"Miller, who paints in a bold cubist style he calls 'Afro Deco,' uses his exuberant paintings to illustrate the story of his coming of age as an artist in Baltimore. Surrounded by affection in a visually stimulating environment, the young Miller cavorts through a joyful world of primary-colored objects and multi-hued relatives and neighbors. Conflicts are hinted at in the artist's fleeting unease at entering an all-white art school, but Miller's path leads fairly smoothly to success in realizing a unique artistic vision while maintaining close ties to his cultural roots. Unfortunately Murphy's narrative, while easily understood, lacks the freewheeling inventiveness of Miller's vivacious, slyly patterned paintings. Still, the spirit of the artist—and the idea that 'hope, love, hard work and lots of color' can accomplish miracles—comes through." — Publishers Weekly
Can a Coal Scuttle Fly?
Delightful illustrations by Tom Miller (1945-2000) with text by Camay Calloway Murphy tell a true story of a young boy with talent - who recognizes the potential for life and stories in the objects, people and places he encounters every day. And, with the encouragement of family and friends, this young boy grows up to be an artist!
1996, Camay Calloway Murphy and Tom Miller, 32 pp, Hardcover
"Baltimore native Tom Miller is a nationally known artist. Here, Miller illustrates his life story and emphasizes the message of the possibilities of life. Miller loved color from the time he was very young, and his Baltimore neighborhood was full of sights and sounds and laughter. His first project was painting a coal scuttle and making it look like a bird. Later, he went to art school and then taught art, always telling his students that 'anything is possible when you are true to your colors and true to yourself.' Miller is certainly true to his colors: his artwork is bold and imaginative and executed in a style he calls Afro Deco. Kids will respond to both the freewheeling shapes and the positive message. As much an art book as a biography." — Booklist