contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Am Complete

The four Bone Prayer paintings are done. These were satisfying to paint. When I put the black gesso on the edges of the birch panels this afternoon, the work just looked complete. Earlier today when I was working, the largest Hawk I have ever seen flew overhead, and just now, as I began to write this post, an Eagle was soaring over the ravine, circling. No doubt it was looking for supper.

I wrote a lot of thoughts on these pieces, writing that is now buried under paint, with just bits peaking out. As I worked I held memories of women in my life who nurtured me – my Mom, my Gram, a dear friend, and me. I decided to include myself in these prayers of gratitude as I strive to be a good friend to myself. All of the love is perfectly imperfect. This work is as personal as I can imagine being in my art, this remembering and honoring what was and what still is.

A while ago I ran across a Statement from an artist I admire – Lenore Tawney. She said in part “Creation is a defiance of ordinary verbal communication. Its origins lie in the ineffable part of one’s own being….Art is always just beyond language.” That is how these Bone Prayers are – ethereal and just beyond words. My satisfaction comes from having expressed myself this way about a topic that is too big and multifaceted for me to put into words.

You can see the web site where I found Lenore’s statement here. Click on the statement tab to read From Scraps of Memory, her statement in its entirety.

At the closure of a gathering I attend, we speak in turn, and close by saying “I am complete.”


  1. For such small pieces, they are monumental...I really adore them! Very beautiful surfaces for eyes to roam around...


  2. They are beautiful..Well done my friend.

  3. Big sigh...Wonderful work Leslie...
    I admire Lenore Tawney's work. Her postcards are wonderful little gems of self expression! Her words say it all.

  4. Leslie, what a wonderful post the canvases really look as if the layers you speak of are only just under the surface.
    Congratulations some time I hope we meet.

  5. Bone Prayers... I love to think of the prayers and thoughts written between the layers. Beautiful work! Which is your prayer?

  6. Like 4 lands to soar into, stay a while, gaze. Thanks for sharing such a personal series.

  7. Hi Leslie,

    I really like these but especially the bottom two. And, as you say, the black edges really set them off. Great stuff.

  8. Awesome work, Leslie, in the "old school" sense of the word. I am loving the bits of yellow/gold amongst the textures. What's your next project?

  9. These are amazing. The colors are very calming to me. I really like the prayer aspect of these pieces. I look forward to seeing where you go now.

  10. Sensational series. You have captured such a sense of depth and layering. Feels like an excavation! And Lenore Tawney was such a visionary artist. Thanks for the link.

  11. a wonderful form for your prayers....

  12. Nice pieces...thoughtful, camoflaged works.

  13. Laura: Thank you for your kind words.
    Katelen: Thanks for stopping by.
    Jo: Thank you. I agree.
    Janette: I sincerely hope we meet as well.
    Robyn: I started out with separate pieces for each individual prayer. They then evolved into parts of the whole. No one prayer is separate, and include many other memories and connections.
    Annie: Thank you.
    Derrick: I like the dark edges too.
    Mary: Next project is a departure. Stay tuned.
    Miki: Thank you. I like the calm feeling as well.
    Seth: Lenore blazed a trail for us to follow.
    Jeane: Thank you.
    Tom: Camouflaged, but I hope inviting the viewer in to look closer.

  14. "I am complete" says so much. A beautiful surface to hold a place of prayers...thank you for sharing these...I feel their beauty. Can hardly wait for the next project.

  15. they are all absolutely gorgeous. congrats on a wonderful work!

  16. I absolutely LOVE your work.

  17. Mary Ann: I like the satisfaction of “I am complete.” Such a place of rest. Thank you.

    Luisa: I love your new photo; the shoes and stripes look so playful!

    Rosie: Bones have their own beauty; wild and raw, natural and strong. Thank you.

    Zappha: Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by. I am pleased to discover your blog and see your work. I also enjoyed reading your thought on your process, and what your art means to you.

  18. I hope someone buys them as a complete set. It would be a shame to separate them. Or are these staying on your wall, Leslie?

  19. Your art IS beyond language! I hope someday I can see the "bones" in person. They are finished and in the hands of the universe. Well done. Well done.

  20. Hi Leslie,
    I had a moment this morning before running out to teach a class and thought to look at you blog, OMG, what a wonderful series. and the state from Lenore Tawney, is printed and hanging in my studio for inspriation. So glad I stop by. Great work Lady.

  21. Perfection,,,this timeless appearing quartet!

  22. This puts to rest the old adage that a work of art is never complete, it is just abandoned. :)

  23. What a wonderful series... Bone Prayers. I love that name. Very special and I just love the meaning behind these pieces.
    The hint of writing coming through is a very personal touch.

  24. What springs out to me from these images (and others before them) is their depth. They are not fractal, but they have the same sense of infinite recursion.

    I love them and find them inspirational.

  25. What I really like about these paintings is that they are multi-layered in all sorts of different ways.
    Yes, if we could say it in words we wouldn't have to paint it.
    A visual idea......oh dear, I get all muddled up, but I think you know what I mean.
    When we lived in Morocco, I used to take endless pictures of old walls because they seemed to have stories.
    Working on a painting or poem is almost like a form of meditation.
    ps. Buster thinks you are a very kind person....
    he is currently asleep on the ottoman at my feet...

  26. "Just beyond the language." Yes, that's the way with art, isn't it? What keeps us coming back to the studio, to get our hands dirty with that truth.

    You say your Bone Prayers were satisfying to make. They are VERY satisfying to look at. Wonderful art. Your grandmother and your mother and your friend and your inner mother are feeling that satisfaction, on some level, probably many levels.

  27. Hi Carol: I’m not sure where these will end up. For now, I’m enjoying them.

    Marie: Thank you. The universe has them now.

    Laura; I appreciate your work as well. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Babs: A quartet; thanks!

    Barry: Yes, these do feel complete. Perhaps the expression was at a stopping point more than the physical works.

    Jacky: Thank you! The writing was an important part of the process of making these pieces.

    ian: Infinite recursion – That’s great – thanks.

    Elizabeth: Yes! That’s part of it isn’t it? Old walls have such stories. I just love Buster. For anyone wondering who Buster is, Elizabeth has a blog written by her puppy Buster. It is always fun to go see what Buster is up to.

    San: Oh, I like that. “Get our hands dirty with that truth.” And yes, I feel the connections never end – they just change form.

    Nancy: Thank you!

  28. Despite your title, these speak to me of music somehow.


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