contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Studio Space

Untitled Collage, 6 inches by 6 inches, by Leslie Avon Miller

I think of my studio as a vegetable garden, where things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. You have to graft. You have to water.

~Joan Miro

Some more progress has been made in the last two weeks on my studio space. Although the physical progress is small, we continue to work on the logistics of the process – who, when and how being our primary questions.

We unloaded two pick up truck loads of sheeting. That’s 72 sheets of wood; 72 trips up and down the stairs. Can you see my biceps flex? Me neither, but I feel powerful having helped with that task! This material (called OSB) will be used for walls and ceiling. The equipment that will assist with this material installation, called a sheet rock lift, has been delivered and assembled.

I appreciate all the good wishes for a quick finish to the studio, but since we only work on this project weekends and we take some weekends off to do other things, I suspect the earliest the studio will be finished enough to move in will be late summer or early fall.

As the project unfolds, I’ll post a few photos. Today’s image is from a couple of years ago when the building was first constructed. My studio is the top floor, this end. Kurt’s woodworking space is on the top floor of this building at the other end.

I added some links to artist studios on my blog side bar. I love to see how other artists arrange and use their space.

It is my pleasure to share with you another art studio tour. This time we are visiting the studio of Rebecca Crowell. I have included here a video of Rebecca working in her studio. When I first saw this video, I knew we were kindred spirits when Rebecca pulled out her whisk broom and used it to create texture. I love to do that too!

It is also interesting to me that Rebecca’s studio and mine are similar in a couple of ways. They are separate buildings but just a short walk away from the house, and they are nearly the same size. We both live in the country and have views of nature out the windows.

Rebecca tells us I love my studio and want to be there almost every day-- and sometimes even in the middle of the night. I am fortunate to be able to work full time as a painter, so I spend a lot of time there.

It's kind of shockingly messy and disorganized to anyone else's eye--although for me it's fine, it's comfortable. (It is a mystery to me why a messy studio is OK with me when I like my house to be neat.) When I'm working I leave a trail of stuff everywhere, and usually have no interest in picking it up.

I have a lot of work in progress at any one time; piles of panels, stuff scattered on various tables and stacked along the walls. I feel engaged as soon as I walk in, so I guess there is some energy in the disorder.

What works best for you about your current studio space?

It's large (about 850 sq. ft.) and well lit with daylight fluorescents. There is one long open wall that I can spread my work in progress out across, then I can back way up for the long view. It's a separate space from the house, but close enough (just across the back yard) to be there in no time at all. We live in the country so there is beauty all around, including a sweet little rock garden just outside the studio door.

What one thing would you change about your current studio space?

I'm going to say two things, because one is already in the works--which is better heat. For over 20 years I've relied on a wood stove in the studio that has to be constantly fed in winter, and it takes quite a while to heat up the space to a comfortable warmth. However, the studio was built with coils for hot water in the cement slab floor...we have not had the resources so far to get the whole system going (which includes a wood-fired outside boiler.) BUT that is going to happen in 2010, or I'm moving to Arizona!

The other thing I would like are proper storage racks for older work--right now it's all just stacked and piled in the back of the studio.

The studio is no more or no less sacred than any other place where people work at what they love. But it is certainly more private than many. My studio feels uniquely mine--coming in to the studio does trigger a shift in awareness towards what I think of as my true, inner self. When other people come into the studio, I am happy to have them yet I do feel slightly nervous and over-exposed.

Rebecca's web site has more information about her work, and her blog has even more images of her studio.


  1. thank you, always, so rewarding here.

    whisk brooms and trails of stuff as work progresses.

  2. Nice post! I am so jealous I would love to have a real
    studio and paint full time. I would love to have a barn studio in the country. Right now I am working in a spare bedroom at least it has heat though :) Whenever my daughter comes to visit (seems like every two weeks). I have to put everything away. I can't wait to see your finished studio. Becareful with the drywall make sure it isn't the one from china. People in Florida have had a bad time with that stuff!

  3. I love Rebecca's work so it was extra nice to see the video and here more about her space. Looking forward to seeing yours as well as it progresses.

  4. It's a real treat to build your own studio from scratch! Both my wife and I were fortunate enough to do this about 10 years ago. But be forewarned - no matter how much you plan and how much better it is than what you had before, after some time, you'll wish you had more space!

    Maybe you could convince Kurt to take the downstairs - looks like he might have to crouch a bit...

  5. Forgive me if I'm a little off topic, I'll say something about studio space later but i just have to comment on the Untitled Collage, 6 inches by 6 inches at the top of this post. I love it! Says so much in such a small space.

  6. Aahhhh .... I love coming here!
    Many things to love. Your collage, your amazing studio and Rebecca Cowell's work. I enjoyed the video and then flew off to look at Rebecca's wonderful work and blog.....where I wallowed for ....maybe an hour.... or more.

  7. You have put me through a whole range of emotions here Leslie,admiration for your wonderful collage, envy of your magnificent studio and delight at the video giving me an insight into the methods thoughts of Rebecca. Thank you very much.

  8. Thank you for sharing this and making us aware of Rebecca, I'll visit her blog. I'm looking forward to seeing your studio.

  9. Thanks for sharing your studio progress - looks exciting, and for sharing Rebecca Crowell. I love the yellow in this collage.

  10. leslie . making progress on your space .exciting . i believe we fancied the same yellows paper . your collage work is such inspiration . elk

  11. loved the video, Rebecca's work is awesome and it was great to see her studio. thank you for this, and how exciting to look forward to your studio space!

  12. i like your new stands out as different. feels like handmade paper.

  13. What a wonderful studio project!
    And thank you for the introduction to Rebecca's work...gorgeous, they seem to glow from within.

  14. Leslie, you're doing a great service to other artists with these studio tour interviews. Thank you very much. I loved it!

  15. Leslie,

    Thank you once again for some delicious online 'food for the soul'. It is a real treat to start the working week seeing your new work, the video on Rebecca and seeing how your studio has been built. Also funny to discover the panel format Rebecca is using for some of her paintings, especially because I am quite fond of working in this format making my quilts at the moment.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Regina, SXM

  16. thank you for the studio tour and the video, amazing. great to view. best to you with your new studio. love your collage, as always, just wonderful.
    thank you.

  17. This was a great post...loved seeing the beginnings of your studio...such joy you will have in this space! I'm familiar with Rebecca's work and studio so I'm going to the sidebar to visit artists you have listed.
    I also read your interview at "Created By Hand" on your's been a great visit.

  18. The collage is lovely. Amazing to watch the visual record of your studio go up. Its unbelievable to have a studio built like that for you, very lucky indeed. Look forward to see it finished.

  19. WOW!! I didn't know it was going to be a separate building. It's bigger than my house! What a wonderful project. I'm stunned. Can't wait to see how it progresses.

  20. Neva – the trails we create as we process are so interesting.

    Michelle – Oh, I do understand studio envy! And jealousy of painting full time! The trick, I think, is to fall in love with our creativity so that it pulls us forward despite our studio situation….and thanks for the dry wall tip!

    Seth – Thanks! Good to see you.

    Bob – Oh, I know! I could already use more room – or less equipment!

    Stan – So nice to have you stop by. The topic of collage is always okay here. Thanks so very much! And to anyone reading this I do recommend Stan’s blog. He is a fabulous painter!

    Robyn – Yes, isn’t Rebecca’s work something wonderful? I love the textures – and she is on facebook!

    Ian – I would think Rebecca’s work would resonate for you too. It certainly does for me. Oh, I know studio envy. I know because I have had it too!

    Ro – Thanks and nice to see you. The studio is a work in progress.

    Dofishes – Thank you the yellow just wanted to be there.

    ELK – Collage works for me now – small space = small works. The yellow may be about spring.

    LDV – Yes, it’s a fun video – I’d like to peek at lots of artists while they work.

    Hi Paula – Thank you. It is mainly tissue paper, but it goes through many phases to get to this place.

    M. Heart – Hi! Nice to see you! Her work does glow. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Shayla – Thank you. I’m enjoying the tours. I hope to do more!

    Regina – I see the connection. Quilting and panels both being blocks, or shapes – good point!

    Mary Ann – Oh, the side bar artists – yummy stuff!

    Judy – Yes, lucky, blessed and I am appreciative too! I feel very fortunate.

    Annie – Yes, I have lived in smaller houses too! I feel very fortunate. Come visit when its done. We can have a studio warming party. That would be fun!

  21. This looks like a marvelous space Leslie. I have been a fan of Rebecca's work for ages as well. I think I will go out and get a lottery ticket so I can build a nice space like this. : )

  22. Hi Z - yes, it is turning into a marvelous space. I wish you all the best with the lottery ticket!

  23. Hi Leslie - I hope your studio magically completes itself while you are sleeping so you wake to find it ready and waiting for you. Good luck with it!

    Thanks so much for posting the Rebecca Crowell video. It was great to hear her speak about her work and watch her make it come alive.

  24. I too loved the studio visits. We've been building my studio, (also a separate building in the country), for 6 years now, one weekend at a time. It's not as large as yours, 16' x 24' with a 10' covered porch on the front, but it is almost ready to move in to. We used OSB for the walls too, and while it's going to be great for really strong walls that will hold heavy stuff it does soak up the paint ... and a roller just doesn't work well! Still there are only two sections that still need a top coat, and the left over OSB will make wonderful studio shelves and other furniture. I am having such a hard time being patient now that it's this close!
    Thanks for such a great blog Leslie. I am enjoying my visits.

  25. HI Nancy - Instant studio - wouldn't that be fabulous! I'm glad you enjoyed Rebecca's video. I love her rich layers.

    HI Nikki - Thanks for the tips. We plan to spray the paint on - and I guess the money we saved not buying drywall can go for extra primer! I hope you get to move in soon. I would love to see your studio.

  26. Your posts are taking me back to when my studio was being built. We also live in a wooded area; my studio space is built above my husband's garage/shop beyond our house. In the initial stages, my space did not have the windows that I wanted and so we compromised on a double sky light which I now love. My studio has been what I absolutely needed in this stage of my life, solitude, independence and a spiritual "nest".
    If the question is what would I change or add, I would not hesitate to ask for more storage space! It is amazing how much you can accumulate. There are so many loves!!!!

  27. Hi Marie "My studio has been what I absolutely needed in this stage of my life, solitude, independence and a spiritual "nest". That sounds like heaven on earth! Interesting that it means so much at this stage of life. I wanted a studio more than trips around the world, not that I wouldn't love both of course! But the studio will be daily.

  28. This collage is my newest favorite, Leslie! Perfection!
    Wonderfully interesting post,,I love Rebecca's work, and love this video. Thank you!

  29. wonderful video and intro to this artist new to me. loved seeing her studio and the way she removes a section of one painting and tries it out on another.

    hurrah for your progress w/your studio.

    lovely painting.

  30. Babs: I like this one too. It fell together so easily. I'm glad you enjoyed Rebecca's video. I did too.

    Hi Suki: It is always a treat to discover an artist. Thanks.

  31. Thank you, Leslie, for the amazing post! I love your collage and your studio too!

  32. what a wonderful glimpse into the studio and thinking of a full time working artist-- who is also a very good artist-- had to smile at her comments about how messy she gets when she is working-- leaving a trail of stuff in her wake-- I work the same way-- making a mess as I go along. love your current pieces as well.

  33. I love Rebecca Crowell...amazing process and relentless work ethic!
    Thank you, Leslie, for spotlighting her on your blog. It takes a wonderful woman to host a wonderful woman.

  34. Hi,
    My first time on your blog (I think. Perhaps one a long time ago?). LOVE your work. Marvelous.
    How ironic that I just visited your blog today, and here is a post about Rebecca Crowell...whom I just found out about recently, and will be taking a workshop from this spring!

  35. I just read all the comments so far--thank you so much Leslie, for connecting me with all these new people and a few who have been following my work for awhile. It was great to read all of their remarks. And I agree with all those who are enjoying this series on your blog--I look forward to reading about the other artists you feature. Best wishes for your beautiful studio as it progresses.

  36. Ahhh...the dream studio...well, for me it's gotta to be Teesha Moores...
    Wishing you all the luck in the world for your new studio and, although I can't view the video yet (it's 12am) coz I'm so tired, I'll be sure to view it tomorrow.

  37. Leslie, your studio is looking magnificient with all of it's bones exposed. And I love Rebecca's work. roxanne

  38. Can't believe i haven't been to visit your blog for such a while. I love the gold in the collage. Is this part of the collage gathering and show in Australia? The studio looks fabulous...if I were the jealous type, I'd be green with envy.

    Rebecca Crowell was a gift in this post. Loved seeing her video, so well done. Like how the paintings are built of panels, the one changing out to find a place in another grouping. Nice textures and colors. All entertainment for my Friday evening "let's see what's happening."

    Thanks so much!

  39. What a lovely and elegant blog you have! Thanks for your kind comment on mine too.


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