best in the Division with my portrait of a Native Californian. I've promised that I won't let any of this "Big Fish in a Little Pond" stuff go to my head but it's fun when people like what you've created and I hope that includes the readers of my blog.

On the Left is My Portrait of Josephine Spier, Columbia Pioneer
From a Carte de Visite in the Collection of
Columbia State Historic Park
Lastly is My Sketch of a Chilean Sailor
From a 9th Plate Daguerreotype
in the Collection of Stanley B. Burns, M.D.