Sheila Miles


MILE 0022 Red Beauties

I have over 70,000 photos on my phone “in the Cloud”, saved from trips throughout the West.

My husband and I drive the “slow roads” from Arizona to Santa Fe, and Montana or to Idaho, California or Nevada and I hang out the window shooting things, usually at 70 miles an hour. 

I might shoot 3000 photos in a day and every day I go to my studio and discover the photo I want to paint.

When I paint, I want to make the ordinary extraordinary and depict beauty in the unnoticed and represent the ambience of a place and time that has. a special, memorable, or familiar iconic presence.  

The places trigger a common familiarity for the viewer providing solace and a place to sink in to. People frequently remark on my paintings, “I want to be in that place. I want to live there”.

Many of the places I paint are rural scenes that include abandoned buildings that have a long history. Some of the structures I paint are the buildings behind the buildings being used today. In the same way, my attraction is to a place forgotten and the triggering of a story or my imagination of “who lived there, how did they live, how did it end?”

I see evidence of years of patching or cobbling together the parts of the structures and in many cases, I see them as a testament to survival in harsh conditions. Their history is contained in surfaces and textures and the partially “erased” history of the pentimento of an earlier time.

I try to capture the beauty and a sense of time and place, focusing on light and shadow and the abstract qualities in the puzzling shapes that warp over a surface.  I use the colors and tones, along with bright contrasting whites and shadows created by the hot sun.

I was raised in Indiana bucket feeding calves in the backyard until they could go to my Grandparent’s farm and coming from a family of six children my main goal everyday was to get up and leave the house, wander through the woods, collect bugs and critters (anything I could capture.) I was in love with horses and drew them constantly. In Indiana you were considered an artist if you could paint barns, horses and cows.

I fit that criteria early on and along with my education and spending my life in places like Provincetown, Massachusetts (the first art colony in the US), New York City, Europe, then Montana and Santa Fe, I am still attracted to those subjects.

With 50 plus years as a dedicated painter I am still looking for complex and hidden compositions in the seemingly simplest of places.

They are about my way of seeing.

Sheila Miles has been a figurative painter for over 50 years, exhibited in over 300 exhibitions and 200 of her works is included in such public collections as the New Mexico Arts in Public Places, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Yellowstone Art Museum and Missoula Museum of the Arts.

Educated at Purdue University she earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Art in Painting and Drawing. In the summer of 1974 she received a full scholarship to the Hans Hofmann School of Art to study in a summer program with Victor Candell and Leo Manso in Provincetown, Massachusetts. After almost 5 years in Provincetown  she lived in NYC before living in Montana for 26 years.

Beginning in 1988 she was represented by Owings-Dewey (Santa Fe) and later by Linda Hodges (Seattle) and Reed-Stremmel Galleries (Reno) and for over 45 years has exhibited widely throughout the country and internationally.

Her work has been purchased twice by the State of New Mexico for the Artist in Public Places Program and she was recently selected for the $35,000-$125,000 Large Scale Purchases. She was also a San Francisco Public West Coast Artist for the Public Arts Projects and in 1999 she received the Gottlieb Foundation grant ($20,000).

In addition to her art career she was Director of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (1974-1977), Senior Curator at the Yellowstone Art Museum (1986-1990), Adjunct Instructor at MSU (Billings), MSU (Bozeman) and UMT (Missoula) and for over 25 years as a Montana Arts Council Roster Artist. She was also a full-time resident artist for the Montana Arts Council in Miles City, MT (1983-1984) and a past panel member and MAP Artist.

After a vibrant career in Montana for over 27 years, Miles lived in Santa Fe for 15 years  until moving to Oracle, AZ in 2020.

She has gallery representation by Art Spirit Gallery, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and Hat Ranch Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.

 In addition to her prolific art career she is also a consultant and workshop instructor (nationally and internationally).

Since 2015 she has had 4 Museum exhibitions and in 2023 she will have a major one person exhibition at the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana.