contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reading the Road Map

8 inch by 8 inch collage on paper

There is a richness to the process of sorting out where I have been and where I am going with my art. I’m settling in and starting to look forward to this process of considering what I have already done and where I might be going, although of course I can’t see around the bend in the road. As you can imagine I am writing a lot about my art – past and present. I’m collecting notes about my use of space, shapes, lines, gesture, marks, passages, color. I’m collecting what I have written about the meaning behind my work. I’m trying things out, and wondering what might happen. I’m thinking of my notes as my personal dictionary of symbols and imagery, a kind of road map. I find all kinds of art from my previous efforts and I sit down and look at it in a new light. What is there that might still be interesting and useful?

And because I have a near constant need to create I am working with papers and paint in my artist book and on small collage. I am looking around me for marks and lines and textures, which are everywhere really. I have started a small collection near the entry door of my gatherings- a leaf or two, an interesting small rock, a feather. There is plenty of room for what ever else I might find. Photographically I have been gathering marks, numbers and textures.

My motivation is to be a better artist, and to work more authentically. I feel I have been authentic, but there is always room to grow, find new avenues and create in ways I may not be able to imagine right now. I am having fun slowing down, pausing and looking around at where I might want to go.

I found an interesting list on an art educational site. It’s about learning to think like an artist. It is a fun list, and one that applies to a lot of the creative people in blogland I would guess. It sums up an attitude of curiosity, perseverance, and playfulness along with passion to work hard.

How to Think Like an Artist

looking at things more closely than most people do.
finding beauty in everyday things and situations.
making new connections between different things and ideas.
going beyond ordinary ways of thinking and doing things.
looking at things in different ways in order to generate new perspectives.
taking risks and exposing yourself to possible failure.
arranging things in new and interesting ways.
working hard and at the edge of your potential.
persisting where others may give up.
concentrating your effort and attention for long periods of time.
dreaming and fantasizing about things.
using old ideas to create new ideas and ways of seeing things.
doing something simply because it's interesting and personally challenging to do.


  1. Love the piece with the two circles. It reminds me of looking out of plane windows. Thanks for posting the list. Think it just needs "have fun" added to the end of it!

  2. love how to live as an artist....I guess that goes for "Life" really
    I am interested in the fact that you take your "journey" in the arts with such considered thought.
    When I do that it is not necessarily a positive experienc, I guess I have to jump or I become inactive.
    Good wishes for your next bit.

  3. That list is a great catalyst if one is stuck or in a funk. I like the work in the photograph. Making marks is a great way to start.
    Thanks for the list. I might just print it off and put in a prominent place.

  4. i bought a little book at the getty about ten years ago to use in my classroom with 2nd graders. it's lovely and tells us we're just that, artists when we notice. "I AM AN ARTIST" by pat lowery collins and illustrated by robin brickman beautifully. i'll post some of the lines, as you have, which inspire me, as you have. like:"i am an artist when i notice that the sea is a mirror for the sky and when i make something from the things i collect." thanks for the reminders!! neva

  5. Amazing use of yelows and browns - like your use of circles - yu also write and express - wondeful post.

  6. I so look forward to your posts on this blog. The paintings and collages are always wonderful and your writing is always thoughtful and insightful.

  7. Hi Leslie,

    Glad you're still finding inspirational elements all around. I love your 'Sensitive to Light' WIP!

  8. You are doing all the right things as you strive to become a better artist and this is a great list on how to think like an artist.

  9. Annie - I am enjoying the open circle marks. And yes, “have fun!” is a definite “must add” to the list!

    Janette – “considered thought” is a new way for me. I am intuitive when I work. I’ll continue to work intuitively, but perhaps better informed from having taken the time to review my process.

    Sylvia – Thanks! I liked the list too, as a reminder and an affirmation of sorts.

    Nancy – Sounds like my kind of book! I’ll look forward to your post.

    John – Thanks. I’m drawn to earthy browns and hope to explore them more.

    Mary – Thank you. Ditto!

    Derrick – What a great blogging friend you are! Thanks for visiting.

  10. I just went and looked at nancy's blog - the list she has there is touching. It makes me remember that my Mom was the first artist I knew and that she taught me to "see". Thanks Nancy!

  11. your collage feels like autumn which is right on our heels - sounds like you are working through alot of stuff and finding the way very informative :)

  12. Hi Jeane - Autumn is approaching - yellow leaves falling, spinning...I hope we get some nice sunny days yet before the gray mists settle in for the duration....Yes I am working at this, but it is pleasant work.

  13. I love to find something useful in a piece of art I've virtually written off. Something I can salvage and use to boost another piece. I'll be watching your work in progress, Sensitive to Light, It's very beautiful.

  14. Leslie -- a very thought-provoking entry. I like that you take the time to re-assess and gather your thoughts and previous works to see how they may help you navigate in the coming weeks. Symbolically, your "entry collection" is another interesting aspect of the process -- that as you enter your creative space, you have gathered talismans on the threshold to the creative space. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Great list, Leslie. I'm copying it into my own journal, as well as Nancy's list. Good thoughts to end the summer.

  16. Leslie

    I love the painting and am intrigued to see how the photo might end up as well. An interesting study of lines and marks.

    Thanks for reproducing the list - if we could do even half of those things consistently, our art would improve by leaps and bounds!

  17. Creating your own personal map, finding your way and gathering the beautiful "things" at your threshold...all rich experiences and must lead to fresh new visions. I so like your "sensitive to light" and feel your next work will express a deeper expression. Thank you for these important artist reminder lists...we forget so easily.

  18. i love this list and a few things might apply to me in a non-creative life issue just now such as not giving up. grrr. I love the way you can articulate your processes and thoughts around art and I too love your little inspiration stash from nature. thank you, Suki

  19. That pursuit of what's 'round the bend',,,,,,always the allure;
    the siren.
    This piece is a wonderful journey!

  20. interesting post and i do love that little collage.

  21. Wonderful piece, thought provoking list, and quite an interesting road map that is sure to take you where you want to go!

  22. Hello Leslie,

    Hope evrything is fine with you and your family.
    It is a work of the painter Josep Niebla. He has a foundation with his name (Fundació Niebla - where he is exposing.
    It’s this foundation that on September 19th I will open my exhibition.
    Congratulations for your work that remains in good shape.
    Always well built and with a balanced and inspiring palette.

    Yours, José Brito


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