Joplin’s Connie Miller Creates Children’s Painting Exhibit, ‘C is for Color’

It’s All Things Considered on KRPS; I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. On display now through the end of August at the Joplin Public Library’s Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery, Connie Miller’s ‘C is for Color’. The art exhibit for kids, it’s an extension of the nationwide ‘Tails and Tales’ summer reading program. (Piece aired on KRPS’s July 1, 2021 broadcast of All Things Considered)

Connie Miller’s ‘I’ll Stand By You’

Recently, I spoke with Connie inside of her home studio in Joplin. She started drawing at young age, on anything she could get her hands on.

“At that time, we would get, they didn’t have a lot of drawing tablets and things out then. But I would draw on anything I could get a hold of, or color on anything I could get a hold of. We would get meat packaged from the grocery store at that time and they would wrap it in wax paper, and then they would wrap it in big sheets of white people. And my Mom would carefully take that off and smooth that out and I drew on that. I can just remember doing a lot of that.”

Connie Miller

Drawing and mixing colors was in Connie’s blood early in life. She had an Uncle who worked for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City and did color testing. The result of decades of drawing and painting are large, blood and colorful paintings, many of which are void of any facial expressions allowing the viewer to decide. The influence of Connie’s Aunt and Uncle continue to loom large in her vision as a painter and drawer.

Connie Miller’s ‘Leo in the Lillies’

“They both encouraged me. Because they thought, I was really doing a lot of art. In fact, they bought me my first John Gnagy Learn to Draw Kit. John Gnagy is kind of like how Bob Ross is to painting. You know how to set up drawings and how to shade. Just general components of starting to draw. I’m not sure I was all that great at that time.”

Connie Miller

She was also only in the 3rd grade at the time. But her Aunt and Uncle laid the groundwork for a lifetime of love of creating art. Perhaps, unsurprisingly Connie spent the majority of her professional career as an educator, and taught art for 18 years. She combined that with a Master’s Degree in Guidance Counseling, and became a counselor for the next 15-years. In all, she taught for a total of 33 years. One is retired, Connie could they fully commit herself to her first love, drawing and painting.

“And I think, all that you do in life contributes to art. Cause doing all of the art counseling, and doing counseling and working that into it, I think there’s some, you can see some of that in my painting too. From the subjects I pick and choose, and some of the ways that I present them.”

Connie Miller
Connie Miller’s ‘The Hitchhiker’

Like all of Connie’s paintings, ‘C is for Color’ is big, bold and inviting. And all of the pictures are of birds and animals, drawn and colored in a way that would see in a paint by numbers book, but with rich detail. The sort of paintings that you can view and create a story around. Because of the bright and bold coloring of them, they leap out of the frame. Another interesting feature of the collection is that it is all hung at the eye level of children. Connie says she got the inspiration to add that feature from her own life.

“Actually, that just kind of happened accidentally, really, because I had proposed doing a show for children a couple of years ago to Jill that maybe we could hang on an eye level, because I’m short and everything is always hung really high for me. And I think about kids, can’t really look at stuff if it’s way up here. They have to turn their head way back to see it, so I talked to her about doing that. Then the animal part just kind of came together. Kids relate to animals, better. I do a lot of people, women and men. But kids don’t relate to that as well as animals, and I already had a lot of animal paintings already completed. It just kind of accidentally came together for both of us.”

Connie Miller
Connie Miller’s ‘The Fancy Chicken’

Joplin’s Connie Miller speaking about her exhibit ‘C is for Color’ now on display at the Joplin Public Libraries Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery until August 31. She can view additional pieces by Connie by visiting her Facebook page at Connie Miller Art. Her exhibit is a part of the ‘Tails and Tales’ summer reading program taking place at public libraries nationwide. For KRPS, I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro in Webb City

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