contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Artist Book – The Beginning

Artist books
are wonderful places to explore, confirm, and celebrate one’s art. I usually make a couple of books each year in late summer and early autumn. I find I spend a lot of time on them – about three months from the start to the finish. Some years I made them of brown paper bags, creating a pocket for extra pullouts; some years the pages were made from nature prints I had done; and some years the pages were each an individual collage picturing a theme.

I’ve been thinking about how perfect my tissue paper transfers are for the pages of this years book. So in the past few weeks I decided on a format. I am going to use a simple Japanese side stab binding. The pages will be 11 inches wide (about 28 cm) and 4.25 (about 11 cm) inches high, of BFK Reeves paper which is a favorite of mine. The binding on the left short side will take away about .5 inches of the page. Therefore I have put the most interesting part of the tissue paper composition on the far right edge.

I am thinking of these as visual haiku. The appeal for me is the natural minimalism of the papers and the haiku format. I’m not sure what I will do with the opposing pages; perhaps some words, or fragments of poetry, a nature print or something found in nature. Each of these tissue paper pages will have added mark making of some kind to complete the composition.

I enjoy the process of book making. For me, a simple form is the best, allowing me to focus on the content which I find most engaging. I like to add a semi-transparent paper as the first and last pages. I have done transfers on heavier rice paper and can use that as covers. I have 14 pages started so far, and anticipate at least that many more. As I continue to work on these I will post updates over the coming months. I find there is a meditative quality to making artist books, repetition of the page format, thinking ahead to the over all content and theme, and the tactile quality that is afford when one picks of a handmade book. My books almost always serve as a means for me to celebrate my favorite season – Autumn.


  1. This is a book I would love to see! The pieces you have shown are so delicately beautiful in true Lelsie style. I like the sound of words, poetry fragments...or even haiku on the opposing pages.

  2. These pages look gorgeous - a visual feast to stroll through.

  3. I love the change in the seasons and autumn is so colourful. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next on these beautiful surfaces.

  4. I love the idea of the book, and these are beautiful pages.
    I'm also working on different projects lately, and a book about my travel to Thailand is one of them. I will paint, sketch and write about my stories there.

  5. I love the minimalism. Coloring your pages of a book is amazing. Look forward to see your further moves.

  6. Beautiful art, Leslie. The book will be fabulous.

  7. What a great project Leslie. I love the concept of a visual haiku. The glimpses you have shown are so beautiful and I really look forward to seeing how this progresses.

  8. Good Morning Leslie - I'm having coffee with you this morning; soothed by your beautiful book pages and excited to see the outcome; intrigued by your link to Ladies and Gentlemen (thank you!)and in sync with your feelings about books and Autumn.

    Oh - and looking forward to opening Artist Revolution tonight - purchased at your recommendation.

    Thanks for such a satisfying start to my day.


  9. this has the feel and look of serenity :)

  10. How absolutely beautiful these are, Leslie. I want to caress them, to examine them closely... in person.
    Could you tell us about tissue paper transfer? I haven't heard of this method of transfer.

  11. Hi Leslie...another wonderful post.
    I would love to see some of your older books...especially the ones made from brown paper bags.
    BFK Rives is one of my favorite papers too :) I have some soaking in Janettes home made walnut ink as I write this :)
    Look forward to seeing this book evolve.

  12. Leslie, You are in your best place...working and creating your book this summer...I can just read the energy level! I like the poem, writing and cover sheet ideas.I too would like to see your brown paper bag books when you get the chance. Carry on dear friend!

  13. Leslie----Thanks for sharing the "how-to" section of binding. I have been contemplating doing a book and had no idea where I was going to find good instructions to do the binding. Thanks! This will come in handy and I will post what I have come up with when I get it done. I, also, love Reves BFK. Such wonderful stuff.

  14. Robyn: Thank you. I’ll see what words might show up for the opposing pages. Simple and brief I think.

    Annie: Thank you! Good to “see” you. How is your summer going?

    Kate: Seasons – I make some kind of art to celebrate the changes every year. It’s a topic I never tire of.

    Sylvie: Oh I hope we get to see your book. Working on a book is a refreshing change of pace.

    B & W: Thank you. I feel a real need for minimalism. I really love it, as I know you do as well.

    Mary: Thank you. I hope so! I’m still working on mixing the right brow paint – either it’s too orange or too green….

    Seth: Thank you Seth! I’ll post on the books progress from time to time.

    Debra: Thank you. I loved your new work at your blog too!

    Catherine: Your note made me smile. I have my morning coffee with the blogging world too. It’s my quiet time. I hope you enjoy Artist Revolution.

    Jeane: I love the occasional pocket of serenity. ;o)

    Jo R: I’ll get back to you with the process. I was looking at an encaustic class in Oregon this fall…..

    Jo H: Boy you set me back on my heels! I had to stop and think “do I have one of those books? And if so, where?” I’ll keep an eye out. I exchange a book each fall with a very good artist friend. I can’t remember if I made a brown paper bag book for my self or not….

    Mary Ann: Ah yes! You are correct! I really needed to get my book started. The papers were calling to me. Thank you.

    Teri: There are a lot of great “how to” books on making artist books. Perhaps your library has a few. I’m looking forward to seeing what you make. Books are a wonderful project.

  15. This sounds really well thought out. I can't wait to see this work in progress...certainly the process will be exciting to watch!

  16. Hi Leslie,

    Looks like you have everyone queuing up to see how your book develops! Your papers are very "gentle"; the top one almost looks to have flecks of gold through it.

  17. mm!
    I used some rice paper in a stab bind early this year...the floppiness and texture of the paper was adorable.

    The fragility was hard to work with, so I KNOW how challenging your book will be.
    Looking forward to being part of it's birth!

  18. I'd love to see your books as well. But more than that, I'd love to touch them!

  19. Leslie, Thank you for the link to the art book "Ladies and Gentlemen", I found it fascinating.
    I could see your connection to the beautiful textural elements!

  20. So subtle and beautiful. They look like something nature made.

  21. wow!! i can't wait to see more!

  22. this is stunning...just wonderful and bright and invogorating.

  23. Leslie,

    In this amazing body of work and very plastic consistency continues to cling poetics of transparency, translucency, lightness and balance.
    The painting is installed in the space and is a route that demand the viewer meet and understand the relations of space and time.
    Interior landscapes are sensitive to unite and unintelligible.
    It is this sense of mystery, accentuated by the illusion of transparency and translucency in the surface, which characterizes this visual poem.

    Yours, José Brito


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