contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Monday, February 23, 2009

The White of Old Bones

Intimate Communication Series, collage, 6 inches by 6 inches, by Leslie Avon Miller

So, for about the forth or fifth time, I am working on a White Series. Now let me tell you, this isn’t easy. That’s why I’m still working on it. White is a color, but as colors go, it isn’t very extroverted, like red or even introverted, like blue. It is actually quite neutral. Kind of like the kid in school who was always okay but never excelled at anything; until he went away to college and became an engineer. Or the girl, who hitchhiked to Los Angeles, took off her braces, got beautiful and became an actress. When they show up at the class reunion, people say “wow!” White is like that. Quiet, unassuming and blended into the background. Until it finds the right setting, with the right cast of supporting actors, and then, well, something beautiful happens.

Whites in all shades of warm butter or gray misty fog, or blue toned sandy seaside, the white of winter drifted snows, the color of old bones; those whites can sing in three part harmony. Those whites mixed together are like a surprise gift wrapped in tissue paper. And that’s what I am seeking and striving to create. And I am also looking to get a little funky kind of thing going with a personal language of symbols, marks and layers of texture. I want to create contrast that accentuates what’s happening, but remains true to the beauty of white, like old world marble which is white but all those other colors too.

I have been reading Wolf Kahn again. What rings true for me is Wolf speaking about the artist expressing unique, particular perceptions. He said “the intimacy of his personal relationship to the work at hand has to remain inviolate.” The White Series keeps calling me back again and again, like a spiral. So here I go again. It’s going to be fun, engaging and challenging work. What could be better than that?


  1. A fellow artist and dear friend was drawn to paint darkness, before light and painted for months...her paintings were filled with color yet clearly said darkness.
    We must paint what we are drawn to paint. I love this piece and I so love the Wolf Kahn quote in your sidebar.

  2. Your paragraph that begins - "Whites in all shades of warm butter or gray misty fog......" is a lovely pack of images, very poetic. Interesting that you mentioned singing, because I think these sentences are singing, too. Thanks for posting.

  3. You've really made me think about white in a new light! Thank you Leslie I enjoyed this post. I have not heard of Wolf so I will have to look him up. I have joined you on the walking challenge - I joined a local walking group a couple of weeks ago and went walking with them on Sunday (see my blog- striped cows!)Here's to fit bloggers!

  4. i like your take on white and love the image you gave us today.

  5. That's true! White is beautiful color. Quiet, discreet! Your White series is pleasant and contemplative.

  6. I came from Willow, via Reya. I have joined your Blub Club and have proudly logged 6 mi on my side bar. Great idea! Thanks for accountability by post. I like your "white series."

    The piece featured in your pic kind of reminds me visually and kinesthetically of the Om symbol. One of my artist friend feels called to do a series of Sri Yantras over and over as they continue to come to her.

    Nice site. Nice to meet u.

  7. I am so attracted to the serenity of this work, Leslie. Each element is placed perfectly. I love white. While many find it a boring colour, I love the way it makes me breath a little easier (yes, there's a lot of white around me). I also have two books about Wolf Kahn's work. His ability to create the energy of landscape through simplified forms is such a strength. It seems simplicity is important to me but I keep piling information in my work. I'm thinking about that. Visiting your site keeps me focused on these thoughts.

  8. Leslie, I posted my post and then read yours. I think we are on some kind of mind journey together, or at least I'm tagging along behind you. You gave me even more to think about...Kahn's quotes (am I bringing up an empty bucket?); blue is an introverted color, the different colors of white. Maybe you will teach me to be a deep thinker after all.

  9. And oh, I forgot to tell you how much I like this collage. The green and yellow are perfect, as are the whites. I love your white series.

  10. Interesting to see white through your eyes.

    My wife is an artist and we were visiting friends whose living room was predominantly a startling white in colour.

    I said that white gets dirty so easily and my wife said, what else can white do?

  11. Love the texture going on here!

    Man, I wish I had a treadmill! It's been so cold here. I bravely walked in the 21 degree cold until my face was numb yesterday! I am resolved. And it's more fun doing it with you! :)

  12. Hello Leslie,

    I like the mustard(?)squares on the right! It will be interesting to see how these pieces develop and the colours/textures with which you contrast the white.

  13. Well, this piece is right up my white alley!
    Each piece you show becomes my newest favorite,,,these are colors that speak so strongly to me. And there are your signature marks,,,,a piece filled with feeling!

  14. I like the name of your new series - old bones

  15. What a wonderful post, and what a great observation about "white not being very extroverted".

    I love white on white - so many subtleties, so many nuances - and yet - it is as strong and as potent as is black. Beautiful piece. I'm eager to see more.

  16. It's quite amazing just how many shades of white there are. I've loved your white series from the day I discovered your blog. Love the Wolf Kahn quote too.

  17. I just so enjoy the comments you all leave here. I have been leaving comments at your blogs, but in some formats the word verification is not working! Oliag and Ms. R Rose, your blogs haven’t let me leave comments. I have seen the photos of the grandkids and the striped cows. All adorable! And other blogs have een having this problem too. So, know I have been visiting, and I bet other people are also.

    Mary Ann: “dark before the light”, what a subject! And I love Wolf Kahn too. He is so gentle.

    Annie: Wow, Annie. Thanks very much. I consider you the writer, so I am touched by your compliment. I am letting my words flow these days.

    Ms. R. Rose; I think you will enjoy Wolf Kahn.

    Not mass produced; I have been eyeing your shoe icon for a while. Are those white shoes with the patina of age on them?

    B and W: White is beautiful.

    Rhonda: 6 miles! I like that you se an Om symbol. I think your blog is one I tried to leave a comment on also. Nice to meet you too.

    Margaret: I find your comments insightful; serenity, breathing room, simplified; all lovely words.

    Mary: We are due for a talk! I am sure no one has an empty bucket! You are a deep painter. Don’t worry about the words. It’s the painting that says so much.

    Barry: I adore that question “What else can white do?” Thank you for the visit. I enjoyed your blog this morning. I’ll be back to read more.

    Willow: I wish you had a treadmill too. Your resolve shows. Is there a mall near by where you can walk in the morning before the shops open? My Uncle did that in Anchorage Alaska. It was pretty cold there too!

    Derrick: I like the colors of mustard. I like many colors actually, just love the neutrals a tad more….

    Babs: Every piece becomes my favorite for at least a while. Thanks for stopping by.

    Jeane: I hadn’t thought of it as The Old Bones Series, but when I read your comment before dashing off to work this morning, I was enthralled by the idea of an Old Bones Series. I have so many ideas…. Thanks!

    Patrice: Thank you. I have always loved white. It will be fun to see how this series evolves, as they always do go somewhere I hadn’t expected.

    Robyn: White weathered colors, earthy colors; we see beauty in similar ways I think. Thank you.

  18. indeed, white and black are tricky colours to represent... but u did it very well! love this one!

  19. Old Bones series indeed. I recently spent two weeks immersed in the intense rich colors of the Caribbean....and found myself a bit 'head achey'....the whites (and soft neutrals) let my mind wander to the story...your paintings are a quiet call to look longer, deeper....

  20. Hi Luisa: Thank you! You also with your black and white photos, which I love.

    Hi Catherine: I enjoy the stimulation of rich color, but in the end I choose to live with quieter colors. I can hear myself think when my surroundings are soothing. Perhaps we are extra color sensitive.

  21. Leslie I love your color palate....the whites of many shades and all the accompanying neutrals...and I love how you describe them...

    Thank you for bringing my attention to the problem some are having leaving comments on my blog altho I don't know what to do about it:) I'm still trying to figure out how to put a walk link in my sidebar LOL!

  22. I was reading in your side bar about "walking". I try to walk every day on my lunch break. I don't think of it as physical exercise. I think of it as my creative thought time. I look at things as I pass by and save those images for my haikus and paintings.

    The texture of your white paintings allows light to create more neutral colors by way of shadows.

  23. Man, are you are sore as I am, Leslie? I guess this means the walking is doing its thing!

  24. Oliag: I think blogger finally fixed the comments issue. I sent you an email of how to add a side bar walk tally.

    Chewy: Love the walk as creative time comment. I do love to be out there too, and thinking. I am finding myself resistant to the treadmill. I’ll talk to myself about it. Thanks for the visit!

    Willow: I *am* sore. This weekend I will be walking out in nature, and I hope walking on the ground vs, asphalt will help. And I will be less sore the more I do. I don’t seem to get a walk in everyday, but I am going to keep up the effort. I say, Good for Us!!!!!

  25. Clearly, you are on intimate terms with the color white. Evocative post and a stunning painting!

  26. Your texture are wondrous in your art and words. Such a beautiful post... Roxanne


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