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Brush with Art: Artist plants creative seeds at Sunshine Gardens

It’s no small coincidence that Solana Beach artist Renée Miller’s given name means “reborn.” The 35-year-old painter and art instructor often recreates herself and is now breathing new life into an old structure that she recently renovated and moved to Encinitas.

The Solana Beach native has a natural talent for approaching life creativity. While a student at Torrey Pines High School, she participated in the summer program at Laguna College of Art and Design and later spent a semester studying at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degreee in Fine Art, she returned to Italy to study under American painter Paul Beel, during which time her paintings were exhibited in the Uffizi Center, an extension of the famed Uffizi Gallery of Florence. Miller considers her most significant artistic influence to be mentor Rod Knutson, northern California artist known locally for his paintings in the Pamplemousse Grill near Del Mar’s racetrack.

After four years of intensive art study in Italy, Miller returned to the U.S. to further develop her career in New York City. She reflects on her 2008 return to the San Diego area, “It was important for me to come back home to plant the seeds I had collected through years of being away.”

Miller’s paintings have been shown in national art expositions such as the Affordable Art Fair in New York. Through June 21, 2015, her painting titled “You Can Leave the Light On” is on exhibit in the international juried “San Diego Dreaming” exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art.

Renée Miller’s “You Can Leave the Light On” (Oil on linen, 48 x 36 inches) is currently on display in the San Diego Dreaming exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art. Courtesy photo
Renée Miller’s “You Can Leave the Light On” (Oil on linen, 48 x 36 inches) is currently on display in the San Diego Dreaming exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art. Courtesy photo

Although she had never intended to go into teaching, Miller began working privately with artistically inclined children in a repurposed landscape maintenance shed in Solana Beach. During the past eight years her popularity has grown exponentially as word spreads of Miller’s success with budding young artists.

Consistent with her creative approach to life, Miller recognized the untapped potential of a former chicken coop originally constructed in 1950 at Feather Acres Farm and Nursery in Del Mar.

Over the course of several months she upgraded the bedraggled structure, transforming it into a fully functional studio and teaching facility where she painted and conducted art classes. When Feather Acres was recently sold, owners of the 60-year-old horse ranch and nursery offered Miller the newly improved building at no cost if she would have  it relocated.

Miller’s search for an appropriate location ended upon discovering a vacant portion of Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas, which called for something consistent with existing businesses including Organic Hammer, North County Olive Oil Company, Betty’s Pie Whole, and Twigs by Teri. She quickly knew this was the ideal home for the revived Renée Miller Studios.

The building was relocated in early June, just in time for Miller to prepare for her summer art camps, scheduled to begin June 22. Each of Miller’s every-other week camps is designed to expand imaginations and learn art techniques with themes such as “Under the Sea” and “Making Magic”. In the rustic Sunshine Gardens environment, students will also spend time with animals while learning about nature, gardening and creativity.

Once again Miller is doing what comes naturally — creating something original and valuable where potential was previously unrecognized and unrealized.

Renée Miller Studios are located at Sunshine Gardens, 155 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024.

Visit for more information on Miller’s artwork and summer art camps or to enroll a student.


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SACI June 12, 2015 at 8:24 am

Great article on SACI Alumna, Renée Miller! SACI is happy to hear about her successes!

Renee Miller June 14, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Thank you for your kind response and I am honored to be continuing and returning the incredible gems that I leaned while studying at SACI.

P.S. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss Italia

Brent Rutemiller June 17, 2015 at 8:15 am

Renee is an amazing talent and the San Diego area is so fortunate to have her. Over time she will prove to be an town jewel and a great asset. Congratulations to Renee!

Ryan Davies June 17, 2015 at 11:16 am

Renee has awesome talent and skill. Her uniqueness lies in her ability to inspire artist to higher heights of creativity and expression. Keep up the excellent work!

Jim Casale June 23, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Sunshine Gardens is now blessed with their own personal “sunshine” artist, Renee Miller! Her passion and creativity will influence many young artists through her art programs! Congratulations Renee!

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