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Barse Miller (1904 - 1973)
California Watercolor
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Barse Miller, N.A. (1904-1973)

Born: New York City, NY

Studied: National Academy of Design (New York), Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Member: National Academy of Design, American Watercolor Society, California Water Color Society, Philadelphia Water Color Club.

Barse Miller began formal art instruction at the National Academy of Design while still in elementary school. There he received instruction from Henry Snell. A few years later, he continued his education with Hugh Breckenridge at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Both of these teachers were award winning watercolorists. At eighteen years of age Barse Miller was awarded the Cresson Traveling Scholarship which enabled him to study and paint in Europe for two years. In 1924, he moved to Los Angeles and settled.

The next year Miller began exhibiting with the California Art Club and by 1928, was an active member of the California Water Color Society, serving as its president in 1936, 1937, and 1938. Barse Miller's watercolors from this era were quite different than most works being produced on the West Coast. They often included cityscape subjects with people, automobiles and industrial objects. As the new era of California watercolorists, led by Millard Sheets and Phil Dike, emerged in the early 1930s, they welcomed Miller into the movement and revered him as one of the leading figures.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Barse's watercolors became increasingly popular. His ability to manipulate wetinto-wet washes had a huge impact on many of his students and fellow artists. His many years of formal art instruction gave him a superior knowledge of color and design and when the California Group was being scrutinized in the 1930s, his work helped greatly to give the overall movement credibility.

During World War 11, Miller went into the United States Army and became head of the Combat Art Section in the South Pacific. He produced a number of outstanding watercolors and was awarded for his artistic contributions that visually documented the war in that region. After the war, Miller received a Guggenheim Fellowship and eventually settled in New York State. Barse's watercolors after this period became increasingly modern, as he sought to relate to a changing art world.

During his period in California, Barse Miller taught at the Chouinard Art Institute and, for ten years, at the Art Center School. As a teacher of watercolor painting, he was extremely influential and helped many of the most successful California watercolorists to understand the possibilities of this unique medium. In later years, Miller also made special visits to the West Coast to teach at the Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting and other watercolor workshops. In addition to watercolor painting, he also exhibited oil paintings and produced a number of murals.

Barse Miller biography posted with permission of “California Watercolors 1850-1970” by Gordon T. McClelland and Jay T. Last. Copyright Hillcrest Press, Inc. 2002.