contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A View From the Edge

I like the edges of things, where things come together and change because of contact with one another. I like the edges of things, where there is a rawness, a frontier to be discovered. I like the edges of things, where the water and sand burnish one another and leave each other softer, more rounded and energized.

I particularly like edges in my art work. I like to see two colors come together and create contrast. I like to see water media flow into one another and create an interesting trail of changes. I like to see textures, one abutted up against the other, making each more beautiful in the visual reaction. I like margins on the page, and breaking the rules and writing or drawing in that space just to see what comes of it. I just like the words “threshold” and “verge”.

And when it comes to ephemera, I love the worn, softened edges of 100 year old wheat colored papers; music sheets, handwritten diaries, and yellowed book pages. I like old photographs, poorly exposed, or badly composed, but changed by being pasted in an old back photograph album. I love my family’s collection old player piano rolls, some worn out beyond use. And I adore yellowed tape, no longer holding much together, but leaving a rectangle of the most beautiful amber color that can only be created over time.

I have created a little book using yellowed ephemera, the only criteria being the pieces have interesting edges, lines, markings, or signs of age. Making this book I was able to hang out with Kurt as he continues to heal from his surgery with his foot elevated, and still satisfy my creative urges as I found interesting tid-bits, arranged them and affixed them to stationary from World War II. I’m calling this book The Book of Edges.

And some of my inspiration came from Jo Horswill’s Quiet Book, which you can see here.

“We’re always attracted to the edge of where we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy.”

E. L. Doctorow

“Energy gathers at the borders. It appears spontaneously at birth and death, at the beginning of a novel and at the end. It gathers at natural boundaries such as the new moon and the first day of spring, and at human-made borders such as presidential elections.”

Paul Richards.


  1. Hi Leslie! I love old wheat colored papers, old photographs, yellowed book pages and your art works too!
    Thank you for link to Jo Horswill’s Quiet Book.

  2. Oh "The Book Of Edges" how wonderful and I'm so pleased I had a little something to do with the inspiration behind your project :)
    I'm even more thrilled to hear you were able to "hang out with Kurt" whilst making your book. That's exactly what it's all about
    These images of vintage paper has my heart a flutter...and yes edge's...

    Here is a quote by Jude Hill the author of that I just love.

    "an edge is like a temporary point of reference that defines perception. and i love looking closer and noticing the next layer of definition that always presents some sort of dance celebrating the spaces between the beats of your heart. those repetitive breaks along the line, a broken chant of sure-ness. a pattern forming where nothing will begin to take shape." Jude Hill, Nov 08

  3. hmmmmmmm
    quiet pieces,
    mysterious fragments
    all natural and parted,
    stand on their own
    loving their exposure
    and open to my
    sense of their stories.

  4. mmm, I love aging yellows too. Great work Leslie. Have you seen Seth's Book pieces with delicious raw edges?

  5. Gorgeous. I love yellow and I love the first piece here with it's musical instructions stamped with the speed like a road sign. I am assuming this is from a piano roll box?

    Also love the two pieces new pieces in your side bar, especially the first one with that lovely lace tracery.

  6. Hi Leslie,

    Im like the last one most. I think that the worn-ness(!) of paper offers more if it is in the form of an old letter for example, where it can offer more than just the age of the paper itself but a glimpse of a life within.

  7. I like edges too - I found a great tool to let me tear wonderful edges into paper and have been using it to make some ATCs from prepared paper.

  8. delicious old papers, Leslie....and being on the edge is delicious too...a new adventure. Old Books - foxed endpapers, jotted inscriptions...margin notes that tell more of the story....


  9. Kurt is one lucky fellow to be able to hang out with you. I think I'll have my foot incapacitated and you can come make art while I watch you work. Love all your new pieces, the vessels and the vintage collages. Great work.

  10. I really like these pieces very simple. I too like edges and things that are old and distressed.

  11. love the idea of a 'Book of Edges' - these are certainly wonderful first pages :)

  12. Leslie,

    Excellent work of synthesis.
    The collage appears here as a medium that enables the discovery of new structures and allows to overcome the constraints of a realistic approach.
    My sincere congratulations!

    José Brito

  13. I never work with frayed or worn edges, although I play with these things throughout my home. It is always the placing of one thing against something different that suddenly gives life to both. I've got to open my eyes a bit more.

    Lovely post. I love that teeny number 3.

  14. Spending your time with husband and creating quiet lovely pages!! I especially like the third one with what I imagine to be yellowing tape. You beautifully expressed your feelings about these materials and that sets the tone. I have been fascinated by thresholds as transition for years. "Parabola" devoted "Threshold" as subject in their 2000 edition Volume 25.

  15. A beautiful tribute to "yellowed emphemera" and edges, the places where things come together and change one another.

    These art pieces celebrate all that. And more.

  16. I love the simplicity of these images, very calming. Speaking of edges, it never ceases to amaze me the effect one colour can have on another when placed next to each other.

  17. my goodness...I thought I was looking at a Kurt Schwitter assemblage from back in the 40's or something.

    Grrl, you seriously have it goin on if you can produce stuff of this quality.

    And as for the borders of things quote... it's where the magic happens. US witches/artists have known that for ages...yeah!

  18. Leslie,
    I love the side-bar of all the studio things. Don't you just LOVE things??? I know I do! Do you know the quilt artist Joan Schulze? If not, check her work out. She lives in the SF Bay Area, has a studio in SF, and travels the world teaching. I think you would like her style. I bought her book and am impressed with what she does with her images, translating them to fabric. Her quilts are like collages except on fabric. I think she also does collages on paper too. In fact, she might have been in the collage show that you were in if my memory serves me right. I love your work. How does the weather look for next week? We arrive on Saturday in Seattle/Bellevue area.

  19. Leslie,
    Your images are exceptional! At once simple and exquisite. Your poetic discourse on edges was exactly what I needed today. The snychronistic gifts of bloggerdom never fail to amaze me!

  20. me too; great collages, nice quotes! Do you like the stains left by sloppy coffee cups on the counter?

  21. I love B & W: Yes, Jo’s quiet book is great eye candy!

    Reading sully2: Thank you!

    Zappha: Thanks. A diversion to make this.

    Jo: Great edge quote and blog recommendation. Thanks! And thanks for the inspiration too!

    Nancy: I love that “sense of their stories.”

    Robyn: I haven’t seen Seth’s book. I must find it.

    Annie: Yes, piano roll papers and old sheet music. Great stuff.

    Derrick: Hi!

    Ian: I enjoyed seeing your ATCs. Thanks for the link!

    Catherine: Yummy old books.

    Mary: Just come to visit and play in the studio; no incapacitated foot required!

    Karen; Me too.

    Jeane: Book of Edges was fun.

    Jose: Hi and thank you!

    Kim: I had a feeling of joy from that teeny number 3 as well.

    Mary Ann: My eye goes right to yellowed tape instantly. Thresholds would be a deep subject for contemplation.

    San: The beauty of slow change.

    Ro: Calming edges and the play of colors. Enjoyable indeed.

    Grrl: Magic at the borders. Fun.

    Teri: Yes! I LOVE interesting things. Yes I know of Joan’s work, which I really adore. Thanks. I got her book for Christmas last year. Weather is good fingers crossed.

    Marie: I’m glad you found what you needed here today. Thank you.

    Notmassproduced: Thank you!

    Tom: Yes! I love coffee cup stain marks. Like little islands….

  22. I came back to re-read, Leslie. My time was well spent.

  23. Like Jeane, my mind grasped the possibilities of a "Book of Edges." You described edges in such delicious detail, Leslie.

  24. Leslie, you paint beautifully with words too!
    We could have envisioned these beautiful pages even without seeing them.
    Perfect post!

  25. I love all these too - what a wonderful EXCITING post - love the images your words and most of all the connection that I felt with it all! Thank you so much Leslie for being so inspiring!

  26. Beautifully said and photographed. Edges and contrast are the doorways to inspiration.

  27. Beautifully written, Leslie. The impact of the music staff on the edge is exciting. Reading your thoughts and those quotes made it more so.

  28. I love edges, too. Without them, there wouldn't be the start of anything else.

  29. Ms. RR: Thank you!

    Barry: Well said!

    Shyla: Thank you so much. It is always nice to have you visit.

    Autumn: Oh yes, the start of something new. Thanks for visiting. I love your work and your blog.

  30. Cool blog! I love old paper too!


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