Photography: Shaking It Off by Tracy Miller/Courtesy Tracy Miller

The painter renders remarkable creatures in acrylic and in a multitude of colors and continuing legacy of the West.

Tracy Miller grew up riding horses in her adopted state of Colorado, but another animal would become the creative focus of her bold and colorful expressionistic paintings. The artist was very close to her father, a hunter and outdoorsman, and vividly recalls one day when she was just a young teen that he hunted a buffalo and brought the fallen animal home to feed their family. Cooking the buffalo meat in their kitchen, he asked his daughter if she wanted to taste the heart.

This was a special day for the young girl. She started to reflect on how important the bison was in the settling of the West, providing food and clothing for centuries of indigenous peoples and settlers across the country. Her father gave her the skull and the hide, and she began to consider the bison her spiritual guide.

Her young life revolved around a love of animals, art, and wide-open spaces. With ongoing encouragement from her parents — especially her mom — to pursue a career as an artist, Miller earned her bachelor’s degree in art from Denver’s Metropolitan State University.

Today, animals, especially bison, play a big role in her work. She renders the remarkable creatures in acrylic and in a multitude of colors. “I imbue the bison with the most of myself,” she says. “Painting this symbol on canvas with bright and bold acrylic brushstrokes keeps the West alive for me.” Last February one of her bison paintings was chosen as the signature piece and poster for the One Nation Film Festival; another of her paintings will grace next year’s poster. Several other signature bison pieces are displayed around the Children’s Hospital in Denver.

Photography: Wise One by Tracy Miller/Courtesy Tracy Miller

Seeing animals in nature is her passion, as is translating that passion into art as part of the continuing legacy of the West. “The animal reveals itself to me in the process of applying paint,” Miller says. “My work starts as pure abstract expressionism, integrating emotion and movement through color and shape. I then refine the details that make the animal immediately recognizable, capturing its essence and spirit.”

While she lives in Colorado Springs, Miller has a studio in the historic art community of Manitou Springs, Colorado. In 2011, she rented a small backroom studio in a decades-old building in town; within two years, she had expanded into a multi-room space and opened the Tracy Miller Gallery with a goal of selling “art of the New West,” continuing with Western themes — of cowboys, cowgirls, Native Americans, landscape, and wildlife — “but with new materials and brighter colors.”

This fall, Miller and other Manitou Springs galleries will celebrate October Arts Month, when the Pikes Peak region showcases the arts and culture of Colorado. Her gallery will host an exhibition called The Great American Bison, featuring almost two dozen artists who will paint and sculpt the national mammal.

When she’s not putting her reverence for our Western heritage on canvas, you might find Miller driving the back roads of Colorado and exploring the West’s national parks seeking inspiration.

Find more on the artist at Visit her gallery at 16 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, Colorado, 719.650.0827.

From the October 2017 issue.