contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recharging My Batteries

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

~Annie Dillard

Its time to retreat, so I can advance. Time to pull away so I can come back fully engaged. Time to pause, reflect, and celebrate what has been. So I am off for my annual retreat, off to a rudimentary cabin by a beautiful lake, with good long time friends. We will play a lot, walk in nature (I’ll keep track of my miles) and get a zoology lesson or two. I’ll ponder the old bones series. Some sketching and such may happen. We may see an otter, and surely we will see ducks and deer. A jig saw puzzle will be solved. Books will be read, and discussed. We will prepare beautiful simple meals. Laughter and silence will each have their turn.

See you next week.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The White of Old Bones

Intimate Communication Series, collage, 6 inches by 6 inches, by Leslie Avon Miller

So, for about the forth or fifth time, I am working on a White Series. Now let me tell you, this isn’t easy. That’s why I’m still working on it. White is a color, but as colors go, it isn’t very extroverted, like red or even introverted, like blue. It is actually quite neutral. Kind of like the kid in school who was always okay but never excelled at anything; until he went away to college and became an engineer. Or the girl, who hitchhiked to Los Angeles, took off her braces, got beautiful and became an actress. When they show up at the class reunion, people say “wow!” White is like that. Quiet, unassuming and blended into the background. Until it finds the right setting, with the right cast of supporting actors, and then, well, something beautiful happens.

Whites in all shades of warm butter or gray misty fog, or blue toned sandy seaside, the white of winter drifted snows, the color of old bones; those whites can sing in three part harmony. Those whites mixed together are like a surprise gift wrapped in tissue paper. And that’s what I am seeking and striving to create. And I am also looking to get a little funky kind of thing going with a personal language of symbols, marks and layers of texture. I want to create contrast that accentuates what’s happening, but remains true to the beauty of white, like old world marble which is white but all those other colors too.

I have been reading Wolf Kahn again. What rings true for me is Wolf speaking about the artist expressing unique, particular perceptions. He said “the intimacy of his personal relationship to the work at hand has to remain inviolate.” The White Series keeps calling me back again and again, like a spiral. So here I go again. It’s going to be fun, engaging and challenging work. What could be better than that?


Need a smile? This creative, upbeat and funny little movie is just the ticket! Get validated! I suggest you get a cup of something as this is 16 minutes long, but it will provide you with uplift good for the rest of the day! I am not an actress but I would have loved to be in this movie! Don't you love the way creatives (and that is all of us) come up with the best stuff?! (Back to our regular programming soon.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Student of Art - Student of Life

6 inch by 6 inch untitled collage by Leslie Avon Miller
You are always the student in a one person art school. You are also the teacher of that class. – Irwin Greenberg

This is soooo very true. We teach ourselves. Oh, I have hired a number of consultants along the way; artists who so patiently and enthusiastically put on workshops to share their expertise. And yes, I have learned from these experiences. But in the end, it’s what happens when I am alone in my studio, my hands in the paint, my mind giving near constant feedback and critique that allows me to learn and grow as an artist. Purposefully I create chaos. I think about it, analyze what is going on and then I respond. I find it very exciting and engaging. I enjoy problem solving. And art is the best kind of problem to solve. There is never one correct answer, only a number of options. Plus, art is not life and death, so really the pressure is off.

A student is one who studies, investigates and examines thoughtfully. I enjoy being a student, both of art and of life. I like striving to improve. And with art, I am my own critic. I am seeking to improve from my last effort. I try to be truthful. I allow myself to relish the areas of my painting that are delightful. I try not to nit pick. I certainly try to determine what isn’t working; where the painting could be stronger. At all costs I avoid being harsh. After all, I am a student of art. A learner. And I always will be. If I ever stop seeking to improve and to grow I’ll be bored with myself.

We are always the student and teacher in a one person school of life.

I found a couple of interesting sites this morning. This links to an
Art Critique Form with good questions to ask about a work of art, and a discussion of how to give art critique by Marvin Bartel. The art of critique for photographers is discussed by Ed Zawadzki at edZstudios.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Showing My Enthusiasm

Wordless Message, 12 inches x 12 inches on watercolor paper.
Part of the Communication Series.
I enjoyed reading Robert Genn’s Twice Weekly Letter this week. The topic was Irwin Greenberg’s Words to Paint By. I am attracted to advice given in short concise statements, I think because I can remember it better than longer more philosophical discussions. There are 100 quotes with advice about being an artist listed at the end of Robert's post.

My favorite quote from the article was “Let your enthusiasm show.” Yes! I love to paint! I love to create! I love to find out what will happen in the studio! I love the process. I enjoy creating a mindful but chaotic surface and then achieving some kind of interesting resolution. I am deeply satisfied by textures, shapes, marks and colors. I love the meditative state of being in the flow. I feel deeply connected to the process and to what I am saying through my art.

I looked some things up about the concept of enthusiasm today, and found out the word is derived from a Greek word meaning “having a god within.” Enthusiasm is defined in part as “an absorbing possession of the mind.” To me it is about being fully alive, present in my own life and joyful. What a gift it is to love our work so deeply.

One of the best ways to develop enthusiasm is to hang out with enthusiastic people, because it is infectious. That’s another reason I love to blog and connect with like minded people like you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Different Meme

Visual Meme.

Just a bit of fun, a One-Word Sunday Meme. Found at the blog of Cait O’Connor

Meme people are those who signed up to do a give away of five things they have made, as did I.

This meme is of words. Feel free to take this and enjoy.

1. Where is your mobile phone (cell) Counter

2. Your significant other? Kitchen

3. Your hair? Untended

4. Your mother? Missed

5. Your father? Loved

6. Your favourite? Sweetie

7. Your dream last night? Interesting

8. Your favourite drink? Wine

9. Dream/goal? Art

10. Virtue? Loving

11. Hobby? Arting

12. Fear? Loss

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here

14. Where were you last night? Bagend

15. Something that you aren't? Unkind

16. Muffins? Poppy

17. Wish list item? Clients

18. Where you grew up? Washington

19. Last thing you did? Dinner

20. What are you wearing? Casual

21. TV? Hockey

22. Pets? Kitties

23. Friends? Many

24. Your life? Delicious

25. Your mood? Engaged

26. Missing someone? Gram

27. Car? Mazda

28. Something you're not wearing? Shoes

29. Your favourite shop? Gallery

30. Your favourite colour? Cream

33. When is the last time you laughed? Today

34. Last time you cried? Today

35. One place that you go to over and over? Canada

36. One person who emails you regularly? Donna

37. Your favourite place to eat? Home

Saturday, February 14, 2009


These are tiny 2 inch by 2 inch collages, ready to send out for the MEME people. I have about 16 of them. More than being created, these were discovered in the studio and added to with additional elements. So Jo Horswill, Jeane (yes, you get one), Luisa, Dorie, I Love Black and White, Robin in Las Vegas, 13 Moons, and Ian please send me your mailing addresses. My email is leslie avon miller @ (remove the spaces). Once I send these off to you I will move on to larger works.
I didn't know what a meme was either, so here is what wikipedia said: A meme (pronounced /miːm/) comprises a unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices; such units or elements transmit from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. The etymology of the term relates to the Greek word mimema for mimic.[1] Memes act as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures.[2]And a link to the weikipedia explanation:
A link to my original MEME post is here:
I like this quote. It seems to me to be about speaking with our own artistic voice.
You learn the essential skills, how to manipulate
the brush and how to handle paint,
and you study the works of artists you admire.
After a while, though, you have to be yourself.
That's scary, but satisfying.
T. M. Nicholas

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Intimate Conversation Series: International Collage Exchange 2009

Intimate Conversation 2 will be for sale at the International Collage site on April 1, 2009. I plan to donate the proceeds to the ICE cause. It is 6 inches by 6 inches.

Saying Yes is the one I kept for myself to commemorate this series of work. This one is 5.5 inches by 5.5 inches.

Intimate Conversation 1 is the piece for the permanent exhibit for this year. This one is 5.5 inches by 5.5 inches.

This is a collage of the pieces for this years exchange. They range in size from 4 inches by 4 inches to 6 inches by 6 inches.

An Intimate Conversation: The Artist's Statement

This series created for the International Collage Exchange 2009 is inspired by my value for connecting with people, which for me, is one of the functions of art. Using gestures as symbol, textures, a limited color palette, and creating from a meditative space, these pieces were created as conversations of nuance between the viewer and the maker. With these works I extend my hand in peace and friendship to you.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

In The Bones

I don't have new art to show you today, so here is a photo of my studio assistant. He becomes quite insistent on my attention at times. So far he hasn’t jumped into wet paint….

In The Bones

I’ve just returned from an intensive work shop, and as usual I find it a bit of a challenge to reenter my customary life. This is in part because I have been changed by my experience, and in part because in the juice of a workshop, life is surreal, expanded, and intensified.

This was the 5th in a series of courses that, for me, began last summer. My class was called “In the Bones”. Yummy title, yes? I am renewed in my belief that each of us is unique, and that we have something to say. We are all tapped into the same life force, but what we bring from that is our unique expression of the deep well. Our intuition is our powerful guide to our biggest, most fulfilling life. The tools we talked about and experienced are authenticity, connection, aliveness and fierce courage. All of these attributes are ours to develop, and use in speaking our own resonating creative voice.

We spoke of and experienced breaking the rules, for the sake of greater authenticity, and being pushed to the edge where the possibilities exist. We spoke of trust and taking risks from the place of trust. I do trust my own creativity and my own process. I trust that my expression is through me, not of me, and is part of the flow. Just today I received an email from a fellow artist who said to me “Do not be afraid to take risks.” I know he speaks from experience.

Your own creative voice is with you at all times, as is mine. I am turning up my courage and following my expanded vision. And part of that is fueled by the connection I experience with other like minded people here in blogland.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

True Confessions

Collage for the International Collage Exchange 2009 by Leslie Avon Miller

Okay, I’m going to have to confess. I have a problem with choosing. Specifically choosing people. Because choosing some people in, means choosing some people out. It goes back to the 4th grade. Now, I have a healthy dislike of having objects flying towards my face at high rates of speed. Seems pretty logical to me. It’s a reflex action designed to avoid pain. So, when baseballs are thrown at me, I duck. I flinch. I even close my eyes. (In the scary parts of movies too.) So, I was never picked to play on somebody’s “side” in the school baseball games, right until next to last. (That other girl must have had an issue with baseballs too.) I was picked for lots of things; the school play, to be a friend, to sit with on the bus, but not for baseball. And it never felt good, even though I didn’t give a hoot about baseball. But I did care about being part of the group.

I just came across this quote: “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” That’s by Jane Howard, and I think she is right! And that is part of what goes on in the blog world. We connect on some level; liked mindedness, similar sense of humor, similar obsessions with art, or images, or words, but we connect.

Holly Friesen has a great blog of her art, and the motivation for her art at The Roaring Inside. I do recommend you look at her current work, and her explanation for it. Very powerful. And I am truly honored that she is giving me the PREMIO DARDOS award. “The prize is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.” And I am honored.

But my dilemma is that then I am supposed to pick 5 recipients on whom to bestow the award. And now I am back in 4th grade and I just can’t go there. So I am giving it to all of you. If you read this, you are an award winner in my eyes! Because I like you all, and I like our team. Just nobody throw a baseball my way, okay?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Her Studio Turned Red

Another yummy neutral piece for the International Collage Exchange.

Her studio turned red; the water, the work table, the towels and even her fingers. She dared not touch her tea mug for fear it too would turn red. Cool reds, warm reds, earthy reds, red reds. Reds she didn’t know she owned. Reds she mixed and said “hello” to. Were these yummy, or were these yucky? She didn’t know. She was learning to cook with a new spice. In the photograph, Mother Nature had done a spectacular job of adding reds in all tones to a vibrant but neutral winter landscape. Mother’s reds were so graceful, so eye-catching, and so satisfyingly perfect. Well, Mother had been at this longer than she. Intrigued, but spent for the evening, she was called to supper. Spaghetti red greeted her.

Sunday, February 1, 2009