Susan K. Miller Watercolor and Collage


sketching in Marsala, SicilWhere do my collages start? Something grabs me: a scene, a color, a piece of paper.

I started adding collage elements to watercolors over 10 years ago because it was a fascinating way to add centuries of color and texture to Greek and Italian buildings, especially when using local ephemera.

And then it took over pretty much everything I did. Mostly because I love the surprises and whimsy I can introduce with found papers (the portholes of a boat that are 7-11 cups, the roof that's a chocolate wrapper). It's the same excitement I get when solving a puzzle, finding the exact right thing to put in just the right place- especially when it's not even close to what I thought I was looking for!

"Fall down seven times, get up eight" is an oft-repeated key to a successful life, and it feels like my best collages are like that - built on the "bones" of an earlier (and usually radically different) concept that didn't quite come to fruition.

The process is collage ... décollage ... collage ... décollage ... and repeat... until finally ... Yes! (It cracks me up that "décollage" is the French word for 'takeoff' of a plane: it comes 'unglued' from the runway!) In peeling, ripping, sanding, scraping, and/or cutting off previous layers, I find "a thread to pull' (figuratively if not literally), sending me off in a new and, hopefully, better direction.

And so a pond is a transformed cityscape which morphed out of a harbor scene. And the pond has much more depth and mystery because of the textures and shadows of other colors and forms of the earlier ideas (which we will not call failures).


Susan is an elected member of the Women Painters of Washington, and a signature member of the National Collage Society and the Northwest Watercolor Society. She has studied in the U.S. and abroad with watercolor and mixed media artists, including Frank Webb, Charles Reid, Gerald Brommer, Mel Stabin, and at ISS Taos.

Susan’s paintings have been juried into national and regional watercolor and collage shows, including the Northwest Watercolor Society International Open exhibit. They have won multiple awards in the National Collage Society annual exhibits and Northwest Collage Society shows, among others.


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