contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Fresh New Year of Art and Exploration

Don’t you love the freshness of a New Year full of potential? I do! I have my pile of books, I have time and I have all the ideas that have been incubating and collecting in my notebooks while I celebrated the holidays with friends and family.

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day,
a fresh try, one more start,
with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
~JB Priestley

Some fresh new exploring is in order. I want to explore collections – my own, and ones I have been gifted. I’ve always been one to walk looking down at the ground and picking up seed pods, feathers, lichens and such. I collect shells, rocks and miscellaneous finds from the beach. I like vintage white buttons, clasps and fasteners; the older the better.

Having been gifted a few brass bells, I add to my collection when just the right find comes my way. A vintage desk bell is my newest addition, having arrived in my Christmas Stocking. I wonder what kind of business it served in it’s former life, announcing the arrival of a new customer?

I am collecting beautiful objects. A pair of shoes. Some glasses.
Telephone. Typewritter.
…Their delicate and finished appearance is friendly.
And they are quiet.
~From the movie The Science of Sleep

Books have always called my name. “Come look!” they say from their shelf. So I am especially enjoying the book Etcetera, by Sibella Court. You might have read the recommendation about this book at Donna’s blog or at Ro’s blog. It’s full of yummy photography of all kinds of collections displayed in interesting ways. Being freshly inspired, I am starting a new collection of photographs of my collections.

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen
from one to another mind.
~James Russell Lowell

My pile of fresh new books includes one about working intuitively in the studio. A suggested exercise using a burning candle to “paint” with smoke has caught my eye and my imagination. How fun! What a great color!

I’m inspired by a book of interviews of artists in New Mexico and peeks into their studio spaces. My own studio remains unfinished, but the insulation is here and will be installed in the ceiling soon. I am looking forward to the added warmth! It’s time to think about the finishing touches and final arrangement of equipment and working spaces.

Books are not made for furniture,
but there is nothing else that
so beautifully furnishes a house.
~Henry Ward Beecher

For rich images and insight into process, I am reading Histories Real and Imagined. It is a detailed look into Lissa Hunter’s body of work as a “basket maker” and assemblage artist. I love her work which incorporates natural objects such as rocks, mark making, and objects she has made. I’m looking forward to finding a cozy spot and flipping through the pages at a leisurely pace.

I love her because she makes things.
You know? She makes things with her hands.
~From the movie The Science of Sleep

It’s time now to begin on a series of collage for the International Collage Exchange. I enjoy the process of making 13 or so collage. Having a due date is motivating and I always learn a lot as I work my way through the series. Then there is the fun of sending them off to the world, and seeing a return package come to my mail box, plump with collage from artists all around the globe. This year my series will revolve around mark making.

Re-Fresh Your Creative Practice is a new coaching group I developed for artists which is beginning soon. You can read more about here.

A friendly hello to all the new followers. It is my pleasure to meet you! It’s deliciously pleasant looking forward to this Fresh New Year, with time in the studio and time creating. Happy Fresh New Year to you all!


  1. Dear Leslie,

    First off I love the metallic masthead and for the rest of your post, the quotes are marvelous, as I am in love with books.

    It feels like 2010 is starting out real good!

    Thank you for sharing,

  2. This is yet another thoughtful post! Crazy about the quotes, book titles, and your ideas and thoughts for this new 2010. What really strikes my heart are these new pieces...header, and the three featured in the the mark making!

  3. I love the three pieces you have posted here, particularly the dancing calligraphic marks on the second one. And I love the quote about the bees and the pollen. Happy New Year!

  4. Though I have never been, the first painting makes me think of from my grandparents treks there I suppose :)

    and now I think I am going to have to make it a priority to see a certain movie...what great quotes!

    Happy New Year!

  5. thank you for all those lovely images and quotes..

  6. More wonderful images. I'm looking forward to seeing how you develop the candle smoke. I'm glad you're enjoying Sibella's book, it lives on my bedside table. Thank you for the link too. Have a very Happy, Healthy and art filled 2010

  7. This post has such a serene feel to it and yet my heart is racing. I'm so inspired! I love your paintings especially the first .... no the second .... no the first ... ah well you know how I feel about your work. The books, the quotes and the collections are divine. Loving this post!!! I am ready to start this year afresh. To my very special life coach, everything of the best for 2010 and thank you, Leslie!

  8. A beautiful and thoughtful post with wonderful images. What an excellent way to start the year.

  9. My head is also full of possibilities for the new year. Your post has added to these feelings. It's exciting to have access to so many other artists who are organizing to create just as I am. I Love the stack of books and I've wanted some new references.

  10. exactly!! the 'call' of freshness ... such an invigorating word, yet calming at the same time. 2010~~fresh starts, freshening continuations:
    and i must say, in retrospect of the last year, i feel that sense when i realize where i was just last march, when i began blogging, and some of your early comments were SO helpful. as have been your postings. always informative and encouraging, and very appreciated.thank you for your continued visits.
    all the best in "fresh"to you this decade. neva

  11. Generous and thought out - love the first image which my first impression was of one loves another carvings in a weathered oak. Here is to 2010!

  12. Thank you for the endless inspiration: painting with SMOKE really caught my eye. After a day of collage with friend, 2 mediocre pieces later, I have a much greater appreciation to your work. Cheers to another creative year.

  13. great post, thoughtful and visually gorgeous. rethinking all of my collections and starting fresh this year, clearing out and making new choices. 2010 awaits our mark!

  14. Thank you Leslie for your awesome post, I am too far down the list to come up with anything original, the quotes are thought provoking, your images inspirational and your book pile will give some interesting research to do. I was given the Dean Nimmer book at Christmas and was much taken with the idea of 'smoke painting' but you have beaten me to it. As I read your blog there are so many things that I want to try but I have come late to this 'art' thing and I have not enough time left to master everything, I will just have to do the best I can.
    I wish you a wonderful 2010 and look forward to reading many more of your blogs.

  15. Looks like you've been stocking up on inspirational things and thoughts. I love nothing better than a nice stack of books like the one you've shown of works I haven't gotten to yet, but can't wait for. I'm not a "one book at a time" kind of person either!

  16. Incredible images, love the marks. Thank you for the post.

  17. Every time I click on your blog and see your work, I hear a voice inside my head saying, "Ohhhhh, how beautiful..."

    Your work is wonnnnderful.

    Happy Fresh New Year to you...!


  18. fresh is a wonderful word for the New Year! sounds like you have your boat lined up and ready to embark on a wonderful creative journey - the images of your work are wonderful - are they details or pieces in themselves? journey on girl! :)

  19. Love the post Leslie! The quotes, the images, your work..... all inspiring!!
    Happy 2010!

  20. I love this very inspirational post for starting a new and creative year. Your images are lovely, too.

  21. your post is an aesthetic experience in itself, in the way you put it together with the quote and links, all of which are fascinating. And snippets of your paintings. Love the stack of books, the lovely views of your collections and everything really. Have a wonderfully creative year and hope you can be working in your new studio soon.

  22. Books and bells,
    Great way to ring in the NewYear!
    A happy new year to you!
    I liked that movie, too The Science of Sleep and the way they made all those toys and dreamy things...

  23. I love the new images. There is something so wonderful and earthy and you about them! And what a fabulous stack of books. I am looking forward to hearing about the "Intuitive Art" one

    Such a magical, inspiring, life filled blog!

  24. Loving the new pieces (and banner) you've posted here,,they are always so intriguing.
    Interesting that I see some books in your stack that are also in mine.
    That collage exchange sounds really fun!
    Fresh new year,,,isn't that great!!
    Oh, and I love your new bell.

  25. Enjoy those books. There's nothing more exciting and promising than a stack of new books.

    I've enjoyed and been inspired by reading your blog this year. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and artwork with us.

    Have a wonderful and creative 2010!

  26. Happy New Year, Leslie. Love the mark making, the new bell, and the quotes make this a post to come back to for more research. Thank you for your light!

  27. Inspirational post; Wishing you all the best for 2010!

  28. Hello Leslie, that quote about books by Beecher expresses it so well. There's a cosy feeling about stacks of books to dig into. That international collage event sounds exciting. What a great project.

  29. Hi, Leslie. It's good to read your posts again. This one is sooo juicy!

    Thank you for the inspiration. I absolutely love books, and will check out the ones you suggest. Thanks also for the lovely collections and the art. You are such a spirit of light and being!

    Peace and Blessings for this new year.

  30. Leslie, I have a vintage desk bell that I like to ring when I get a new idea! It's so much fun. Yours is beautiful!

  31. A perfect post to start out the new year. Very inspiring. And the details of your artwork are extraordinary!

  32. Happy new year Leslie! I have so enjoyed reading and being inspired by your blog this past year.

    I love books too. I read a quote somewhere that said something like-A house without books, is a home without a soul. Not sure if that's word perfect or where it came from, but I was in total agreement!

    Looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful and inspiring work unfold this year.

  33. ps

    i sent you an email in response to your last comment on my pages
    maybe it's trapped in the spam net?
    look for something from 'forest dweller'...offered to send you a scrap of fabric but needed a postal address.

  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  35. Hi Leslie and Happy New Year!

    I see you have plenty of inspiration lined up! I love the pic you've used for the header; looks like an old x-ray or negative to me.

    Have fun creating - and I hope you get the insulation installed in your studio soon!

  36. Oh! and I meant to say how much I liked the JB Priestley quote!

  37. what a fantastic post. i LOVE your three pieces, and thank you for the book recommendations. i received $100 for used books for a holiday gift and have been pondering what i should get. you've given me lots of ideas.

    irrelevantly, i bought "the science of sleep" the day it came out a year or two ago and i still haven't watched it. i anticipate it will be one of my favorite movies so have been prolonging the suspense. silly, i know.

  38. I enjoyed your very refreshing post!
    Your enthusiasm for the new year is contagious. Thanks for sharing the books. I have been "salivating" over Lynn Perrella's "Art Making Collections and Obsessions"! I am very much captivated by vintage collections and the character that seems to ooze out of them.
    Good luck with your new coaching group. It seems like the perfect place for you.

  39. Happy New Year to you too Leslie...another generous post full of great information! I havent heard of the book you refer too...will check it out.
    Jo xx

  40. Hi Leslie - what an inspiring posting! I LOVE books, that's why I qualified as a librarian! Books and blogs are my number one "inspiration station" (to quote Seth). I'm having to stick to libraries to get them this year though (no bad thing, lol!) - it just means I'll have to be patient about getting them, especially when they're popular. Well, thanks for being supportive about my bartering circle - I'm getting some interest from fellow artists and crafters which is so encouraging!
    Love your work (or is it play, Leslie?)!!

  41. I love the bell, the feather pen, the elegant things from the past. Thank you for a beautiful post.

  42. I love the marks on your works!

  43. I look forward to seeing your collages! Interesting post you've put togther for us, thanks!

  44. Hi Leslie:

    I am a bit late coming around -- but I just absolutely love this post. Thanks for sharing. the images are lovely, and can't wait to order the book Etcetera. Sometimes I feel guilty about my collections... what do they mean anyway. But felt so affirmed reading your blog today.

    many blessings for the New year. It has been such a joy getting to know you.

    here's my resolution (on my new blog: (see OUTSIDE THE BOX)

  45. there is always someone who is much more later - I'am a slow mover, but I know that my destiny will be great! Your new year seems to start hopefull and so really fresh! Wish you many sprinkling drops of joy, XXXd

  46. Hello everyone! I've been out of town, and I am getting ready for the Re-Fresh Your Creative Practice program starting next week. I appreciate all your thoughts on refreshment, collections, books and our creative tendencies to collect. It feels good to focus on creativity in many forms!

  47. A book quote to add to your collection, Leslie! --

    "When I get a little money, I buy books; if any is left, I buy food and clothes."
    Erasmus, 1466-1536

    Happy New Year!

  48. Just discovered your blog & I'm feeling really invigourated to read your post- not to mention I really love your work- you have posted here. Typography of any sort has me hooked. I know Lissa Hunters work through Robyn's blog & find her amazing. Thanx for this inspiring post!


Thank you for stopping by! Please sign the guest book and let me know what you think. Join the conversation. It's fun!