Miles of Art

Written by Heather David

For a typical college student, juggling a full-time course load and a part-time job might be overwhelming, but Miles Lewis seems to flourish with that kind of pressure.

In 2009, while studying printmaking at California State University, Northridge, Miles was also educating others—teaching life drawing and painting classes to local teens out of his family’s residence in Woodland Hills.

“When I began as an artist there was a sort of apprenticeship ethic to how I was learning. So at 17, I was teaching 10-year-olds, and by the time I was 19 my students were 14- and 15-year-olds. I wasn’t much older than they were! I was, in a sense, working parallel with them while leading them forward. I found that to be really rewarding,” Miles recalls.

After graduating in 2013, Miles grew his fledgling business to launch the Valley Art Workshop—a hub for a wide range of artistic endeavors including art exhibitions, classical and jazz concerts as well as weekly classes. Two nights a week students drop in for $15 painting and drawing classes, and on Sunday mornings Miles teaches a kids’ class. There are also occasional invitational arts workshops aimed at tapping local talent and connecting artists with the community.

Miles partners with the North Hollywood-based nonprofit 11:11 Creative Collective, which sends eager students his way.

“Art has always been relatively underserved in public education, so students are able to come here to learn about and work on new ideas. The 11:11 group is trying to raise the level of art in the Valley through exhibitions, street fairs and murals,” he says.

He keeps his studio in the Valley by design. “The LA fine art scene in the past few years is practically equal to that of New York. The Valley has that small-town, suburban quality, but at the same time it’s filled with high-level creative people,” explains Miles.

Now 27, Miles’ portraits capture his classical training in a youthful way. Watercolor paintings and ink drawings often feature symbolism dealing with political and social issues. This has garnered Miles international attention as well, with his work being showcased in galleries across Europe and Southern California.

For more, go to valleyartworkshop.com