2017 Featured Artist
Like many Alabama boys, life began for me the first time I boated a fish. It was a speckled trout in Mobile Bay; yellow mouth and spotted like tarnished silver. I grew up on the Bay and lived off its bounty; soft shells for breakfast, fried mullet and cheese grits for supper.
In college― returning to Fairhope on breaks from Auburn―I realized the coastal landscape itself fed me as much as the life within it. I craved the Gulf and the tea-colored rivers that fill the Bay. In homage, I suppose, I began painting them.
After graduating from Auburn with a degree in architecture, I spent the next decade in the Northeast. The further I was from Mobile Bay, the greater my compulsion to paint it: the saltwater marshes, barrier islands, and grass flats of my youth. Rendered in saturated colors, rich textures and local beeswax, my paintings evolved from memory. Though not “high art”, they were well received, offering me a professional opportunity to return to Fairhope with my wife and three children.
Today, I operate a design studio that produces custom residential design, interiors and furniture design―in addition to my paintings. Whether designing or painting, I draw daily on the wisdom of Samuel Mockbee, my Auburn thesis advisor and mentor who taught me the importance of making design inclusive. ‘Sambo’ was evangelical in his belief that art should ‘raise up’ the spirits of every person, not just those wealthy enough to afford it.
About Wm. Coleman Mills
From his design atelier in Fairhope, Alabama, Wm. Coleman Mills produces custom residential design, interiors, furniture, abstract art and textiles. Educated as an architect and with degrees in architecture from Auburn, Cornell and Harvard, Mills also studied and trained under AIA Gold Medalists Samuel Mockbee and Michael Graves. For more information about Mills or to view portfolios of his design work or paintings, please visit wmcmstudio.com.