Alexander Millar contemporary impressionist is one of the most popular and collectable artists working today.
His paintings hang in galleries and private collections all over the world and he continues to gain critical acclaim for the works he produces.
What the critics say
David Lee art critic and editor of the Jackdaw magazine said:
“What is admirable about Alexander Millar’s contemporary impressionist paintings is that they are the product of reference and invention, as the best art should be. They broadcast a real and touching sentiment and I recognise immediately their intimate truths.
We who lived our formative years in a Britain still affected by the aftermath of the Second World War, won’t forget it. We can’t because the image of those times is burned into our mind’s eye. It was a materially poorer but spiritually prouder era.
The uniqueness of those city landscapes and horizons, dark and broken places hinted at in Millar’s work, has been largely erased from sight by boundless modernisation.”
His early influences
Millar’s childhood was spent growing up in the small mining community of Springside, situated between the two Scottish towns of Irvine and Kilmarnock.
“Even though I grew up in the 60s, it felt more like the 40s,” comments Millar, “the village seemed to be in a time warp, stuck between the industrial revolution and Brig O Doon. As with most wee places in Scotland, Springside had its fair share of “characters” most of whom I was related to in one way or another.”
Even as a child Millar was always fascinated by the small details he saw in everyday life. He would stand in awe at something as insignificant as an old man getting off a bike, an woman with bad hips struggling onto the bus, or the way a drunk would stand by the local pub negotiating a chip to land somewhere in the region of his mouth.
He describes it all as a street dance, produced for him alone, making the ordinary and mundane quite fascinating.
“I guess that is the whole premise of the work that I produce, in that I still take delight in turning the “ordinary” into something “extraordinary”.
Millar was born and raised in the small mining community of Springside, near Kilmarnock on the west coast of Scotland. His earliest memories were of time spent in the company of Woodbine-smoking old men dressed in dark suits, and large missile-shaped women decked out in big overcoats, pinnies, tartan headscarves and zip-up booties that were trimmed with fake fur .
His father worked for British Rail, so Millar grew up watching and observing these working men in their natural environment. Their cycle rides to work at dawn, the industries that employed them, drunken meanders from the pub at night; a street ballet that was constantly played out before his eyes has given Millar inspiration for his paintings for over 20 years.
Everyday life reimagined
It is this, almost choreographed, everyday routine that Millar depicts in his paintings. Making the ordinary details of life extraordinary via his exquisite use of light and impasto brushstrokes, Millar brings alive those wonderful memories of a bygone era, his depth of expression as a contemporary impressionist gives us an insight into the hearts and souls of working men around the world.
Finding the muse
“Most mornings I can be found at my favourite cafe in Jesmond on the outskirts of Newcastle called Arlo’s. It serves the best Americano in the city with just the right vibe for me to ease me into the creative flow first thing in the morning. I usually go there armed with sketch pad as drawing is the secret to painting.”
“Some think that you draw to become a better draughtsman or draughtswoman, but that’s not why everyone who wants to paint should first learn how to draw. Drawing gets you into the right frame of mind to paint, for drawing should eventually become an unconscious thing, a bit like doodling.”
Where to find inspiration
“When maybe on the phone talking away, you’ve found yourself doodling and looking at what you’ve scribbled. You look in amazement for you’ve no recollection of scirbbling that pattern or drawing. When you draw it’s a way to getting into a meditative state to paint. Inspiration will come to you when you are in a passive state and not actively looking for it.”
“I listened to a documentary about Mozart; he would sit by his piano waiting for inspiration to strike and not being able to write. When he got into a carriage, passively looking out the window and listening to the wheels on the cobbles, that’s when inspiration would come and he would then go on to compose his music.”
View permanent collections of Alexander’s work at: