On the range
Lady Jill Mueller
Working the same job for 40 years and still adoring it takes commitment, and Lady Jill Mueller is dedicated to her artwork. A childhood hobby of drawing with her sister evolved over time into a passion for painting.
Creativity was in her blood, as her mother was a gifted artist. Mueller felt that her mom had settled for married life rather than pursue that talent. Mueller herself gave marriage a 12-year try, too, but she decided that path wasn’t for her after all.
After her marriage ended, she struggled to earn an income. Unsure how to support herself, she tried different things, at one point being a caregiver. The job didn’t suit her. She yearned for a life where she could be true to herself and do something she enjoyed. She began creating and teaching painting to see herself through the ups and downs of economics and life. Today, still loves to creating paintings, drawings and etchings. She also shares her passion with others, teaching classes and workshops. She hopes to find a protégé who will carry on her love of watercolors.
Inside her country rambler home in Carson Valley, paintings and drawings hang all around and rest on the floor, leaning in stacks against the wall. The many canvases each have a destination—an art sale here or an upcoming exhibit there. Lady Jill has a full docket of events and material to show and sell at each. Most of the work that awaits a new home was inspired by looking outside her current one. Standing at a big picture window in her dining area, she has a straight sight line to her favorite thing, the mountains. The terrain was what compelled her to move from California and make the Sierra Nevada home years ago.
“My biggest inspiration is mountains,” Mueller said. “One of the coolest comments I’ve gotten over the years when people look at my artwork is that they can tell I love the mountains.”
One watercolor canvas she’s been working on at her easel shows a purple mountain range brushed by gentle fog and a white, wintery landscape. It’s marked with berry bushes where a deer is snacking. The painting is called “Berries for Breakfast” and is drawn directly from the view outside her window.
If she’s in Yosemite, Mammoth or at her home in Northern Nevada, she will grab a canvas to capture what she can of the moment, even if it’s just a small bit of it. All of these “starts,”as she calls them serve as snapshots of places she goes. And making them sharpens her mind and talents. Putting something, anything, on the blank canvas is a piece of advice she learned from artist David Millard. Mueller proudly has his book The Joy of Watercolor in her home library. In her copy, he signed the inside cover with a note saying, “Work is the only secret. Paint every day. Put in the mileage.” So, she does. And it looks like that’s not going to stop anytime soon.
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop painting,” she said. “I’m gonna be the old lady directing the art show and shuffling to class.”