Evolution of an Artist

Photo by Mia Ulmer of Birchtree Studio

Photo by Mia Ulmer of Birchtree Studio

Change. Although it initially makes me uneasy, I've come to believe it leads me down a richer, more authentic path.   

Early in 2015 change came by way of a pink slip from a dependable but soul-deadening job. Although I never expected to be escorted from my office toting a box of belongings, the long walk to my car provided a shift in perspective. A small voice whispered, "This could be the start of something so much better." 

Not knowing what I'd do next frightened me. At the same time I also felt strangely relieved. I had enjoyed my colleagues, just not the work.  

How ironic that just a year before I'd been frightened by a project that aligned with my true nature--illustrating a children's book. Now that project and any fear I felt brought me tears of joy. Ahhhh.   

I had been working hard (and loving) the project, yet candidly never felt like the fun I was having was work. Now it was my only work. Would the joy end? Thankfully the joy continued.  

Once Willa's Journey Home was published I began listening to my soul sing, "I just want to make art. I just want to make art."  

Over the following months I spent more time sketching and painting joyfully than pouring over job search sites. My beagle-mix, who sniffs as much as she walks, encouraged me to attend to the trees and wildlife on our walks, snapping pictures for later reference. 

That's where I find myself now. Changed. Sketching and painting daily. Planning my next publications. Showing my original work in local art shows. Doing commission work. Selling my art as prints and greeting cards.

The only pink slips in my life are brush strokes across canvas. Every day I honor the creative spirit that flows through me. Around me. From me to you. Together.

What's Your Purpose? 

In mid-life I'm utterly grateful to feel fully at home and alive in my skin. My years as a career advisor taught me that this experience is much too rare.   

Parker Palmer writes about Way closing when we force choices that are not in line with our authentic selves. Doors of opportunity will close, one after another to show us that our true path lies elsewhere. I now see the surprise pink slip as a door that needed to close so that I'd make time for art. 

I believe that everyone is meant to live an authentic life, and doing so can only bring goodness to those around us and to our environment. I think one way to help us live authentically is by responding honestly and courageously to both the open doors and those that close. For they are both our teachers if we are willing to learn.  

I make art to make sense of what I've experienced. Making art brings me more joy and a sense of peace than any other pursuit. At times I feel as though I am not the one creating at all, just a conduit for a larger, more powerful force that moves through me. Those times are rare and wonderfully welcome

For more than 25 years I've been an educator, first with children, then those seeking a new career, and now helping others find their path. Over that time I've grown to believe our purpose in life is simple:

  • Honor our true selves
  • Hone our unique gifts and support the gifts of others
  • Share those gifts for the Greater Good.

Go. Do. Be (your true self).


Home's a Choice (c) Jane Miles 2014

Home's a Choice (c) Jane Miles 2014

Heart Garden (c) Jane Miles 2016

Heart Garden (c) Jane Miles 2016

Arranging birds during digitization process for  Willa's Journey Home , photo by Jake Simon

Arranging birds during digitization process for Willa's Journey Home, photo by Jake Simon

Artist's Process

Jane blends an introvert's keen vision, boundless imagination and passion for human development to create art rich with color, movement and emotion. 
Jane's mixed media works combine mono print paper (made with a polymer printing plate) with a variety of paints, inks and texture tools to create depth that draws the viewer in. She used this process to illustrate Willa's Journey Home in 2014, available locally at The Novel Neighbor (http://thenovelneighbor.com/) and through the illustrator.
Jane's style is evolving as she continues to experiment with new mediums and tools although abstract painting and mono print paper collage remain favorites. Her recent  paper collages feature doorway or arch imagery.  Jane's paintings often explore themes such as growth and connection.