Darien folk artist Nobu Miki working on a sunflower landscape in her Darien studio. — Sandra Diamond Fox photo
Another recent painting Miki has created is called “Dream.” When painting it, “I imagined how the human brain would look like when people have a nighttime dream,” she said.
Fans of Miki’s art can see Spring and Dream, as well as many other paintings of hers, at the Gratia Gillespie Art Gallery at Atria Darien, 50 Ledge Road, through the end of the month.
Along with her own artwork, the exhibit also features the work of students in Miki’s acrylic painting class at the Darien Senior Center.
Miki, who is originally from Tokyo, Japan, is a self-taught artist who paints with acrylic and oil. She moved to the United States in 1994 and to Darien in 2003.
She has painted many Darien and New Canaan landmarks.
Darien landmarks include Palmer’s Market, Ring’s End Bridge and the Good Wives Shopping Center, as well the Darien Historical Society, Darien High School, Pear Tree Point Beach, Weed Beach, and Tilley Pond Park.
She has also drawn covers of Darien Parks and Recreation Department and Chamber of Commerce brochures, and paints portraits.
Miki paints inside her home studio with her two-year-old chocolate Labradoodle Freddie Picasso sitting on the couch near her. “He’s my muse,” she said.
Miki teaches acrylic painting every Monday at the Darien Senior (Mather) Center.
“They are so passionate,” she said of the seniors she works with, adding that she enjoys this job very much.
Miki calls herself “adviser” rather than “teacher” because, unlike a class for younger people, “the seniors know the subject they like, what kind of paintings they like and which colors they like, so I really don’t teach them. I try to grow their own ability.”
Seniors are not experimenting with all different types of subject matter as younger people typically do, according to Miki.
“The seniors already know themselves,” she said. “They have their own style. They know their subjects.”
She likes using a lot of color in her paintings because it’s “happy, cheerful, and uplifting,” she said.
“I told my students that people have survived a long, tough winter so we should bring a happy spring and summer feeling to their paintings,” she added.
Grove Street Plaza art show
For the past five years, Miki has organized the Grove Street Plaza art show in Darien. It’s held every September outside at the plaza.
The show, which runs all day, features local painters, photographers and ceramicists, plus live chamber music.
“I organize artists in Fairfield County,” Miki said. “Twenty artists set up easels and tables outside.”
According to Miki, Darien had many annual art shows in past years, and then they “disappeared one by one,” she said, until there were none left.
She said she hopes other people will be inspired by her event and organize more art shows in town.
“People can come to Grove Street to stroll around and communicate with the artists. They could learn about the work and ask questions and artists can communicate with each other,” Miki said. “It’s a nice community event.”
When Miki paints dogs, rather than just painting the dog’s face as other artists may do, she likes to capture the entire dog and what the dog is doing in his or her life.
“I like to capture the dog’s life and not just his face,”she said. “I think this is a very different direction from most dog artists and it’s really fun for me.”
Paying it forward
Miki said she has the town of Darien to thank for her success as an artist.
“I really want to thank this community,” she said. “I never thought I would be an artist in a foreign country.”
The town of Darien has made her “grow” as an artist, she added. “I do appreciate my fans and community that have supported my works. “I started the Grove Street Plaza event to give back to Darien because Darien residents have supported me so much.”
She said she wants Darien “to be a more artful place that it used to be. I want to establish the event as a tradition so that it would stay no matter wherever I go in future. I want to help the Darien art community.”
Miki said she would like to try a different style of art.
“I would switch from fast drying acrylic to slow drying oil to enjoy the process of painting and paint more abstract using my signature happy colors,” she said.
“Of course, I will continue to paint Darien,” she added.
Miki’s art will next be featured at the Carriage Barn Art Center’s Art for Animals exhibit in New Canaan from June 2 to 14, and at Artists at Grove Street Plaza on Sept 21.
For more information, or to contact Miki, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To view Miki’s artwork, visit artbynobu.com/.