contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Notebooks and Pens

Life Lessons, collage, 6 x 6, by Leslie Avon Miller

I am a notebook person. I am also a pen person. The good quality of the paper, the flow of the ink, and the feel of the pen in my hand please me. I think this is because I am an idea person. And the better the ink flows on the paper, the better I can keep up with my thoughts.
I like to collect quotes in notebooks. Sometimes I keep track of colors I mix in the studio. And when I experience loss, disappointment or struggle I need to write about it, privately.
I must have oh, a dozen notebooks at any given time. For a while I tried to keep different notebooks for different subjects; one for recording my dreams, one for quotes, one for art ideas, and so on. But I’m not able to keep track of an idea long enough to find the appropriate notebook. So now I record little bits of everything in all my notebooks. And that is working for me. It seems to be more important to me to have something to write in than it is to have a tightly categorized notebook.
In 2007 I experienced a difficult time creating my art. I can see now that it wasn’t exactly a creative block; it was more a time of transition. I kept a journal during that time, on my laptop. I really struggled. My art was unrecognizable as mine. I was lost.
Looking at my notes from that time I see that I maintained some sort of forward momentum despite the difficulty I was experiencing.
I made a list I called “What I am Doing Right.”
- continue to think
- wait a while if I am tired
- stop and look at the painting before I proceed
- creating a lot more time to paint; like a job. Great!
- using good colors
- thinking some more
- continue to experiment
- continue to look at lots of art
- continue to nurture my own artistic voice
- seek authenticity
- have fun!
In another notebook I recorded this quote; “To write is to locate my own address inside my head.” – E. M. Broner.


  1. Glad you're back blogging, and hope you had a restful week. Lovely piece of art, here.

  2. I'm a notebook and pen person too. Except that I have only one journal and everything ends up in it, from snippets of overheard conversations to slapping down paint and collaging to moaning and whining about my day. It's a complete mess and I love it.

  3. Welcome back Leslie,

    I loved this collage when I saw it on my sidebar listing. The blue/grey colour attracts me and the row of 'pens'!

  4. Hi Leslie, I found you when I was talking with Dorie, and I'm in love! what a wonderful blog
    love yvette

  5. Interesting!
    I love pens and nice papers almost as much as art supplies.I have notebooks, but find I don't use them like I should,,,I have little snips of papers here & there with the notes. Very disorganized in that area,but trying to do better.
    I really like the 'message in the window' in this work, and the hint of blues with the ochre.Soft, beautiful.

  6. Welcome back and well rested, I hope.
    Ah, notebooks! Friends give me beautiful ones but I'm usually drawn to the drugstore variety, lined, solid bright color and plenty of paper. I buy my pens that I really like (fine point) in boxes of a dozen or more. The blackest ink and I both write and draw little thumbnail sketches as ideas show up. I write at least two pages a day and sometimes always feels like home base. Sometimes when visiting a friend we will take a subject we are discussing and write about it in an automatic way and then share...very helpful.

  7. Oops, I forgot to mention how much I like this piece. The words are so subtle and placed perfectly!

  8. Leslie, thanks for your comment on my blog today - it really touched me. A ritual I forgot to write about is keeping track of all my paintings on the computer, in a daily painting journal. At the end of every work day I enter in exactly the pieces I worked on, what I did to them, and what colors I used. My regular "writing" journal is for the morning affirmations and other thoughts and ideas concerning my work, as well as everyday observations and events. This practice of keeping the two journals, one written the other on the computer, is perfect for my working habits. The computer diary also makes it easy to access any info I may need on a particular painting in the future.

  9. Ohhhh yummy lovely delicious stuff here Leslie - your retreat must have really fed your artist soul!! Pens and notebooks, quotes, walking with you and such a beautiful creamy delicious new collage (just love it! can you tell?) What more can i say except thank you!

  10. I love this dear little piece, Leslie, and I'm so glad you're back to share yourself with us. Good comments on keeping track of your thoughts. I've started an idea book, a composition book that's on the end of my desk where I'm writing the art ideas that seem worth pursuing. The old way was to write them in my current big journal but they got lost so I hope this new notebook will work.
    I really like Diane's idea of recording the days work on the computer.

  11. thanks for stopping by my blog, i love this collage of yours, lovely layers xx

  12. Stunning collage. Love the splatter at the top. Pens, paper, notebooks...all things I covet!

  13. gosh, this is one of my favourites ever! beautiful composition! and... I got your meme!!!!!!!!!! Thanks so so so much, it's so beautiful, I am showing it to all my friends here :) thanks!!!!

  14. I love your piece and I will get to see your work in the "flesh" soon which will be great, Jo is so pleased.
    Now about the notebooks...I have many on the go at the same time and none of them look like the "artist books" are supposed to.
    I begin thinking I will keep it tidy and then it gets messier with dreadful and not so dreadful drawings and hasty writing. After the first few pages of "neat" then the rot sets in.
    I would however be lost without them.

  15. ahhhh, paper and pens...met a recent comparative literature grad and we both lamented the loss of good paper in books...the feel, the smell...same for pens I think. Beautiful collage and words.

  16. Love the Broner quote! Paper and pens are part of my world, as well.

    You are 1/2 mile ahead of me, dear walky friend! I am taking it slow and realistically. And am really enjoying it.

  17. Mary: It’s good to be back and connected in Blogland. I am continually amazed at your paintings!

    Jazz: I like the messy notebooks. I like the intrigue of things sticking out here and there.

    Derrick: How clever! To find pens in the collage….I didn’t see them until you pointed them out!

    Yvette: Thanks for visiting my blog. I have enjoyed getting to know Dorie, but now I wish I spoke so many languages! I am stunned by the photo on your blog header.

    Babs: Sometimes I find my snippets and paste them into my notebooks, so I can keep track of them! I’ll write on anything handy if I need to; receipts, junk mail, envelopes.

    Mary Ann; I like drug store ones too, but the color of the lines has to be soft. What I especially appreciate is a note book that will open flat; spiral bound are my favorites.

    Diane: You are such a great thinker! If/When my life evolves into less day job and more art, I will adopt some of your process; tidy studio, rituals, and keeping track on the computer of paintings. Well, never mind the tidy studio….tidy for collage I guess. No matter how many times I pile up the papers I have created, they always get moved about as I look for just the right piece!

    Ms. R. Rose: Good to see you! I will pop over to your blog and see what’s going on! I suspect I can leave a comment now. For a bit the comment Word verification was broken.

    Jo R: That’s a great idea; a separate book for your art ideas. I do keep a notebook or at least paper on my work table; especially for ideas for titles. Sometimes words come that I know fit the piece I am working on.

    Jo W. Thank you for visiting. I enjoyed your blog as well.

    Seth: It’s funny how we are so drawn to something tactile like pens and paper and notebooks. I am so easily seduced by a stationary store! It’s a common affliction.

    Luisa: Oh your meme arrived. Great! No matter how well the photograph turned out, seeing art in person really lets us see a whole new dimension.

    Janette: I prefer messy notebooks; I think they are so much more interesting! Enjoy the meme viewing!

    Catherine: I remember good paper in books; there was usually a page at the very front that was semi-transparent, maybe it crackled as one turned it. Rich. What I love about artist books is that they are so tactile.

    Willow: I am very proud of us for walking! I won’t walk today; work days are more of a challenge for me, but I will for sure the next few days as I am off of work. The tree pollen is a maximum here so I fear it will be more and more treadmill and less and less walking in nature for me. I was trying to think of a way to blog surf while walking on the treadmill; hook up the computer to the big T.V. maybe. I do feel better for the walks, and without you as my partner, I would just avoid it and feel guilty!

  18. well apparently the year you spent transitioning has paid off very well - i believe that walking through the hard door always leads to the best stuff! love the 9 downward lines in this piece....

  19. I really like this one! The subtlety of the colors and textures is wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on what seemed at the time to be a dry spell. Always good to hear that those times probably bear fruit later!

  20. Quote books, idea books, copious're talking my language. Glad to have you back Leslie. I hope you are feeling suitably replenished. Love the collage!

  21. This painting/collage is wonderful... both soft and strong ant the same time. And your list of what you are doing right... I need to do this! Sometimes life is overwhelming with responsibilities and this is one of those times for me. Thank you for helping me re-claim myself. The quote by E.M. Broner is one I will write in my journal! Have a wonderful Saturday...Roxanne

  22. Hi,
    I just happened to see your comment about pollen on Sylvie Van Hulle's blog. I used to be extremely allergic, got asthma and couldn't go outside. Even cortisone shots didn't help. But since I started taking Pycnogenol apparently I'm cured?!? It's really unbelievable to me. (Please note that I don't sell natural meds or anything, I'm just a fellow artist who can't believe she can breathe when spring comes.)
    You could check out for information. I start taking the supplement long before spring and take a bit more than it says on the package. Hope this helps.


  23. Perhaps because I'm not an artist, I've moved in entirely the opposite direction to help solve the same problem that plagues you--never being able to find the right notebook for the right idea or piece of information.

    I have done away with notebooks and diaries and calendars altogether and now put everything in my ipod touch.

    It's small and light weight. I carry it everywhere. It has categories for everything.

    Now I am so organized no chance confluence of ideas will ever again result in anything remotely creative coming your way from me.

    Good job I'm married to an artist or I'd be totally unbearable. But highly organized.

  24. Beautiful work. I share your list - one of the things I would emphasise in addition is standing back whilst a work is in production to view it from a longish distance. Something has to work close up and from a distance. I am sure you would agree.


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