Last week Brian posted a piece about the Smithwick Devil’s Toothpick, and it featured a black and white rendering drawn by Wiley Miller. Then yesterday I posted a piece on the 1979 Northwoods catalog that just happened to feature several of Wiley’s color renderings. In that piece I said I would be creating a stand-alone gallery featuring those images as well as others not included in that catalog review. Well, today in, Wiley Miller – Artist Extraordinaire, I’m presenting his gallery.
This gallery features 21 of Wiley’s color renderings, all of which are just spectacular. I feel bad calling them renderings because they’re so lifelike I feel they deserve something of a higher claim. The detail in each of these works of art will blow your socks off.
All of us over the years have no doubt seen his work gracing the covers of magazines and in articles. But until last week, I’d never seriously examined his work. It was just in the background, unfortunately. The image to grab your attention to get you to read the magazine or article.
After working on the 1979 Catalog, though, I had no choice but to sit and look deep into his work. I scanned these images at 600 dpi and was able to blow them up on my computer. Originally these images have the dimension of roughly 4-inches tall by 5-1/2-inches in length. I was able to blow them up on my 27-inch computer screen to at least 8 x 11 and wow, do these images pop.
Not only are the images vivid, but the detail put into each one could have only been done by an angler who just happened to be an artist. In this case, we have an example of an angler who happens to be an extremely gifted artist.
Miller’s work graced the covers of Fishing Facts for over 30 years. But Miller’s skill didn’t stop at drawings. He was an expert painter, taxidermist, and carver. We was quoted as saying :
“It’s a challenge to paint the fish, birds and animals as God created them, but this is the work I wanted to do all my life.”
And do it he did.
Miller’s work is still looked upon as the best in the industry. His works go for thousands of dollars and in my eyes, are worth every penny spent.
Some of the detail I mentioned in the paragraphs above can be seen in the following images presented below. Look at the Smallmouth eating the DBII Balsa B. The crankbait in this image looks like a picture in a Bagley’s ad, complete with the lead tuning button. Same with the Largemouth eating the Bagley’s Small Fry. He makes that crankbait look better than the real thing.
The next image that blew me away was the white- redhead Bomber coming through the trees and into the mouth of a largemouth. Notice the wood splinters coming off the tree as the bait frees from the wood. Detail. It’s that kind of detail that separates him from other artists.
I could go on about my new-found admiration for Wiley Miller, but I won’t bore you with my words. Instead, I’ll let you examine them on your own in the gallery below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Wiley Miller was born in Wisconsin in April 1936. He fulfilled his dream of creating some of the best artwork the outdoor community has ever seen. Miller passed on October 29, 2020, leaving us with volumes of work. Thank you, Wiley Miller, for sharing your passion with us. I just wish I would have paid more attention earlier.
Thanks for the effort in posting this wonderful artwork, Terry. Brings back a lot of memories related to that great magazine of yesteryear, Fishing Facts. If I had to pick a favorite in the bunch, I would select the smallmouth about to gobble a Roadrunner. Makes me want to go grab my rod and head out fishing!
Two other artists with similar excellent work are Larry Tople, who provided In-Fisherman with lots of great covers over the years, and Al Agnew, who contributed cover illustrations to many Bass Pro Shops specialty catalogs. If you are not familiar with either artist, they are definitely worth checking into……
Thanks Mike. I love that Roadrunner image too! I am familiar with both Tople and Agnew. Agnew from BPS but also the prints he sold through Smallmouth magazine.