contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Monday, December 27, 2010

Art Is My Teacher

My work is loving the world.
~Mary Oliver

Paying some attention to what my art has been teaching me, I have noted a few thoughts. Like all lists, and all awareness, it is in flux, incomplete and evolving. I'll share my observations with you here.

Go with what is happening. Art will teach me what it needs.

It is good to ask "I wonder what will happen if I..."

Swooning is allowed when seeing another artist's work, but feel my feet firmly planted on my own art path.

No matter how much has been mastered, remain a student of everything and of something - photography, on-line presence, or new technology. The world will always evolve and I must also.

We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.

~Lao Tzu

When in a growth phase, protect incubating ideas. They may be shy. Retreat from scrutiny, like a snake that is shedding its skin. Emerge fresh and ready to shine.

Attend to nature, the original muse.

I learn, yet again, to see, really see.

Share with other artists. They get it. Encourage others as I am encouraged.

Experience gratitude.

The answer is almost always "keep working."

Happy New Year!

What is your art teaching you?

The first image: Untitled, 12 inches by 12 inches, watermedia on birch panel. By Leslie Avon Miller

The second image: Untitled, 30 inches by 22 inches, watermedia and collage on watercolor paper. By Leslie Avon Miller

Readers are adding:

  • patience
  • resilience
  • curiosity
  • exploration
  • discovery
  • renewal
  • the value of looking within
  • to be more brave
  • go to work!
  • follow any leads
  • always allow time to experiment
  • the beginning
  • letting go
  • dare
  • now it's good
  • look carefully
  • be brave
  • have an open mind
  • look closely
  • be excited
  • be open
  • share
And more words from you:

    • nourish the spirit
    • be kind to myself
    • Play and explore
    • Celebrate life
    • Be present
    • Push
    • Feel
    • See the light within and in the world
    • Keep pushing the envelope
    • You can’t win if you don’t play
    • Allow
    • Accept
    • Sustain
    • Stillness/action/aloneness
    • Share
    • Acceptance
    • Reflection
    • Perseverance
    • Connection
What a rich and fabulous list. I'll keep adding to the list as you share your thoughts. Thank you all!


  1. Thank you for your inspirational posting, I really admire the gestural marks on your images. I wish you a happy, prosperous and successful new year

  2. Wonderful things to remember and to keep in our pockets as we enter the new year. Thank you!

  3. beautiful works Leslie.

    My art is teaching me patience, resilience and the power of curiosity, questioning and exploration.

  4. beautiful work as always Leslie, I am enjoying your blog and your work very much... thank you !

  5. Oh Leslie, happy New Year to you! Lovely paintings and words gathered here. Love the quote about emptiness! My art teaches me about discovery and renewal. I'm gearing up to do some more art as this year turns into next year. Blessings!

  6. thank you for these thoughts and for your lovely collages. sending you blessings for a creative and boutiful new year. ps as i look out my window today, we are having a blizzard, and i see the colors you love to use, the white, the dark trees scrimmed white by the blowing snow, the greys.

  7. Beautiful post, Leslie. It reminds me to use this quiet week for a little introspection. My work has taught me the value of looking within. I'm really enjoying your tumblr posts by the way! :-)Deborah

  8. Hi Leslie,
    This is my first visit -- and what a visit it is. I really like your blacks, greys, and whites. I like your flecked background. I like the spirit that drives this blog.

    What my art is teaching me: to be more brave.

  9. Beautiful post Leslie! Love the art and the quotes you shared as well. That's a very good question that you have posed. hmmmm....will think on it.

    Wishing you a happy, healthy, creative 2011!

  10. Oh Leslie...I'm so happy that I came over to visit...I've been in the studio for weeks now preparing for upcomoning exhibitions...and stopping here to read all of your fabulous prompts is like stopping for an energy drink of the best and healthiest kind...
    On my studio wall I have a wonderful photo of Georgia O'Keeffe that simply says "Go to work."
    I love those words.

  11. Leslie,
    congratulations on this new painting.
    has deep feelings,
    creativity, strength and transcendence ...
    is a very beautiful work.
    on which rest the eye,
    each painting is a different time from your
    a new moment
    a new and creative soul
    that rejuvenates itself every moment ...
    a creative force of nature
    humble and eager to be in want ...
    josé brito

  12. Thank-you as always for the inspiration! A wonderful reminder to she who has deemed herself to busy and in too much chaos to work.

    Much needed word to send me in to the new year. Ditto on Merci 33's words about the healthiest of energy drinks!

  13. Best wishes for an artful 2011! Your blog looks amazing, Leslie! xx

  14. Many good points to contemplate on during this down time between Christmas and New Year. My work has taught me to follow any leads and always allow myself time to experiment. Lovely post Leslie! I've missed your posts!

  15. Thank you for all the good wishes for the New Year everyone. I'm going to add your list to the post! Thanks for joining the conversation. If you want to ponder your art teachings a bit, do come back and add them in as they become clear to you.

  16. quelle belle interprétation de la photo de droite!

  17. j'ai presque oublié... de vous souhaiter une nouvelle année pleine d'inspiration! elfi

  18. Hi Leslie,
    As always, wonderful thoughts and works of you
    I like it very much.
    I wish you a happy new year and continues to creative ideas and all the love.
    I learned from my art: the beginning, letting go, dare to close everything back and open again, and say finally: now it is good.
    Greetings from Germany

  19. Hi Leslie,

    First I wish you a very happy and creative new year!
    Your blog is so inspiring and the two paintings above are absolutely stunning. I love them a lot.

    Thank you for all your encouraging words.

    Answering your question: Art is teaching me to look carefully, to be brave and to have an open mind.
    What is does to me? Watching and making art gives me peace of mind and makes me happy.

  20. L-love both your works. I also love the statement that we can swoon when we see and appreciate the creativity and art of others. What does art teach me? To look closely; to be excited; and to be open; and to share. B

  21. Great post, I love these 2 watermedia pieces Leslie.

  22. Beautiful work! I will try to also make a list! Thanks for the post!

  23. Thanks for checking out my blog and for your wonderful comment about my work, Leslie. It means a lot! I love your work and find it very inspiring as well. Happy New Year!

  24. I think I have read posts about artists books on your blog, can you direct me to those posts again? The picture on the sidebar? Is that wheat paste?

  25. Such inspiring art. I always leave here with a smile. Have a fantastic New Year :) xx

  26. Thank you all for thoughts about what art teaches you. I'll keep adding to the list as we continue the discussion.

  27. Leslie - thank you for your thoughts. Your gentle insights and beautiful expressions always reach me. My art teaches me - to nourish the spirit, to be kind to myself, to play and explore, and to celebrate life.

  28. Leslie, I think everyone gained a lot from your post,
    for me my work is keeping me focused on 'being present' ,'Pushing' and Feeling'
    Have a happy new year.

  29. What an inspirational post Leslie. Your paintings are beautiful and the words thought-provoking. Wishing you the best in 2011. Z

  30. Hi Leslie,

    This is really a great post. Love the list and the art too. I especially like the part about remaining a student.
    Happy New Year.

  31. Dear Leslie, your thoughts are beautiful, strong yet soft too, I love that art can be "shy" and that we need to respect that...
    And the list from others wonderful to.
    If I could add...
    Art has taught me to see the light (within, and in the world around me)
    I wish you a year full of discoveries, truths and more evolving into yourself.

  32. All so true and great to read - thank you for your comment the other day - just what I needed.

  33. Great work, Leslie! My art has taught me many things, but lately I hear it saying, "Keep pushing the envelope", and "You can't win if you don't play".

  34. Dear Leslie,
    thank you for your nice comment! It made me very happy. I enjoy your pictures very much. My compliments for that!
    Have a nice New Year's Eve and a great 2011!

  35. Keep working... that's the bit I like best. Wishing you a very Happy New year and wonderful creative adventures in the year ahead. Ax

  36. Your two new pieces posted here speak to the words you've written. Both the words and images are wise, questing, questioning, integrating, digging and remain in the mystery.

    My favorite words for my art this season are allow, accept, and sustain...

    Wishing you an abundant and fruitful New Year!

  37. combo of stillness/action/aloneness/and sharing, with a big dollop of ACCEPTANCE, reflection, and perseverance!!
    (and on line inspiration from folks like YOU!!)
    Healthy happy 2011!

  38. Happy New Year, Leslie! I wish you renewed strength and vision for your creativity in 2011. I really like the second collage - if I turn it through 90 degrees right I see a super winter landscape!

  39. Leslie, thank you for all the great posts over the past year! I hope the new decade ushers in a wealth of creativity for you!

    The word that comes to mind for me in this post would be connections. I value each, from the connections I am aiming to portray between figure & landscape to the connections of random thoughts that surface as I work and the connections between viewer & artist. Best to you in 2011~

  40. Two fabulous works of art to accompany your wonderful words on what art teaches us. Best wishes for a wonderful new year. So much to be grateful for and to appreciate!

  41. Thank you everyone for your words of wisdom. I'm enjoying letting these art words be present in my thoughts.

  42. Hey Leslie, A good sign that I am quite behind in the blog world is when I miss two of your blog posts- my motto in Dec. was: Why do today what I can put off till January and now it is January! Balance is my word- tying to balance my goals in my studio with my obligations and choices I have made for family and gardens and home.

  43. Your words are very powerful, I swear I felt them in my soul. I just discovered you and I'll be a fan.

  44. of late, my art has been teaching me "Confidence".

  45. Hi Leslie, I'm so in love with the first piece in this post. Can you tell me whether it's for sale and what you charge for your pieces. Love all of your work featured in Seth's book, you inspire me.


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