Kevin Miles and Wendy Schaefer-Miles consider Colorado a second home, so it was only fitting they were selected to celebrate its scenic landscapes through official artwork. The Aspen Chamber of [...]
Wendy and Kevin Schaefer-Miles
Married artists Wendy and Kevin spend their lives together documenting America. They share a mutual love of nature and traveling, evident in the lush greenery of their landscapes. Traveling from the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest to the small cottage towns of Rhode Island, the couple paints the landscapes of America. Together they’ve been sharing amazing experiences and the path that appears in many of their paintings is a metaphor for the journey we all take in life.
Faith is important to the couple as well, signified by the light and warmth present in all their paintings. They try to convey a bit of mystery and anticipation in their work, igniting others to enjoy life as much as they do.
Meeting in Florida, they were married in 1987 and started painting together only one year later as Schaefer/Miles. As the daughter of a Wisconsin dairy farmer, Wendy longed to return home after her father died. The couple moved back to Wisconsin, just north of Whitehall in the hills of Trempealeau County, and set up their dream studio in a series of converted farm houses. Since they’re in one of the least populated areas of the state, the solitude provides them with the isolation and creative freedom they desire – plus time to spend with their two daughters.
Wendy and Kevin are truly a unique husband and wife team, as well as internationally published collaborative painters. Their radiant oil paintings have captivated art lovers throughout the world. Appreciative collectors rave about the quality of the light and the depth in the talented couples’ vivid landscapes. Most recently, the team went on an expedition to the Rocky Mountains, selling their landscapes even before they were dry. Through their travels, the couple has found immediate success. Besides painting on canvas, Wendy and Kevin are active in creating original serigraphs that are lavishly embellished.
Their unique working arrangement has attracted a lot of attention. They have been featured extensively on talk shows and in the print media. Not many people could share a creative bond that is so personal, but to Wendy and Kevin, it’s second nature.
Quite literally, the couple finishes each other’s sentences, completing each thought like they work on their paintings. Kevin considers Wendy more “painterly.” “She just wants to get it all on the canvas,” he says. She’s concerned about the whimsy, the colors, and the scenery – and then Kevin comes in. More analytical and interested in definition, Kevin wields his palette knife and paint to carve some clarity into each work, building-up and neutralizing areas between the foreground and background. The relationship is nearly perfect as Wendy gets bored quickly, constantly interested in the next blank canvas. Kevin, on the other hand, has little interest in the initial stages, intensely focused on the details within each work.
It all seemed to begin when the couple began painting a large mural together. Wendy lavishly applied her paints to the canvas, and Kevin noticed details he wanted to improve. Little by little they started adjusting each other’s work, slowly realizing the potential of their arrangement. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but something that happened naturally; it just made sense for them. Although they spend so much time painting together, the artists don’t seem to influence the each other’s style very much. Wendy claims that she’s “un-teachable,” diagnosed while in art school. Kevin, while slightly more open to Wendy’s influence, has only taken cues to relax more while he paints. When it comes to his style, it’s literally carved in impasto.
Their Wisconsin studio is what they call “Bohemian,” with photos and books and bits of nature everywhere, like collections of rocks and birch bark. The studio itself was recently remodeled, and includes a cathedral ceiling with ropes and pulleys to lift their larger paintings. Once a chicken coop, the structure was completely converted to maintain wood floors, skylights, and plenty of space to work. While they paint, they like to watch movies – Wendy enjoying female-empowering action movies, while Kevin appreciates all kinds of artistic films, especially those by Woody Allen.
The environment with which they surround themselves – from their studio to their home and small town – is quintessentially Midwestern, and they’d have it no other way. The small town atmosphere makes them feel safe and is the ideal home for their children. They’ve gone to the same church for more than 25 years and feel both grounded and creatively inspired in such a warm atmosphere.
When discussing their inspiration, both Wendy and Kevin mention Rembrandt. They have art constantly rotating on the walls of their own home as well, by artists like Rufino Tamayo (the artist they dub the “Mexican Picasso”) and works they have traded with artistic friends.
Selling more than 3,000 paintings thus far, Schaefer/Miles truly enjoy meeting their collectors. They want to share their work with everyone and appreciate the opportunities they’ve had with Park West, allowing them to interact with so many of their collectors. They recall meeting one teary-eyed woman at a VIP event as an incredible highlight for them. She waited patiently all afternoon to speak with the artists, and upon her introduction, she told them that she just wanted to see if it was possible that a couple could truly paint together and remain in such deep love. The artists were touched and continue to remember this moment.
The camaraderie between the other Park West artists is also something they look forward to. They find a healthy sense of constant improvement, trying not to “get lost on the wall,” and appreciating the diversity each talented artist brings.
Schaefer/Miles works have been widely published and are viewed and appreciated by over 7 million people a year. With distribution in over 40 countries around the world, the artists’ popularity continues to grow. Despite this amazing level of exposure, however, Wendy and Kevin have shunned media attention.
The couple has exhibited their work at the ArtExpo in New York and Chicago and the ArtExpo in Las Vegas. They have received dozens of awards. They have also participated in prestigious shows like the Scottsdale Celebration of Fine Art, the Arts for the Parks National Landscape Competition, as well as shows in Carmel, Beaver Creek, Beverly Hills, and La Jolla. The Wisconsin Foundation for the Arts selected Schaefer/Miles as their commissioned artists in 2003, hanging one of their oil paintings in the governor’s mansion. It has since been placed in the permanent collection of Madison’s Elvehjem Museum.