contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sensuous, Sexy Color

Contemporary collage - my current color palette

Nothing pulls me into a painting as immediately as color. Clear across a gallery my eye will instantly find the colors it loves. Books and articles abound on the subject of color and tend to use words like hue, intensity, value, temperature, cool, warm and compliments. I usually fall asleep when I try to read them, for all the good intentions of the author. For me, color is a tool I use daily, that I make discoveries about and that I experiment with intimately. While there is a science to color, my approach goes beyond scientific. The words that describe the “rules” aren’t part of my thinking process. I mix my colors using all I have; my experience, my intuition, and my sensitivity to color.
I think as I am working - deep profound color thoughts like “yummy” and “yuck!” In fact, I think “yummy” is the Nobel prize for color in my studio. Immediately after declaring a color I have just mixed to be yummy, I begin to apply it to any nearby surface that resembles potential collage material. It’s just so much fun.
I collect colors; pages from magazines, photos I have taken, color chips at the building supply stores, rocks and rusty bits brought home in my pocket. My books are full of frilly tags marking the pages where my favorite color combinations are illustrated. I am a fan of design and architectural magazines and books in which designers have produced exquisite examples of perfect edgy color use.
This week Shauna Chapman from Quail Ethical Fashion commented “I was attracted by your collages and the colours you use. Colours of chalk, charred coal, clay, ochre, burnt umber, etc...Your colours remind me of the cave paintings at the Lascaux Cave in France.” And Philip commented “I also see urban art influences by the way.” How satisfying it is to hear my influences have been communicated. Thank you both.
In my inspiration notebooks are photos of old walls, cracked concrete, windows and doors, man hole covers, bleached drift wood, pebbles, feathers, old yellowed stationary from 1940, a winter tree branch. When I am successful, these influences – natural and urban – combine in my work to create a piece that that hopefully evokes a response in the viewer. That is part of the appeal and beauty of contemporary work.
Later today Kurt and I plan to take the cameras for a walk. I know where there are bunches of bare rose hips. A perfect inspiration for red.

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  1. Leslie,
    I've been following your posts for several weeks and I am hugely attracted to the colour schemes you use. They produce a serene (not boring) environment. Sometimes colour distracts me from work, but with yours I just slide in and meander knowing there are all sorts of things to discover. A perfect viewing environment. Wish I could see the real thing because I know how much subtly can be lost in translation.

  2. Leslie,
    These neutrals are certainly beckoning...
    To see this piece in it's "wholeness" is quite amazing...what size is this piece?
    I also like your working words "yummy & yuck" :) I think we share a similar language.
    Looking forward to "seeing red". Jo xx

  3. girl! that is an amazing pic of your work all together like that! YUMMY!

  4. Simply fantastic!
    The result is a new narrative.
    An incredible game aesthetic.
    Table of notes and endless ideas and sensations.
    This juxtaposition with the various collage is a mosaic of plots of memories, which are juxtaposed or overlap creating a space of rupture and suture of diversity in unity, the fragmentation at all.


    José Brito

  5. Leslie, Thankyou for your great encouragement, Ilove the generosity with which you share.
    Most of all I really love colour the way you use different from mine.
    I will learn how to be a bit more "controlled"
    I too use Picassa in this way it is great

  6. I like that the colors you're into right now are also those on your blog. Yummy.

  7. Your collage colour palette is scrummy!!! I love the neutrals but cant wait to see this infusion of red from the rosehips.

  8. I'm loving all your recent posts and collages.

  9. Interesting article - I think we are kindred spirits. I wonder if you are like me in that you can get hooked on a colour. I decided to theme an exhibition around various colours a couple of years ago (mauve, red, white and blue). I got completely hooked on mauve to the point of exhausting it. A lot of my earlier work involved using very few colours in a painting (two or three at the most) - at the moment I am going the opposite way and trying to use lots of colours. Just a change of mood I guess.

  10. Margaret: thanks for your thoughtful feedback. I like to “slide in and meander” in a paintings as well, making discoveries, and finding subtleties. And, yes, when I compare the scan or photo to the real thing, there is a lot of high key texture that is lost. In person art viewing can not be substituted, but the internet has allowed so many of us to connect it’s worth it. And I thank you for the lesson on using medium at your blog. You helped me solve a problem I had given up on.

    Jo: I have posted details of how I did this collage of my collages on the side bar. This piece only exists in the computer. No matter how sophisticated I might like to be, “yummy” and “yuck” are clearly my choice of vocabulary when I am working…..

  11. Jeane: Yummy is a high compliment! Thank you.

    Jose: Thank you. It was a fun project to put all these collages together to demonstrate for myself how I have used color in the last while. I hope you can understand the directions on the side bar of the blog, with use of the translator program. Anyone could do this. It is a great tool to look at work in a new way; and look for consistency.

    Janette: Choosing our colors is very personal. Isn’t it nice we get to use colors however we want to?

    Willow: Always nice to have a visit from you dear Willow.

    Jacky: An infusion of rose hips. Sounds like a potential title for a painting! Thanks.

    Kate: I see you are doing the studio shift too. It’s a challenge to find homes for all the stuff, isn’t it? Thanks for visiting.

    Phillip: Yes, I can get hooked on a color too. I really appreciate that color is a choice we can all make. Limitless possibilities!

  12. Leslie, one of the things that attracts me so much to your work is the way you use the black ink and are able to make it look so classy as you do with your textures; your new palette it awesme. Thank you for sharing the tip with Picasa. I would love to use it for a collage of my grandkids pictures.

  13. A collage of collage,,,I love it!
    Your color selections are alwasy among my favorites,,,I use this aplette often myself.
    Anything earthy, natural,,,,,right up my alley!
    As is always true, your art and your words are so inspiring and uplifting, thanks!

  14. I have a friend who spent an entire winter studying the scientific aspects of color. She is darling, but she corrected me every time I called something what she considerd to be the "wrong" color name- It was a hoot.
    I am not scientific at all about color- my approach is very much like yours. I love the colors you use in your beautiful collages, they give me a feeling of peace, but an active peace.

    My grandkids have a book called Yummy/Yucky. The perfect way to categorize almost anything!

  15. The overlapping, the repetitiveness, the rhythm of this is very appealing. For me, the pared-down color calls attention to the essentials.

  16. We speak the same language, Leslie. I love the collage of collages. Stunning actually!

  17. Mary: Thank you for your encouraging words. I do like the black calligraphic marks too. I hope your collage of your grandkids is fun to do.

    Babs: Yes, I love the earthy colors. I guess it’s a tried and true combination.

    Wildeve: the scientific approach has its value of course, but it’s our individual work with color that lets us use it well. It’s nice you were able to laugh about being color corrected! And yes, yummy and yuck could categorize just about everything!

    San: Thank you for your thoughts. The essentials are framed well by the pared down colors, aren’t they?

    Robyn: Yes, we do speak the same language. First, it is the language of love of beauty…

  18. these are soooo sophisticated, the colors are reigned in and all gorgeous. What will you do with them?

    Oh I am so missing my paints right now.

  19. Hi grr; Most of these are for the International Collage Exchange. Some, the larger ones, are gathering together in the studio. A body of work. I'll find something for them to do! And yes, paints are very fun!

  20. Given the beauty of your color palette, I am not at all surprised that the concept of color is so important to you.

  21. Hi Leslie,

    Is this one piece or lots of small ones? Whatever, I really like the combination!


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