Artist Paints What She FeelsJanuary, 2020
By Sarah Sherman
Eunice Miller drove three million miles in a big rig truck. It was the “love of her life,” she says, now looking back at her 30-year career on the road, which began at a time when female truck drivers were few.
At 63, the longtime Epping resident has been retired since a bad accident in 2000 left her unsure of the next direction her life would take. She went through a period of adjustment until she took a $25 watercolor class at Exeter Adult Education with Russian artist Marina Forbes. That’s when her “resurgence,” as she calls it, began and “art started pouring out of me.”
She was an artistic child growing up in Billerica, Mass., surrounded by creative family members. Her mother was a cake decorator and her aunt a crafter, but she felt she just couldn’t compete with their skills, she said. So, instead, she raced cars to compete with her father.
“The arts were important,” Miller recalled of her childhood. “Community was important.”
At age 12, a mentor told her to never stop painting, but, of course, she did. The road was calling.
And then, many decades later, here was Forbes teaching her in private classes and telling her to “just keep painting.” This time she listened.
Now owner of Folsom Mill Studio, she’s tried her hand at plein air and other mediums, but watercolor is her favorite — and she doesn’t paint from photos, although photography is another creative outlet. Her photographic images center around macrophotography, landscapes and the birds around her — she’s also president of the Epping Garden Club and loves to spend summers barefoot in her organic garden.
“I paint what I feel and take photos of what I see,” she said. “There’s wet paper, I throw color on it, let it mix and mingle, and something is triggered inside of me, and I’m off to the races. … I love the challenges. I love the beauty.”
Eventually, she found her way into the Seacoast Artist Association gallery in Exeter, a place she felt she didn’t belong, asking herself, “Who do you think you are?” But a nice lady encouraged her to join and she entered a painting into one of their themed shows that was seeking artwork of the coast. It sold in two days.
“I had never been in a gallery — you can’t park a semi at the MFA,” she laughed.
She let 30 paintings go at her first art show, she recalls, a move as an inexperienced artist that she now regrets. She misses those paintings and will now often mark her work with an “NFS,” not for sale, when she shows it, preferring instead to use websites like Fine Art America, which enable customers to purchase prints and put her artwork on other products, rather than selling the originals.
“I pound the internet, not the pavement,” Miller said. “I also have an Etsy shop.”
Miller strives to hone her skills while also painting for a reason, like with her piece titled “Missing You” (bottom photo on opposite page), which she donated at a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association, along with 10 percent of the sales from giclee prints of the piece. Her work, “Winter Blues,” was selected to represent the month of December in the 2020 Artists of the Seacoast calendar, which is sold as a fundraiser to benefit Families First of Greater Seacoast Community Health (available for purchase at familiesfirstseacoast.org).
She teaches a watercolor class to children at the Epping library, where she promotes a judgment-free environment and offers reassurance that nothing in art is wrong. She encourages the kids in her classes to throw paint on the wet paper and “just play,” adding that there’s plenty of time to work when they’re grown up.
Miller continues to take classes to learn new techniques and improve her process, ever humble and eager to lend a helping hand to her fellow artists. It’s not the same as the trucking lifestyle she misses dearly, she says, but it has helped fill the hole. She is writing a memoir about her unique life after encouragement received at a free class on how to write your family story at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.
“I thought I’d be on the cover of Rolling Stone before this,” she joked of her artwork being selected for the cover of Fiddlehead. “It’s meditative for me. I sit with the wet paper and walk away liking it, knowing I enjoyed the moment.”
For more information, visit Folsom Hill Studio online at uni356.wixsite.com/folsom-mill-studio or follow the studio on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram.