Friday, December 31, 2010


Tuscan by Robert Miller

For me 2010 was dominated by a single theme...Italy. Compressed between months of planning and months of creating art work was the wonderful month of May in Bologna, Italy. It was an experience I never imagined would happen. Oh, I thought about a trip like this from time to time, but always dismissed it as unrealistic and unaffordable until Patience, in all of her wisdom, told me there was no reason why I couldn’t do it and that I should do it. That was all it took. Now, to be truthful, I had been talking about 2 weeks at an artists retreat and not a month on my own in a small apartment which is what it eventually evolved into.

Your have undoubtedly heard enough from me about my experiences and have seen the countless photos and paintings I’ve been posting on facebook, on my blog, and in these letters. They were the obvious and highly visible results of such a journey, easy to share. Some of what I have “learned” from the experience is less obvious and not as easy to describe...but I would like to try, and it has to do with age.

I celebrated my 71st birthday in Ferrara with the Rigosi family. For more than a year I had been struggling with being 70 years old, not so much from a physical stand point, although there have certainly been some changes, but more from an emotional and psychological one. The endless “some days” were no longer there, and for the first time I became acutely aware of the limitations I faced regarding future endeavors. In retrospect, most disabling and damaging to my spirits was the the tendency to judge and evaluate everything I did or was planning to do within the context of my age. I no longer simply imagined myself doing something, creating, traveling, or whatever; instead it was a 70 year old man doing or attempting to do these things, as if being 70 made me different. I also found myself wondering what others thought, or would think, about me, my work, and my age.

I recognized the foolishness of this kind of thinking knowing it was demoralizing as well as irrational and tried, with only limited success, to avoid it as I was preparing for my trip. To my great delight, once I arrived and settled into my apartment in Bologna, all such thoughts about my age vanished...well...maybe they surfaced while I was walking up the long hillside to San Luca, or the next day when I climbed the 500 steps in the Torre Asinelli, but only then. I don’t know if it was navigating an unfamiliar environment, managing the solitude, or something else entirely, but at some point during the second half of that trip I realized that I ceased thinking about my age; it no longer was a factor in terms of what I could or could not do. And it has remained that way ever since.

So, where shall I go to deal with 80?

Thursday, December 30, 2010



Shame is what I feel right now I am ashamed of our country. For 8 years our soldiers have been killed and maimed serving us in war and we have had to contribute NOTHING.
Our government, right and left, has not had the balls to ask us to pay for this war. Instead the only people suffering and making sacrifices are the soldiers and their families.

I cannot imagine that most Americans would not be willing to pay a “war tax” to do their part and share the burdens of these years of combat. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the conflict...all that matters is that fellow Americans are bearing the full brunt of the war, with no help from the rest of us.

Those yellow “support our troops” ribbons aren’t worth shit! We should ALL be taxed to pay for this war and for the incredible help our soldiers need.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


there was pencil, pen, and ink. In my year end browsing through old portfolios and files I've found these old drawings, done before I began exploring color, first with markers and later with watercolor.

tree done with sepia pen

pen, brush, and ink.

pen and ink

pencil drawing...9th St. Market in Philly

I enjoy looking back on old work, seeing how my art has evolved. There are things I can do now that were not possible in those early years, but there was a freedom and freshness then that is easily lost in the more elaborate studio paintings. It was fun to see some of this recaptured in the clay drawings from the Italian experience.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


is something I've done...not just once or twice, but three times. Sadly I can only document two, so you will have to take my word for the third one. I could not resist their delicate, transparent petals and their quiet luminescent colors.

I've probably done about 6-7 floral paintings, all in watercolor, and I enjoyed doing everyone. I don't know why I've not done more.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Working my way to the end of the year by completing several commissions . Two down and a third that should be finished in the next few days. After that....I have no idea what follows. I think I'll just let it happen.

the mountain village of Prezza in central Italy...watercolor...18x26

A view in the Piazza Maggiore...mixed media...aprox. 16x28

Monday, December 20, 2010


I like Christmas. I enjoy the spirit of goodwill and anticipation that it brings to us individually and as a community, as well as the frantic reaching out to others as we struggle to prepare for the big day. It is a celebration that has become so large that it can hold different meanings for so many people, far beyond its celebration of the birth of Christ. It is a holiday that evolves for us over the years as our families evolve and young children become young adults and have families of their own. It transcends time and distance, but never completely.

For me, Christmas is becoming mostly a time for remembering, a time to recall young children, parents, and my extended family and friends. It is a mixture of sweetness and sadness, a time I cherish because I have so much to remember. Life has been very good to me.

This year there will be no family joining us, and Patience will be working Christmas and the day after. But we will not be alone (that is not possible in Lowertown), if all goes well Lindy Loo will provide us with 4 newly born puppies to care for. I look forward to that, and I look forward to sitting quietly listening to Christmas music and thinking about all of the Christmas eves and Christmas days I spent with my parents and my family. I will remember just how rich my life has been. I will think about my dear friends who have given so much to me over the years, especially in my times of need. I will remember the love that I have received, and I will remember the loved ones I’ve lost. And somewhere in the course of all this remembering there will be time for a glass of wine and dish of pasta. How could I ask for anything more?

My sincere thanks and best wishes to everyone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


best describes my activity in the studio over the past few weeks. I've completed several commissions and even returned to the clay drawing. I'm still working on the review and cataloging of the pics of old work, may even get a few photo books out of all of this when I'm done.

Here are the latest 2 clay drawings, both of Paducah landmarks:

Familiar digs on Market Square...clay drawing

Grace Episcopal Church on Broadway...clay drawing

And, from the repository of old works, I have these to show, both from the early '80s.

Cape May Pink...watercolor

Cape May Blue...watercolor

Friday, December 10, 2010


is always with us, and the future is not far behind. Or so it seems. Whatever...I'm still looking back, hoping the view will provide some insight into the future.

Having completed the digital cataloging of all of my watercolors, I've turned my attention to the pastels. It was somewhat of a surprise to see just how many pastel paintings I had done in the last 10 years, most of them between 1998 and 2005. I eventually cut back on the pastels and watercolors because of the expense of framing, but after looking at all the slides and photos I find myself thinking...hmmmmm....maybe I should do just a few more...?

I'm almost finished with the pastels, and the next task will be to look at that vast hodgepodge of work (clay, mixed media, etc.) I did during my first few years in Paducah.

Is this...will me? Don't know, but it sure is a lot of fun. Here is a sampling of some of the pastels from the past:

NYC skyline 30x40

West KY Landscape 20x30

someones memory 20x30

Jersey Barn 30x40

Clouds 30x20

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


For the past several weeks I've been coasting on past efforts, limiting my work to several commissions on the drawing boards. I've completed one and 2 more are in progress, but for the most part I've been in a "vacation" state of mind, albeit a vacation in the studio.

How am I spending this vacation? I've decided to review and catalog my slide inventory of paintings, old and new, and create a comprehensive digital library of the work. It is a slow process but one I'm finding quite enjoyable. Many of the slides had been previously scanned, but in need of some photoshop corrections due to the poor quality of some of the slides (taken in the late 70's and 80's). Because I kept a careful record of all my work in a small notebook I've been able to label the work chronologically. Sadly, a computer crash about 5 years ago took away much of my digital inventory records for a number of years...should have stuck with the pen and paper!

So far I've worked my way through the 70's and 80's which consisted almost entirely of watercolors. Next up, the 90's when I began to work with clay and pastels as well as watercolor. In addition to the new mediums, my focus also began shifting from urban to rural landscapes, barns and farms began to replace storefronts and skylines.

Here are a few images of my earliest work:

Jim's Steaks on South St. watercolor and ink...1981

Old Philadelphia from photo...watercolor...1980
Rocco's in Wilmington DE...watercolor and markers...1978

Refuge Temple in Wilmington...watercolor...1979