contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Art of Handmade Artist Books – Part Two

"Each friend represents a world in us,
a world possibly not born until they arrive,
and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

- Anais Nin

My friend Rita and I began an exchange of art on a monthly basis several years ago. We create art and exchange it, along with a letter of thoughts and happenings, poetry and quotes, and inclusions of interest. Each exchange becomes a page in on-going volumes of hand bound books. In the autumn of the year we also exchange a hand-made artist book. The editions are of two – one to keep and one to give. The world created by our exchange has enriched and expanded my life. There is an invisible path worn down between my mail box in the West and hers near the Great Lakes. Although we have never met face to face, we are the best of friends.

This year the book theme was completely open. I made my books from the papers I create when transferring paint on and off of paintings. Although at the beginning the transfers are created from totally random marks and shapes, once the paper begins to appear interesting I am more selective, and tend to the final stages with deliberate action. The Zen like quality of the marks, the quiet colors and peacefulness of the tissue pages on print making paper appeal to me. I look inward to find what will become my art. This book celebrates the new sense of freedom and authenticity I am experiencing in my work. The quietness allows me to hear my own heartbeat. I am trying to think less, and work more in tandem with the art that appears. These books have allowed me to experiment, and to push the quiet even further.

The title of my book is Stillness. I love stillness. I often work in the studio in outward silence, although I am always responding to what is happening on the surface in front of me, listening for what the work has to say. For me, stillness is about clarity, focus and purpose. It is a place from which I can create. In a bit of artistic license, I attached a very small Japanese bell to the outside of each book – a tiny single note of sound calling attention to the Stillness I suppose.

The technical parts of the books are a side stab binding of the soft pages made of tissue, BFK Rives print making paper, and a Japanese paper. The housing is a removable portfolio cover made of mat board, a commercial black paper and more tissue paper. The closure is a black cord with knots and bell.

Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.
Stillness Speaks.

Echart Tolle


  1. soul and senses take
    in the exquisiteness of
    each particle here

  2. The soft touches of life and friendship.

  3. The quietness is washing over me as I read this post. There is a sacredness about your book ..... I sense the creative spirit and the stillness that brought it to fruition.

  4. Your book looks exquisite and has put me in a wonderfully peaceful state at the start of the day, and the little bell is a masterstroke.
    I hope you will show us Rita's book when you have it.

  5. Your lines remind me of musical phrases that arise from silence and then retreat to it again.

  6. Your skill, sense of caring and the beauty of your work are exceptional and the Zen like quality can be felt even through this strange medium we are using.

    It certainly reached me.

  7. These books are lovely, so are your thoughts. What a special friendship with Rita, too. As always: you've inspired me!

  8. The world outside my window this morning is the perfect setting in which to read your post. Stillness pervades as the snow falls gently. Your artist book is exquisitely quiet and soulful and the bell adds just the right touch. How lucky Rita is to receive this gift and you to receive hers. I love the idea of having this kind of exchange.

  9. The book is a meditation, thanks so much for sharing.


  10. what a lovely exchange and a gorgeous book...

  11. Hi Leslie,

    Yes, your book looks as if it should hold ancient wisdoms and I'm sure it does if we can look deeply enough.

  12. Since finding your blog I have always felt the strong eastern influence of your work. These little books are too gorgeous for words (inwardly I am lusting after them!) and your writing is like a Zen Dharma talk.

    Do you know a book called the Zen of Creativity by the late Zen master, John Daido Loori? If not, I have a feeling what he says about the creative process might really appeal to you!

    The quote on friendship was one of the nicest I've ever seen. Thanks for your work and your blog. Keep on inspiring us!

  13. what beautifully crafted books Leslie :)

  14. These books are beautiful but the friendship behind the making of them, is the most beautiful.

  15. These beautiful books made me feel so calm and happy after a busy day writing. Thanks for showing them - and I love the way you 'create' paper backgrounds. I have lots of baking parchment papers like that and intend to experiment with them at some time.

  16. beautiful post Leslie-- love that top quote on friendship-- this is exactly how I feel about our growing friendship. and those little Japanese bells look so lovely in your beautiful book.

  17. What a treat to catch up with your posts after being away. Your work and writing are, as always, just impeccable.( I really don't like the overused and badly applied word "awesome", but your book truly is awe inspiring.
    Thanks for sharing the handmade artist books links...I'm really looking forward to each one.
    I'm liking the snowflakes? or falling stars? on your blog.

  18. This book is just beautiful as is your friendship and artistic exchange. I love Japanese Stab binding. For my awkward hands, it is the easiest type of binding. Neat and simple. love the snow!

  19. A wonderful practice you describe, the exchange of art is such an intimate dialogue to engage in - and with someone you've never met!.

    Though it comes from a place of silence and stillness, your art speaks volumes.

    I enjoyed seeing how your work takes form in a book.

  20. These books are little gems and I can see this ongoing collaboration is quite special. There is definitely a sense of stillness captured in the books as well as in your post!

  21. beautiful to see the papers become covers on your books.
    I love how your process and collaboration speaks of the senses, of touch and sharing and exchange and beauty.

  22. You have created such a wonderful treasure. Visualy pleasing and so wonderfully described!

  23. Thank you so much, every word pleased me! You feed my soul again!

  24. Nancy – I love the way you can create Haiku to leave as a gift for us to read. Many thanks!

    Katelen – Thank you. Softness is a good word for friendship.

    Robyn – Sending some stillness to you, along with peace and safety, dear friend.

    Ian – Actually Rita’s book is featured in the post preceding this one. I’m sorry; I should have said that.

    Annie – Oh, that’s great! Quiet…music…quiet. Book ends.

    Barry – Blogging is a strange medium. But then, that’s how we are meeting so many like minded folks. Thank you.

    Jane – Inspiration – it’s a beautiful aspect of blogging and it goes both ways.

    Margaret – It is an exchange that has grown in richness over time. Snow is an epitome of stillness isn’t it?

    Corriene – The completed piece does become a meditation. Making it is a “problem solving” meditation!

    Caterina – Thank you. It’s an annual event which I truly enjoy.

    Derrick – Hi! Such a great blogger friend you are. I’m on my way over to your blog now.

    ZDStudio – Oh, Art Lust! I know it well! I’ll take that as a complement, thank you! I don’t know the book by Loori – it is something I will explore. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Jeane – Burr is it C-O-L-D or what!

    Zappha – I so agree. I’m not surprised you are sensitive to friendships; I’m sure you are a beautiful friend as well. ;o)

    Ann – I think you would enjoy creating papers – it’s so much fun!

    Hi Donna – Thank you for the perfect bells from Kyoto, and thank you for your friendship. It does open up a unique world of it’s own beauty doesn’t it?

    Marie – Yes – snowflakes. Blog snow is lovely, and causes no one any difficulty. I love the idea of falling stars. I see a midnight blue blog background with the falling stars…how perfect.

    Suki – I so agree with you! I try to keep my book structures simple, so I can focus on the content and the design. I’m not one for engineering a book. My hands like simple too.

    Bob – Thanks. Over years of exchanging much is shared, and the friendship becomes a real treasure.

    Seth – Ah, success if you see stillness in the books. Thank you.

    JGY – I just found your works on paper blog – Fabulous! I’m so glad to see your work! I love the tactile part of making art. I often just stop and run my hands over the work. It gives me a different kind of read than my eyes do.

  25. Dori - So great to hear from you! I must pop over to your blog and see what you are up to!

    Lisa - Thank you. I've had a look at your ICE collages and I'm crossing my fingers I get one in the Exchange!

  26. What a peaceful rhythm you have to your writing. I feel grounded again after a hard day.

    This ritual you have with your friend is touching. Thanks for sharing it and for showing your beautiful books.

  27. Please forgive my briefness, however I am in complete awe as to your book. I have a new and completely different appreciation for your artwork.

    Warmest regards this holiday season,

  28. Hi Leslie - how totally inspiring! Your book of stillness is perfect! Wierdly and coincidentally, my friend Alica from Altered Bit's and I have begun talking about a similar exchange...and lo, here you are writing about the magic of your experiences. We really must do it then. I'm going to direct her to this beautiful poosting of yours.

  29. Shayla - Looking at blogs can help ease a challenging day. I'm pleased this post worked for you.

    Egmont - Thank you. Warm regards to you as well. Artist books are a labor of love.

    Debrina - An exchange is a real gift. Thank you. I hope we get to peek at what you and Alica create and exchange!

  30. these are gorgeous books and the pages evoke calm
    i am always so inspired coming to your blog
    have a wonderful holiday!

  31. An Exquisite book that presents a stillness just in the looking.

  32. Wow! What else can I say but Thank You! I am in awe of your peaceful approach! Thank You!

  33. The work is staid and precious and I am drawn to how these pages are kissin cousins of your other work - the process tied to other creation.


  34. Stunning, these books!
    The cord with knots and the little bell are SO special!

  35. Hope I'm not too late to leave a comment...I could swear I did leave a comment? This book is beautiful, the delicate pages and the knots and bell are a true keepsake. Wonderful friendship you two have created!

  36. Such a rich friendship--I love your mention of the "invisible paths." That evokes paths between hearts, well-worn paths, marked by shared creative expression. Lovely, as is the book pictured here.

  37. What an amazing blog, I came over from Jo Horswells blog and there are so many familiar faces here commenting. I adore your artwork and the book here is stunning. How lovely to have such a wonderful and inspiring friendship.

  38. What a beautiful book. It reminds me of the monks in Japan who stand very quietly in the streets and who occasionally ring their tiny bells. Thank you so much for your kind wishes too.

  39. Dear Leslie,
    Good morning and good health. The terms of the artist who created are a marvel. Continuing its own work. Congratulations. I had to work but whenever I see your blog, the work presented here will have great quality.
    I also take classes in English but is more difficult than I expected.
    I am preparing an exhibition in April, Venezuela, and in September in Brazil.
    Although not photographed any work exposure is well advanced. I wanted to see if there in March to invite a photographer to make images as my camera has great quality, not to Photographer to speak ...
    In Brazil, the Foundation where I will expose, will offer the book of the exhibition.
    Let's see what happens in the New Year.
    But I take to wishing you and the whole family a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year .

  40. am reading and luxuriating in your post as the stillness of dawn reaches up to a cold quiet almost winter sky...push the stillness - a lovely gift.

  41. The book is a beauty. Simple yet invites us in- perchance to touch.

  42. It's been awhile since I've visited your blog.A big mistake for me as your words and beautiful creations would have created a calm space in the busy schedule I've been keeping. I will try to remember to check in more often and breath it all in.You are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing with us.

  43. Happy Merry Christmas to you and your family Leslie - hope your New Year will be the best ever : )
    I am new to your blog and I love it very much. Your beautiful art and words are so inspiring, I have and will visit often - thank you : )
    Blessings, Sandra in AZ

  44. Lesile,
    Health to you and to all his family.
    I hope you had a Merry Christmas. The New Year will be very successful.
    Thank you for your kind words.
    I hope your husband has already completed the work of his office.
    I miss her paintings. They cheer me, enchants me ... are very inspiring to me.
    My English is very slow, more than my own will.
    Spanish also learned a little, though with difficulty, to give when I go to spain or get friends Spaniards.
    January 28, at the invitation of a friend, I'll move me to the Miró Foundation
    Miró, among the Spanish painters, me encanta the problems that always knew the painting and place, chiefly because of its minimal sense.
    Then give news!
    The book of the exhibition do not worry. I send by mail to you. Just at that moment I give the address where to send. It will be for me a great pleasure.
    Greetings to the husband.
    A Good Year with health, peace, joy, love and lots of painting.

  45. Hello Leslie,
    I love the ide of hand made books...those are just so specials and beautiful!
    With lots of love
    Magdalena/Color Sepia

  46. Stillness - in the real world
    and in your exquisite book is something to be treasured.
    I love how you use the by-products of your paintings to make something rich and very lovely.
    All best wishes for a wonderful new year.
    Buster sends his best too!

  47. wishing you a beautiful new year filled with new textures and amazing hand made books... roxanne

  48. Warmest, woolly wishes for a wonderful new decade, dear Leslie! xx

  49. Beautiful inspiring work. I like the idea of 'stillness', though the work speaks out to me.

  50. Bello post....Happy new year Leslie !!

  51. Thank you everyone. Wishing you all a happy and fresh new year!

  52. Hi Leslie,
    How I inhale your stillness, your freedom of expression, the beautiful quotes, your beautiful soul.


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