contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blog Alert! Can You Help?

Untitled, 6 inches by 6 inches collage by Leslie Avon Miller

Something is going on, and I don’t understand it. I first noticed it in my Dashboard. Maggie at Colormusings blog has had her blog hacked. Someone is able to post multiple posts – ads about Windows products, Viagra, online casinos, etc. Horrid!

I saw these strange goings on and contacted Maggie by email. She has tried to no avail to be able to reach blogger for help. She has removed the offensive posts, but there is no way to know when and if the offenders will strike her blog again – or one of our blogs.

Does anyone out there have any advice? How do you get through to blogger? Has this happened to anyone else? Her ULR is still the same, so I don’t think that is the answer to the problem.

I know all of us would like Maggie to be able to put a stop to this and return to her artful posting, and we would all like to keep our blogs safe and sound from unwanted intruders.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Creative Space

Collage, untitled, 6 inches by 6 inches by Leslie Avon Miller

The studio is less important than other things, like the burning desire to paint. If you don't have this disease, you can't catch it from a nice studio. ~Warren Criswell

My studio is under construction, and I’m feeling a bit displaced. To distract myself, beyond working on small collage, I thought I would see what words of wisdom artists have about their creative space.

Today I am paying a virtual visit to the studio of Cheryl Taves. As luck would have it, Cheryl has just moved her studio. Her long term plans include building a “purpose built, private studio” at her home.

In Cheryl’s words “here's a bit about my studio re-birth. Re-locating my home studio has been such an interesting and revealing experience about the close, connected relationships we artists have with our studio space. The new studio is large and open...too large for just myself, so I'm sharing the space with another artist, Maggie Cole. The first thing we did was separate the space with a free standing partition wall that serves double duty by giving us our privacy while providing us with another wall to work additional storage on the shelving installed in the returns at either end of the wall.

This new studio had everything I needed for a great working space....and interestingly....and somewhat unexpectedly, I resisted packing up and leaving my old studio for some time after securing the new one. When I did start to dismantle the old studio, I realized that most of the work I had done to date had been generated from within this space...and I was firmly attached. It felt precious, sacred and somehow tearing it apart, a betrayal. I took photographs of this tiny, cluttered, unworkable space to remember it by...and wrote endlessly about the arising feelings in my sketch book/journal. I felt unsettled, anxious and quite lost as the moving process began....and yet, strangely excited about the new beginnings to come.

I took my time and planned the placement of everything into the new space, very carefully and thoughtfully. I knew how I liked to work and what wasn't working for me in the old space could be considered and rectified in the new. I bought new things, de-cluttered and arranged, and re-arranged, everything so it was just as I wanted it. But, I wasn't working there....I didn't feel connected to the space, as yet. I'm working again now, after several weeks of settling in and attaching myself to the space. The more time I spend there and the more of myself I bring into the space, the more my connection deepens. And on those quiet days when no one is's absolutely perfect.

Through this process, what I've come to realize about my studio space is that, for me, there needs to be a perfect blend of access vs. privacy. My old studio was so integrated in to my home (situated in the loft above my living room) that there was not enough privacy at times....and yet, it was so close and easy to go to that art making could happen at any time of day or night...going to the studio meant walking upstairs. But being that accessible meant that phone calls, email, laundry and my husband could all pull me out of my working space all to easily. In the new studio, because it is a destination, I go there to work - no phones, no email and on good days very little interruptions. There is more of a mental transition that happens when I go there to work. It's purposeful and filled with intention. I've been more disciplined with my studio time as a result. But, I find that I don't go there as easily as I would go to my home studio. But when I am there, I'm there for many, long, productive hours.

So, for me, the ideal space is attached to my home, easy to get to and far enough away from household activities that I can work without distraction or interruption. It will have wonderful north facing light and lots of storage for painting supports and supplies. There will be access to the outside, as connection to the ground and garden is really important to me. It will have large walls for working on and a movable central island that will provide a flat surface for working as well as more storage. Thankfully, I have lots of time to plan this new space...and now even more information about my needs due to this recent studio change.

Our studios are such an important part of our art making...the energy of that space should align with what feels right and good for each artist...and that is a very personal thing. For me, a studio should always have a sitting area for reading, writing and contemplation. Our studios are not only for working, but a respite from the normalcy of life...allowing us to drop in to the art-making space within ourselves. I think of it like a vessel...a holding space. Upon entering, there should be a sense of transition, an opening and a quiet comfort....welcome back."

Thank you Cheryl, for allowing us to see your new creative space and hear about the process of settling in to a new space. I am looking forward to seeing your next creative endeavors!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

And the Winner Is...Give Away! Hey! I Just Thought of This!

Update - Sunday - The name drawn from the hat is Elizabeth! She has a photography blog and a blog about Buster, my favorite dog. Elizabeth is also an author of children's books.
Congratulations Elizabeth!

(The palm of her hand smacks her forehead!) Hey! I just had an idea! Here I am at my One Hundred and First Blog Post! So – let’s celebrate with a give away!

You guys are just fabulous! I get such enjoyment from the conversations that happen here and at your blogs – art – creating – being passionate, being inventive, being determined – creating despite the cold, despite the heat, despite the chores, despite the day jobs, despite the economy! We keep at it – writing blog posts, creating art work, staying in touch with the ducks on our pond.

I love creating art. I love the blogging community. And I love it when we create from our own authentic passion for art.

So I’m giving away one free scholarship to the Re-Fresh Your Creative Practice Program! Yes! Free! The whole 6-week program.

Enter a comment here – tell us about your passion for creating perhaps, and I will draw a name in 48 hours, so the winner will have time to prepare for the first session on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 9:00 am Pacific time. All you need to participate is the ability to make a phone call to take part in the conference call, and access to the internet to post to a private blog.

After rediscovering and being inspired by the collage of Paul Horiuchi, I made this small collage last night. Since my studio is under construction, I am finding alternative spaces for creating. I made this one on a table in the living room. (I only have to paint in the bathroom.)

“You’ve got to find what you love. Going to bed at night saying I’ve done something wonderful. That’s what mattered.” ~Steve Jobs

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the Flow of Creativity

Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Have you ever been in a flow, when things just kept getting better and better? That’s happening now for me, and I am having so much fun! I am barely noticing that my studio is under construction. I hauled paints and paper and brushes to the house and have set up a tiny mobile studio in a bathroom, so you know it’s a very small space. I put a board over the sink and away I go!

Earlier this year I set up two pieces of paper on board to do warm-up mark making prior to a painting session. I just kept painting and painting on them, layer after layer. When I had a go at painting with smoke (see my last post) I used those pieces for my trial runs. I took a small section of one of those and did additional mark making to create the piece above. I wanted to let you know that if you decide to paint with smoke as Dean Nimmer outlines in his book Art From Intuition, I suggest you wear a respirator. The fumes, especially if you are working over acrylics, were very unhealthy. Dean outlined a number of safety factors to keep in mind, but not that one. When it comes to sensitivity to vapors and fumes and air born particles I am the canary in the coal mine. Just thought I would share that precaution.

Do you do it for the money, honey? The answer is no. Don't now and never did. Yes, I've made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it... I have written because it fulfilled me. Maybe it paid off the mortgage on the house and got the kids through college, but those things were on the side--I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.

Stephen King

Meanwhile the Re-Fresh Your Creative Practice program is coming together and we are set to start Tuesday, January 19th. There is still time to join us if you wish. I am having so much fun with that creative project! If I had to choose between my love of creating art and my love of working with creative people, I would not be able to do so.

I’m in the kind of flow that fills time to the brim, and I find I am inspired even in the early morning and late night hours. I am making every effort to visit your blogs. It looks to me as if there is a great deal of creative flow going around!

We have so much to celebrate!! There is a permanent party rocking the Universe! We are all standing on one giant revolving dance floor- get out there and do your thing and do it well! Dance the dance of life, and let your own unique and beautiful rhythm flow.

Katharine Dever

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Fresh New Year of Art and Exploration

Don’t you love the freshness of a New Year full of potential? I do! I have my pile of books, I have time and I have all the ideas that have been incubating and collecting in my notebooks while I celebrated the holidays with friends and family.

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day,
a fresh try, one more start,
with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
~JB Priestley

Some fresh new exploring is in order. I want to explore collections – my own, and ones I have been gifted. I’ve always been one to walk looking down at the ground and picking up seed pods, feathers, lichens and such. I collect shells, rocks and miscellaneous finds from the beach. I like vintage white buttons, clasps and fasteners; the older the better.

Having been gifted a few brass bells, I add to my collection when just the right find comes my way. A vintage desk bell is my newest addition, having arrived in my Christmas Stocking. I wonder what kind of business it served in it’s former life, announcing the arrival of a new customer?

I am collecting beautiful objects. A pair of shoes. Some glasses.
Telephone. Typewritter.
…Their delicate and finished appearance is friendly.
And they are quiet.
~From the movie The Science of Sleep

Books have always called my name. “Come look!” they say from their shelf. So I am especially enjoying the book Etcetera, by Sibella Court. You might have read the recommendation about this book at Donna’s blog or at Ro’s blog. It’s full of yummy photography of all kinds of collections displayed in interesting ways. Being freshly inspired, I am starting a new collection of photographs of my collections.

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen
from one to another mind.
~James Russell Lowell

My pile of fresh new books includes one about working intuitively in the studio. A suggested exercise using a burning candle to “paint” with smoke has caught my eye and my imagination. How fun! What a great color!

I’m inspired by a book of interviews of artists in New Mexico and peeks into their studio spaces. My own studio remains unfinished, but the insulation is here and will be installed in the ceiling soon. I am looking forward to the added warmth! It’s time to think about the finishing touches and final arrangement of equipment and working spaces.

Books are not made for furniture,
but there is nothing else that
so beautifully furnishes a house.
~Henry Ward Beecher

For rich images and insight into process, I am reading Histories Real and Imagined. It is a detailed look into Lissa Hunter’s body of work as a “basket maker” and assemblage artist. I love her work which incorporates natural objects such as rocks, mark making, and objects she has made. I’m looking forward to finding a cozy spot and flipping through the pages at a leisurely pace.

I love her because she makes things.
You know? She makes things with her hands.
~From the movie The Science of Sleep

It’s time now to begin on a series of collage for the International Collage Exchange. I enjoy the process of making 13 or so collage. Having a due date is motivating and I always learn a lot as I work my way through the series. Then there is the fun of sending them off to the world, and seeing a return package come to my mail box, plump with collage from artists all around the globe. This year my series will revolve around mark making.

Re-Fresh Your Creative Practice is a new coaching group I developed for artists which is beginning soon. You can read more about here.

A friendly hello to all the new followers. It is my pleasure to meet you! It’s deliciously pleasant looking forward to this Fresh New Year, with time in the studio and time creating. Happy Fresh New Year to you all!