Afterwords: Shards and Sand

After I posted “Shards and Sand” several days ago about our trip to the beaches of Normandy, so many of you responded with thoughts and memories about war and peace and humanity. Thank you.

In that post, I wrote, “Part of our duty as artists is to pass on tradition and preserve our cultural history in various formats, to express human emotion and help us all to feel hope and peace of mind.” My artist friend Pamela Ferguson, a wonderful poet and painter, sent this note with a poem she wrote which will speak to all of us.

“I was moved by your post/blog on Normandy, Lyn. I’ve been to France but not there. I can imagine the voices who whispered to you. I look forward to the art that comes from your experience. This poem wrote itself after I read your blog. I wanted to share it with you.”
Here is the poem, brilliantly composed by Pam from the point of view of a young soldier watching the incoming invasion. I superimposed the words on the photograph of a bunker at Pointe du Hoc in which he might well have been waiting.

Isn’t the power of artists inspiring each other amazing? I am so grateful to Pam for sharing this poem which I know will stay with each of you as is has with me, opening our minds and hearts.

Shards and Sand

Pointe du Hoc cliffs

We’ve just returned from a two week trip to the Normandy Beaches where the most significant victory of the Western Allies in the Second World War took place on June 6, 1944. The DDay military invasion that helped to end World War II was one the most ambitious and consequential military campaigns in human history.

Both of our fathers fought in the Second World War and this trip felt as much like a pilgrimage as a history lesson.

I’m still processing the profound personal effects from this trip, but the experience taught me that it is impossible for the human race to be unaffected by war. It also reinforced the idea of the universal hero archetype who starts with a humble birth, then overcomes evil and death.

The story of Pointe du Hoc defines heroism. Pointe du Hoc was the location of a series of German bunkers and machine gun posts. On D-Day, the United States Army Provisional Ranger Group attacked and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs while being fired on by German soldiers from the clifftops.

When we visited the location, the bomb craters and bunkers were still there at the top of the high cliffs. Wildflowers bloomed around the ruined machine gun bunkers.

I collected a few wildflowers from this place as well as rose petals, small sticks, sand and shells from Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. These Shards of remembrance will ground me in the feeling collectiveness and gratitude I felt while walking the sands of the Normandy beaches.

Part of our duty as artists is to pass on tradition and preserve our cultural history in various formats, to express human emotion and help us all to feel hope and peace of mind. I’m not sure how this profound journey I took will manifest itself in future artwork, but I know that it will. These little Shards will be a starting point.

A French family at the American Cemetery in Normandy

The church at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first town in Normandy liberated by American paratroopers

 

 

 

 

 

Look what wandered in early . . . .

I had planned to wait until Monday morning to publish this post, but Monday morning is kind of a busy time for a lot of people. So, surprise!

I worked this weekend finishing the new online workshop called Wanderers. It’s done! I love it! It was such fun. I really put myself on the spot, not knowing how the final pieces would turn out, but they look just like themselves!

Here are the two new Wanderers, demos from the workshop, who now inhabit this planet – one is free standing and one is wall-hung. You’ll watch them getting built from start to finish in the video lessons.

Those of you who are SHARDS readers know that if you enroll in the course right now, you have a Coupon Code. Coupons are new to me, but it’s a great way to thank you for subscribing to the blog and for being interested in new workshops.

The Workshop has eight videos and is over three hours long (in manageable bites). You have lifetime access. Tuition is $39 (cheap!) but for the next three days, you can use a coupon for $10 off (cheaper!). The code to put in when you check out is WANDER10. It will work until 6:00 PM on Wednesday, July 27th.

Oh, yes – here is the link to the course:

WANDERERS: Enigmatic Figures Wrapped with Grace and Spirit

I cannot thank you enough for the encouragement and the good feedback.

If you find any glitches in the new workshop, please send me an email – and have fun Wandering!

There’s something about a kimono . . .

 

Luna, Lyn Belisle, Mixed Media on folded paper, 30×40″

TAH DAH! New mixed-media class in my online Studio Classroom,  starting today! THE ENDURING KIMONO: FORM AND PATTERN

My old, old, OLD friends remember when my signature pieces were large-scale origami kimonos done with mixed media techniques before any of us knew what mixed media was. I loved these pieces and still go back to folding origami as a meditative practice.

This course was developed during the Pandemic as one of my first online teaching classes. It’s an all level exploration of paper folding and surface treatment which results in really enchanting paper kimono forms that translate into all sizes and formats.

I haven’t posted a new class to my online Teachable Studio in quite a while – part of the purpose of getting this course ready was to remember how to use Teachable! But it all worked, and the course is up with five instructional videos. The introduction is a free preview, so please take a look.

Boro Kimono, Lyn Belisle, 11×14″

But wait!! There’s more – for SHARDS peeps, there is a Coupon Code! I wanted to learn how to create coupons, as well, so I actually made one for a $10 discount code. The regular price of the class is $29 (cheap) but with the discount, it is only $19 (cheaper). The code is KIM19 and it is good until next Friday. Just go to the link below, check out the preview, and if you want to join the class, use the code for your discount in the check-out coupon box. I tried it myself and it seems to work – whew.

THE ENDURING KIMONO: FORM AND PATTERN

Meanwhile, I’m having my first group in-person workshop at my San Antonio studio this weekend – wish you were here! Stay safe, stay cool.

 

 

We interrupt the blog post we were working on for this message . . .

I just got an email from Lora Murphy, the genius behind Painting with Fire. She’s going to be featuring one of my workshops this Wednesday, which is a couple of months before it was scheduled.

Here’s the info:

This mini-workshop combines Spirit figure construction with encaustic surface design and a bunch of other fun stuff. Remember the toilet paper rolls that I’ve been saving? Here’s how to use them! Gauze, Paper, Plaster, + Wax is a 45-minute treasury of techniques and inspiration (if I do say so myself.)

It’s kind of a prelude to my other workshop, which comes up in 2023 on Painting with Fire, called The Shaman Spirit in Paper and Wax.

If you have been thinking of joining Painting with Fire, do it now and you can see the Gauze, Plaster, Paper + Wax workshop day after tomorrow. Plus, you’ll get the Shaman workshop and about a zillion other workshops by a zillion other fantastic teachers in encaustic and mixed media.(A zillion = 26)

Some of the other teachers are Roxanne Evans Stout, Crystal Marie Neubauer, and my Enso Circle partner, Michelle Belto. Subjects include things like eco-printing and large-scale pouring and found object inclusions and — well, it’s a very cool program. And you don’t need a ton of new material and equipment to participate. Heck, in my class this Wednesday you just need some wax and a toilet paper roll – and a few other things. Actually, here’s the short materials list.

I know I’ve talked about Painting with Fire before, but the email from Lora remind me to remind YOU that you can register any time. Class started April 27th but since these are prerecorded videos, you get instant access to the already released classes when you sign up. Classes are delivered each Wednesday approximately 12 noon EST as prerecorded video and once they are available you can watch whenever you wish. You get lifetime access to all classes.

Here’s that signup link!

OK, now back to my other blog post in progress – it’s about provenance and the soul of objects. I’m enjoying writing about that and will post it soon.

 

Descanso: art and healing

I am sharing this story with you without additional commentary other than the plea that we all hold in our hearts the healing power of art and our profound gratitude to those who make it.

DESCANSO:

A cross placed at the site of a violent, unexpected death, in memoriam.

A state of quiet and re-creation

A pause, a rest, a haven

The Email Conversation, June 22, 2022

Lyn, I wanted to share the piece I created using the “Paloma” face I purchased from you some time ago. I created the Santa Madre Guadalupe altar “descanso” to remember all children who have died-victims of violence. It is dedicated to the little angels killed at the Uvalde school shooting. The “milagros” represent the kids. The hearts represent the broken hearts of their moms/dads. ~ Enid

Enid, this is beautiful and bittersweet. I would love to share it on my blog with your permission. Uvlade is so close to San Antonio and all of here are still mourning, as is the rest of the nation. Would you tell me a little bit about yourself as background? Would it be OK to share this with others as a healing gesture? Art heals in so many ways. I am very grateful to you for sharing this, and the little milagros speak louder than words could. ~ Lyn

The Response and the Story, June 23, 2022

I am 72, and an adult survivor of childhood abuse, neglect, maltreatment, and violence, I have been involved with, engaged in some form of PTSD recovery therapy for more years than I can count. While providing some small relief benefits, traditional talk therapy failed to help me move forward, to move pass the trauma. Taking my well-being and mental health into my own hands, I started to create art as an outlet to gain insight into my childhood experiences and to speak my truth.

It’s been 2 years now since I started creating my “healing art”, and I am just starting, just learning how to use healing art to express emotions too difficult to say or share while building inner strengths and developing inner emotional resilience.

My creation, La Santa Madre, expresses my deepest emotions in a way that words could never express and reflects my culture, religious upbringing, world views and values. Lyn’s clay art woman faces have been part of my artistic creations and personal journeys to mental, physical, and spiritual well-being for some years now. I start out every journey by holding and talking to the faces, asking,” Who, what do you want to be?” I listen and wait sometimes for years to hear the faint voice.

On May 24, 2022, I heard Paloma-Lyn’s creation, say to me, “I am the mother of the angelitos of Uvalde and of all children-victims of violence.” That day, I started creating La Santa Madre Guadalupe Descanso . The children milagro charms represent the many children who have lost their lives to violence. The corazones represent their parents’ hearts, broken and too often buried with their children.

One milagrito is my son Billy who died in 1992 as a result of a driver’s poor judgement. One milagrito represents me and the childhood I lost.

Enid Sepúlveda Rodríguez
New Mexico
6/23/2022

Thank you, Enid. You have touched many hearts today.

Lyn

The Spirits of Austin

Sometimes the timing and the place are exactly right for creating together. The two-day Spirit Doll workshop in Austin was one of those times, shadowed by the Uvalde tragedy, inspired by the wish for immersion in making art as spiritual healing.

There were ten of us in the workshop and by the time it was over, we were a bonded community. Some came from Austin, some from Dallas, Houston and other places, but the Austin School of Fiber Arts was our heart-home for the weekend.

Lynne Brotman, director of the ASFA, has a wonderful space available for workshops in the newly-arty southeast section of Austin.

The first day, we worked with the basic spirit doll armature construction.

Everyone talked about how the word “doll” connotates a toy, but figures like these are ancient and profound. No one had a better word, however – it’s always problematic describing this art/craft genre of figure-making.

We all completed our figures, all started the same way, all finished in different ways reflecting the intentions of the makers.

On Day Two, we broke out the plaster and the air-dry clay and built armatures using a different method still with sticks and very basic, natural materials – like our toilet paper rolls!

Patrice put feet on hers!

 

At the end of the second day, we looked at all the spirits we had created. They mirrored the community that we had made over the weekend – a group of like-minded people coming together for a purpose that revealed itself most clearly at the end of the process. I am so grateful to each of the artists in the workshop for teaching me lessons about ingenuity and generosity.

I’m inviting you to share in the workshop experience by watching this video of how we started, what we did, and how we finished.

Link

I’m planning another Spirit Doll workshop in San Antonio in July. Let me know if you might be interested and I”ll put you on the email list. In times like these, we need all of the good spirits we can get!

Thanks for reading SHARDS – take good care, and stay cool.

Plein Aire isn’t as simple as it sounds!

I have always loved Vikki Fields’ work. She is perhaps the only painter I know who works exclusively from life, never from photographs, and her En Plein Aire landscapes are stunning. She sometimes spends hours in the outdoors at the same time every day capturing the light on a particular tree or mountain.

I own this small painting that she did of Arroyo Seco near Taos – it’s a treasure.

Taos by Vikki fields

So when the Witte Museum asked the Art League to partner with them in teaching a Plein Aire painting class to celebrate to opening of their new exhibition, Vikki was the first person I asked to teach it. She agreed!

Fifteen of us signed up and met at the Witte last Sunday afternoon (hot, hot!) as Vikki guided us through the plein aire preparation process.

Vikki Fields discusses choices and vistas

Most of us painted from the shady balcony overlooking the San Antonio River.

The view was beautiful — but, where do you start?? It’s sort of a green blur to me.

Some people used watercolors, some painted with oils, others, like me, started with a pencil sketch.

I hadn’t painted from life in about 20 years, so I had to try and remember how to “look” at the subject in a different way. For me, it works if I can flatten it out in my imagination, like an illustration. For a painter like Vikki and some of the others, it’s a process of starting with values and underpainting.

Three hours went by remarkably quickly. If it hadn’t been so hot, we probably would have stayed on, but we went inside the (air-conditioned!) museum to look at our work and discuss it.

The differences in approach were fascinating – take a look at some of the paintings. We weren’t expected to finish, nor to create a masterpiece since we were just working on studies, but I loved seeing the results.

So here’s mine – remember when I said I thought like an illustrator rather than a painter? Good thing we weren’t supposed to paint a masterpiece!

The huge lessons I learned were PATIENCE and OBSERVATION. It was really hard for me to slow down and truly look at what was going on with the rocks and the water since I don’t have a painter’s eye for suggesting many details with one brush stroke. It was also a relief to know that I could still draw – whew! But painting? Not so much.

Here’s my friend Lara Hye Coh – now this girl can paint!

A million thanks to Vikki for her encouragement and teaching skills. And many thanks to Mary Margret McAllen, Director of Special Projects at the Witte Museum, who cooked up this great collaborative workshop!

This Plein Aire Workshop was designed to compliment the wonderful exhibit now at the Witte called James Ferdinand McCan: A Texas Artist Rediscovered. It features more than fifty of McCan’s paintings—most of which are rarely displayed to the public. And we in the class got to see them even before the exhibit opened.

McCan was a plein aire painter, friends with Julian Onderdonk, and he captured the incredible change in animals and landscapes that occurred in the 30 short years (between 1895-1925) he was painting in Texas. Please go see the exhibit! It’s open until October 2nd at the Witte.

Here’s an example of one of McCan’s remarkable paintings.

Mossy Oak and Bluebonnets, James Ferdinand McCan

Want to give plein aire painting a try? One of the things I did before the workshop was to set up a suggested materials list for those who signed up. For those of you who would like some guidance with materials, here is a link to a list of suggested supplies to purchase online. They are portable and not very expensive. Go for it!

I am so glad I had this learning experience!! It was humbling and exhilarating, all at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wax on the Water (California Dreamin’)

Morro Bay, CA

It really does seem like a dream. I was somehow at Morro Bay on the coast of California with my heroes, friends, and mentors.We were at an in-person gathering, talking about the art of encaustic and learning so mych from each other. People I had known only from Zoom were giving me real hugs. Even Lora Murphy, founder of Painting with Fire, was there from Ireland.

Me with Lora Murphy – what a brilliant artist she is –

But wait! It was real! My first trip out of Texas in almost three years really was to California to the Wax on the Water Convergence, hosted by the International Encaustic Artists.

Juror Pamela Smith Hudson discusses the work in the IEA Convergence Exhibition of encaustic art.

My dear friend Michelle Belto went with me and gave a wonderful opening program on creating authentic art. It set the tone for the amazing conference.

I brought home lots of great memories – a wonderful workshop with Jay and Ann Bonestell, the swanky dinner at Windows on the Water honoring Trish Seggebruch and Lora Murphy, meeting fellow Enso Circle residents in person –

One of my favorite stories is meeting Barbara Sitar, the former Morro Bay Art Center Gallery Director. Barbara has exhibited and been a featured artist in galleries and other installations in Europe and the USA. During her thirty years as an art professional, she has been a curator, mentor and artist in her native Slovakia in Prague, Vienna, Germany and America.

Talking with Barbara, whose work was in the IEA Exhibition, I found out that she was a native Czech speaker. I introduced her to my husband Bill, who also speaks Czech, and they carried on a happy conversation about Prague and families and all kinds of Czech-related topics. It was fun to watch (even though I didn’t understand a word of it).

The nicest coincidence, though, was that in the IEA Members’ Art Exchange, I won Barbara’s work! It’s an encaustic piece depicting a beautiful Morro Bay white heron. It has a new home in Texas 🙂

Barbara Sitar, 2022

If you would like to see an overview of this wonderful gathering, please view the video – Sean, our videographer, did a stellar job capturing the joy of ConVergence in just five minutes of film.

Master.mp4 from Seannie Cameras on Vimeo.

There was also a good article from San Luis Obispo New Times about the Conference. Many thanks to my fellow IEA Board members whose hard work made this an unforgettable experience. Here’s to next year!!

The Spirit Doll hits the road to Austin

It’s been approximately four years and twenty five days since I last got to teach an in-person Spirit Doll workshop (but who’s counting??). That one was at the Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram, Texas – it seems like forever ago. Like a whole pandemic ago . . .

I have said often that when times get uncertain, I return to clay and figurative sculpture as the “comfort practice” in my studio. There’s something about making a tribe of small figures from natural materials that creates a sense of optimism, particularly since humans have been doing this for millenia.

Lately, I’ve been working on a new series of Spirit Dolls that are so much fun and fulfilling – here’s a look at those. Remember what the base is made from? Yep, recycled TP cardboard rolls.

Use what you have, right?? And pretty soon, you have a bunch of these little figures marching along in their underwear on the way to Austin.

Why Austin?? Well might you ask – because I’m finally finally teaching an in-person Spirit Doll class there at the Austin School of Fiber Arts!! HOORAY!!

On the first day of the two-day workshop, we will explore the simplest form of a spirit doll, a figure crafted from twigs and twine adorned with scraps of fabric and fiber.

On the 2nd day, we’ll work with a paper and plaster armature to create a small Spirit Doll sculpture which will be wrapped and adorned with fiber, fabric ribbon, beads, bone – any materials that reflects your aesthetic and spiritual intention. These figures can be free-standing, or wall hung.

These art dolls will become a beloved part of your body of work in fiber and mixed media. Well, of course!

The cost for the two-day workshop is just $150, which is pretty reasonable these days, and each day we will work from 10-4. I hope you’ll consider coming to this class – I’m excited about it, and I like the facility a lot.

There is a limit if EIGHT students – so if you’re considering it, register early. I will be providing three Earthshard faces for each participant. You’ll bring your own sticks and fabric and we can play to our heat’s content.

 

Here’s the link to information and registration – 

ENROLL

I hope to see you in May. Now, I need to get some clothes on those spirit dolls before they hit the road.