contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our Creative Dance

Untitled Collage 6 x 6 by Leslie Avon Miller

“Our creative selves need plenty of sensory stimulation to feel inspired…” –Donna Watson.

Isn’t this the truth?! That’s part of what goes on in the blog world. We post things for our ongoing show and tell - grown-up version. We tell about trips to galleries, bookstores, art openings, urban streets, the sea, the mountains, or anywhere we see inspiration. We post photos of our creative spaces, show work in progress, and talk about colors that stimulate the eye. The blog world is an artist date on-line style! When I find work I love by an artist I “discovered” I often go back again and again and again and just gaze at the work. I can become almost awe struck with the beauty I see. What a gift is it to be alive, to be creative, and to allow myself to feel the satisfaction and challenge of creating a work of art. It must be the same for writers, musicians, chefs, decorators, scientific researchers….anyone who faces a problem to solve and applies their creativity to it.

Today I was reading a book called Creative Authenticity by Ian Roberts. He wrote “We need to look at other art. We need to study it and react to it. We’re not trying to reinvent artistic expression. Artists, as artists, are moved by art as much or more than by nature. Artists see subjects to paint based on how they have assimilated the art that has moved them in the past. There is of course a melting pot of influences.”

One use of notebook jottings is to go back and revisit the compelling symbols, and ideas I have had from the beginning of my artistic exploration. It can also be useful to review work from our past. When I do this I see that I have always done mark making from the very beginning, some of them much like the calligraphic marks in my current communication series. I have always been drawn to neutral colors, although I have also painted using more saturated colors. From the beginning I have often used warm earthy colors, or sparse but soft blacks and whites with just a hint of a third color for contrast. I have used grids, lines, geometric shapes and little specks of flung paint most often with organic edges. Texture and minimalism has been with me as “mine” from the very beginning. Can you find in your work elements you have consistently used in your authentic voice?

Recently in a notebook I found the following note to myself “Make the places where colors and shapes come together complex – scratch, dot, line, and value changes.” Thursday is a studio day for me, and I can hardly wait to get in there, roll up my sleeves and dance with my creativity!


  1. Hi Leslie,
    You are so right about looking back in old notebooks and seeing what interested you or ideas you had. Somehow that kind of thing doesn't really change much over the years - in essence. When I look back, I see notes of ideas I've forgotten that I may have discovered all over again. I don't feel stuck, just true to myself. Thanks for stating this. Happy painting on Thursday!

  2. And you dance so well!

    This is another extraordinary piece.
    I always admire minimal. I find it very difficult to do. The "wonder what if,,," always takes over, and the knowing when to stop is so elusive.
    Yeah, this show and tell is my kinda thing.

  3. Hi Leslie,

    I wish you well with your dance but hope that it doesn't make you too giddy! A nice gentle waltz perhaps? :0)

  4. Lovely, lovely, lovely. And your writing is inspiring. And I really like your Bacon quote on the sidebar.

  5. love it! it has the colours of the beautiful one I have received by post :) thank you so much again Leslie, it's now on my wall :) and I love it, you are super talented and the textures look amazing even more amazing in real... thanks thanks thanks!!!!

  6. I was ready to make a comment when I read Mary Buek's comment, then had to go back a read your sidebar and yes, I agree, I especially like the Francis Bacon quote too...thank you.
    Enjoy your studio dance and know that in all our corners of this planet, we are dancing too!!!!
    Love this piece!

  7. Leslie, I love how you describe 'blogland' - I think it is just that!

  8. Thanks, Leslie, for writing an inspiring post. While I could comment on any number of statements you made I was drawn to this quote...

    "We’re not trying to reinvent artistic expression. Artists, as artists, are moved by art as much or more than by nature. Artists see subjects to paint based on how they have assimilated the art that has moved them in the past. There is of course a melting pot of influences.”

    I think this is so true. When someone asks me who my influences are, I cannot name only one or even several. I think the art we create is influenced by every piece of art we have ever seen. Inspiration and ideas come back to us in various ways at different times. We in turn filter and adjust ideas, compositions, techniques etc. as we create.
    There was a time when I looked on the internet and saw an artist's work that was similar to mine and was horrified by these similarities. I felt like a fake because I wasn't "original". Maybe someone would think I was copying! Now I question what artist out there is truly original in thought and expression. We are more alike than different. I wonder how others feel about this point. To me it bears a lot of consideration.

  9. I can't wait to see what your dance with your creativity yields.

  10. A melting pot of influences. I like that.

    Dance must be in the air today. Your's is the third one I've seen in the bloggyhood!

  11. Yes, wonderful inspirational writing and I agree with the art melting pot of ideas. I love to curl up with an art book and am always getting excited by others work. I think we take what we want from others, little bits we use or discard according to our own expression. Artists have always fed off each other. I have studied art history and in my opinion nothing is original.

  12. Hello---just found your blog and am excited to see things that seem "familiar" to me, except that you have created a wonderful blog for others to follow and I just sit here enjoying rather than creating my own. Where do you find the time to do it all...create art, blog, capture the art and post, walk, and still maintain a life too? I would love to talk to you sometime. I need to learn to manage my time better I guess. I received a BA in Art and love to write also. I believe in Wabi Sabi and love gardening and nature. I also took some sign language classes in college and enjoyed it thoroughly although unless you have someone to practice it with you lose it. I live in No. Calif in the Foothills. You? Feel free to email me if you'd like. I could use a bit of a kick in the "you know what".

  13. hope you had a good dance today in your studio - your picture shows your quote - make the crossroads in shape and colour complex - like it very much! xD

  14. It is interesting how the dance line has struck a cord in many of the comments.

    If we're blogging our very use of a language cuts us off from most of the human race who won't understand us.

    But when you paint, why you can dance with anyone!

  15. Leslie, I am also a fan of Ian Roberts. I have his book called "Mastering Composition." In it he explains, very clearly, how to encourage a perceptual shift, where you learn to see abstractly, to concentrate on shapes and flow. Perhaps I will also have to purchase "Creative Authenticity." It makes me think of Caroline Myss, who encourages her readers to think symbolically, relating the events and people in their lives to archetypes and symbols.

    I greatly admire Annie Dillard and Robert Genn, both of whom you quote.

    I would also have kept "Ice Collage"--I love that piece!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed what I've read so far in your blog . . .
    and will be back (Google Reader will remind me, as well).

  16. I hope you had a wonderful "studio day" on Thursday! I agree with you about the show and tell feeling of blogs. When I see and read about art that moves me my soul is fed...
    Your last quote is beautiful, about finding the places "where colors an shapes come together..." you are making me think... thank you and have a lovely weekend! Roxanne

  17. Inspiring post again, Leslie. There isn't a day that passes that I don't feel moved by art. Whether it is something new on the internet or the work of a world famous artist in one of my treasured art books, there is always something that gives me butterflies and makes me feel grateful for this love of art that I share with so many bloggers.

  18. Leslie

    Thanks for sharing the quote about the influence of viewing other art. I like the notion that the art we create is affected by how we have assimilated the art of others. I think this is true. We're not interested (usually!) in copying others, but how we respond to their art stirs our own artistic pot and surely alters the taste of the creative soup inside.

  19. Love the thoughtfulness of this post. And in your collage, on the left I see jingling rings of the sort a dancer might wear looped together as necklace, belt, bracelet, anklet ... Or cymbals. On the right I see percussive square-shaped waves emanating in an outwards drumbeat.

    Ian Roberts is right about assimilating the work of other artists. Sometimes the originality we apply, however, can be subconsciously accidental. Myself being a stereotypical lover of Monet, I once photographed water lilies and then "painted" them in Photoshop. Working from image and memory, I lovingly made sharp-lined lily pads a vivid neon purple against metallic-silver-iron water. A viewer later on frowned and commented that Monet's water lilies didn't look like that. In a sense I was disappointed. In another sense, it's encouraging to know that I can build on someone else's artistic vision to come up with something unique, perhaps despite myself.

  20. Thank you so much for your inspiring thoughts and quotes. I keep and love notebooks as well. Have a lovely evening:)

  21. Love these ideas and quotations.
    Thanks for sharing.



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