contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Collage Thoughts on the 12th International Collage Exchange

Collage is the twentieth century's greatest innovation.
~ Robert Motherwell

I love the art of collage. My own process of making collage is always evolving. I’m constantly exploring ways to alter papers, pushing composition, and trying different ideas.

One thing that is fairly constant in my process is to trust my instinct to tell me when the elements are just so.

Of late I have been laying papers on the support, arranging and rearranging, then pondering. Often I decide to remove something from the composition.

When I think I’ve got it I lay a piece of glass on top of the collage which flattens the whole composition so I can step back and take a good long look. Sometimes I just know the work is complete and other times I run a mental check list of elements and principals of design.

For me, the enjoyment is all about the process of creating, exploring, being authentic and striving to continue to grow as an artist.

When I started to attend workshops, I first studied with Pat Dews. I learned a lot! Pat says in her book Creative Composition and Design “As important as it is to understand the elements and principals of design, there is a lot to be said about something just looking and feeling “right.” Uniqueness in personal vision can be more important than technical skill. Nurture and stimulate your imagination. Listen to your intuition and go with your gut feeling.” Good advice.

Another artist who knows the joy of bringing pieces together to make a pleasing whole is Joan Schulze.


Collect, combine, define, compose,
discard, cover and peel.
look, mark, cut,
refine, paste and press.
shift, touch, observe,
decide…accept beauty.

~Joan Schulze 1999

with permission of the artist, from The Art of Joan Schulze.

Following are several of the collage I received in the just completed 12th International Collage Exchange, with links when available. Enjoy!

Journey 9, by Donna Watson

New York Times Series #6, by Jeanne E. Rohen

Window Tracing, by Mary Ellen Long

Untitled, by Renea Erickson

Oak #5, by Jeanne Mankinen

Jeanne's statement: This year my collages reflect my concern for the environment - including both animals and plants. I hope that humans will make progress in appreciating and caring for other species on our beautiful planet.

Affirmation 9, by Jette Clover

In Touch 13, by Cordula Kagemann


  1. i love your collages ... the current lot are beautifully quiet, contemplative (to me) ...

    the Schulze quote on working is fabulous >>> Gina

  2. Thank you for including my collage in your post-- you are so lucky to receive all the other wonderful collages from the exchange-- and I love the Joan Schulze poem- so perfect for collage. I will be copying down that one...
    donna watson

  3. Yay! Your comment page on my computer seems to be working!
    Between your post and Donna Watson's I am just in heaven! It is such a treat to view such great work.
    I think Motherwell has something going with his thought about collage. I think it resonates with right brained perception on an intuitive and emotional level that is at once satisfying and engaging. When I want to relax and get centered, I will make a collage. My first passion is painting but it often feels like physical labor. Collage is a pure labor of love and intense focus, sort of like meditation.
    Thanks for sharing all this wonderful work.

  4. Hi Gina: Thank you. I love the quiet but powerful palette. Joan's poem says it all!

    Hi Donna: I am so pleased I got one of your collage in the exchange. A favorite, of course!

    Marie - When you told me you had trouble posting a comment I changed my settings. No word verification and no comment moderation for 5 days. I'm glad it worked! And I must say the image you posted today at your blog was very appealing and strong. You are a fabulous artist!

  5. Thank you for sharing these; each is beautiful in it's own uniqueness. I love discovering new collage artists. I also like the poem by Schulze- it captures the essence of collage in words, doesn't it?

  6. Love seeing some of your collage collection, and always like seeing your work. The group seems in such harmony with what you do, yet each personally its own. The quotes and your thoughts round out a lovely post.

  7. Lucky you to have received such wonderful treasures. Seeing these wonderful pieces inspires me to join the fun next year. Thanks for the wonderful post. Now I am off to follow those links and Alice, down the rabbit hole

  8. I have Joan's book and love looking at the quilts that she makes. They look like collages in themselves. I love these collages that you have posted here. Really great stuff. You are lucky to be part of the exchange and receive so many in return.

  9. Hi Sharmon - I think Joan's poem does capture the essence of the process. Thank you!

    Hi Maggie - Yes I agree, each personally its own.

    Hi Zen Dot - It is an inspiring exchange - fun to make collage and give and fun to receive.

    Hi Teri - I enjoy Joan's book - she does fiber art and paper collage. Such an inspiration!

  10. I love the first pic at the start of this post - and thanks for the tip of laying a piece of glass over the arranged components. That is something I will try. Not much time for blog visiting at the moment but yours always inspires me.

  11. Thanks for posting these. They make a great set. I've enjoyed taking a look and I like the serenity they seem to exude, but there's also the more energetic one by Jeanne that I love.

    And now I know how to make collages without hoping that no-one sneezes!!

  12. Hi Leslie. I was just wanting to follow the link to Jeane's work. No luck I'm afraid as it doesn't link up. Wonder if you might have the info I need? Thanks. Ax

  13. Wonderful collage artists, and thank you for leaving their links.
    I like your process of collaging--thank you for sharing that also and YOUR beautiful collage.

  14. I love seeing the work you have received. It all looks very inspiring. Also, the Pat Dews comment about something looking right is something we all have to learn to trust; it's the way we arrive at that "unique personal vision".

  15. Wow, Leslie, how lucky are you? Collages from so many wonderful artists..... and the cherry on the top... one of Donna's. How did you manage that?
    Great post! You make me yearn to collage.

  16. Crikey Leslie!! this wonderful selection of collages really makes me feel inadequate. I have been staring at them for ages trying to decide how I can raise my game to this level. I have to try much harder. Thank you.

  17. This is a lovely post...the collages will be as treasures and the quote works perfectly.
    Love the studio updates...won't be long now!

  18. Hi Leslie,

    Such an interesting selection of collage pieces you've acquired. I especially like Nos 2 to 5, from Jeanne to Jeanne!

  19. Do you remember telling me once that we were rich in art. Girl, you have struck the mother lode. I love 'em all. Yours is making me want to cut and paste RIGHT NOW. Jeanne's is superb, and Donna's is wonderful. I have one from Jette Clover from another exchange, and I love it. Mary Ellen Long's collage: will you get her to tell me how she did that? Cordula's is great, and Renea Erickson's is one of my favorites. Love Pat Dews, thanks for introducing her.

  20. Beautiful collagework of your own and of other artists - you are so generous to share and inspire me to continue with my own creative efforts! Gorgeous work you display here. Thank you.

  21. Oh Leslie... this is such a completely yummy collection of images and words to lift the spirits...thanks so much for all the new, and fond visits to those known, each and all providing such rich inspiration.

  22. Hi Ann – nice to see you!

    Annie – it was a facebook link. Perhaps one must be on facebook for it to work. I'm not sure.

    Diane – Hi! Good to see you.

    Hi Bill – That unique personal vision – it’s the reward for being an artist.

    Robyn – You can join in next year!

    Ian – I always find your work divine actually.

    Hi Mary Ann – Thank you. The studio is coming along.

    Hi Derrick – Good to see you. Must pop over and find out what poetry you have been writing.

    Mary – I do remember that we are rich in art – the best kind of riches I think!

    Sunrise Sister – Thanks! So good to see you.

    Iona- Sorry to hear about your broken arm – I’m sending healing thoughts your way!

  23. You have really received a wonderful lot of collages in this project. There is definitely a soft and serene quality to them all.

  24. Beautiful collages Leslie. Thanks for explaining a bit of your process.

  25. What an outstanding bunch of collages. You must be thrilled with the exchange!!

  26. as an artist it's so true when things look and feel right! Thank you for visiting and leaving a lovely comment. I hope communities will be part of our future too :)


  27. Leslie it has bee quite a while since I last blogged but visiting your blog is always feeds the imagination and I always leave in awe after seeing your work.

  28. Love every single thing in this post!
    Thank you Leslie!

  29. Leslie,

    Thank you for posting this rich exchange of ideas and images--passing it on to all of us keeps the exchange going! The delicacy and subtlety of the work is stunning.

  30. what a wonderful collection! Just beautiful works, thank you for sharing them Leslie. I also love your tip about placing a piece of glass over your placed elements, to get a feel for the work prior to gluing - great idea.

  31. what a tremendous collection of collages you received! you're quite the lucky lady. thank you so much for sharing, and for the wonderful links and poem.

    will you be participating in the collae exchange next year? i had intended to this year but life got in the way a wee bit. i will definitely be playing for 2011.

  32. Stunning works, Leslie -- yours and the packet of precious gifts from fellow collagists! I have followed Joan S. for several years and every so often view her "haiku" collages on her site just for the sheer thrill they give me. Thanks again for sharing!

  33. You recieved a fabulous collection of collages from the exchange and all these people are equally lucky to have recieved one of yours! I got one by Mary Ellen Long also. The exchange is an invaluable experience and I wish there were more opportunities like it for us collage artists.


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