When an artist invites you into their workspace, they’re really inviting you into the creative process, too. The intimacy and details of an artist’s own space is sacred—and sharing that space with others is a gracious, illuminating experience. This October, you’ll have your chance for just that as the Washington County Art Alliance presents the annual Washington County Open Studios Tour (October 20-21). The event celebrates the artists of Tualatin Valley with a tour of studios throughout the region. Spend an afternoon going from studio to studio, learning about the artistic process, buying one-of-a-kind pieces, and discovering your own creative side.
We caught up with one of the participating artists, Emily Miller of Forest Grove, for a Q&A. The Painter and sculptor shares more about the event, her creative process, and what makes Tualatin Valley’s art community unique.
Q & A with Artists Emily Miller
What is your artistic background?
I fell in love with watercolor 25 years ago as a child in California, built a career on Kauai as a painter, and I now specialize in painting the beauty of our local Oregon landscapes. I am a lifelong artist with a passion for materials: I also create colorful abstract landscapes in encaustic wax; tactile ocean-inspired pottery; glass and metal sculpture, fiber arts, and more. So far I haven’t met a medium I didn’t like!
What does being an artist mean to you?
Being an artist means seeing exceptional details in the every day, and having a passion for creating work that shares insight into our connections and our differences.
What themes do you explore with your art?
I have spent my life on the coast, and all my artwork has its roots in my love of the sea. My work explores natural beauty and cycles of change centered around coastal environments, where our human connection to nature becomes clear. I see the coast as a border between the known and the unknown, and I am fascinated with what lies beyond this dividing line.
My work also focuses on conservation issues, using recycled materials or ecology themes to explore how we can care for the places we love. Some of my recent conservation-based projects include the 100 Turtles ceramics project, Ghost Net Baskets made with reclaimed fishing rope, and a 4 ft wide acrylic painting contributing to the stewardship of our changing Pacific coastline.
How would you describe the Tualatin Valley arts community?
I think Washington County artists feel a strong sense of place. We are proud of our local landscapes and our community.
What are you most looking forward to with the Washington County Open Studios Tour?
I’m looking forward to doing demonstrations of my ceramics and watercolor techniques with visitors. It’s always wonderful to have an opportunity to share my process. I’m also looking forward to hearing the stories that viewers often share, inspired by their experiences of the local landscapes I paint.
I am sharing a studio for this year’s tour with two other talented artists, Nanette Tsatsaronis and Marie- Hélène Rake. I look forward to being inspired by their work all weekend!
What are your favorite locations (restaurants, hikes, etc.) in Washington County?
I love being out in nature, hiking at Hagg Lake, and exploring local vineyards and farmland with my plein air painting gear through the different seasons.
Join Emily and over 50 other artists for the Washington County Open Studios Tour.