Another gift of artistic diversion for you – Collage on Canvas

There’s a helplessness in knowing this situation going to get worse before it gets better. My thoughts are with all of you as we circle the wagons and wait.

Just for inspiration, I’m giving you another little downloadable book about one of my most popular workshops called Creating a Dimensional Collage on Canvas.  It’s an illustrated step-by-step guide to composing a personal art collage that includes three-dimensional objects as well as images and textures.

It’s available for purchase as a Kindle book, but I’m giving you the PDF version which you can easily download and explore for free. You’ll find the access link a bit further down.

Here’s a full version of the collage example on the cover, along with another example using the one of the same faces with a different approach and emphasis.

You can see that there are all kinds of little items connected to the canvas that add symbolic and textural complexity to the compositions.

I hope you try it – it’s really fun, especially if you have some meaningful photos that you can print out.

CLICK BELOW ON THE DOWNLOAD LINK FOR THE BOOK (the file is compressed so it won’t be too big for you to get it to your computer)

Collage on Canvas – Lyn Belisle_compressed

NOTE: This project was especially designed for the wonderful women of the Gaian Soul Retreat at Aldermarsh on Whidbey Island led by my beloved friend Joanna Colbert Powell in 2015. “Creating a Dimensional Collage on Canvas” unites the visual, the spiritual, and the joyful aspects of the creative process. You may substitute your own “ingredients” from the Materials List on page three in the book.

Even if you don’t decide to do the project itself, it may give you some ideas for digging through family photos in this unexpectedly quiet time. You can also take inventory of your own collage materials. Inevitably, this always leads me to new ideas and happy distractions.

If you want to see the project in action, this video shows one of my first Collage on Canvas workshops, which was held in 2012 at my kitchen table even before I had my big studio on Nacogdoches Road.

I think you’ll especially like the personal photographs that the participants used with many different materials and techniques.

 

Know that I miss seeing you all, but one of the lessons we are learning through all of this is that it is a luxury to be with friends in person at a gathering of like minds – I hope I never take it for granted again! Stay safe in your creative confinement 🙂

 

Lift your spirit (dolls) in uncertain times – free for the making

Hello from a planet holding its breath, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. This is not the post I though I’d be writing.

However, when I got an thank-you message from a woman in France this morning, I decided to write a blog post that might be of help to those whose plans have rearranged themselves because of caution and semi-isolation. Read on.

Hilda’s message described her frustration with trying to purchase one of my my Kindle books from French Amazon. She had tried three times, and while she kept getting refunds, she really wanted the book.

I asked for her email and sent her the PDF version as a gift. Here’s the note she wrote back, with a translation:

Wow.  “Like all the French population, we are confined because of the Corona virus…this book will allow me to escape for a moment and not let myself panic.

Right after I read that, I got another message on my Etsy Shop site thanking me for a custom listing for her Spirit Doll faces and saying, “These faces will be therapeutic during these uncertain times.”

Finally a light dawneda perfect project for us might be creating and sharing a bunch of little Spirit-Lifting Dolls made from natural materials that remind us of simple endurance and resilience?

We can stay busy collecting materials. We can keep these small sculptures as reminders of hope, and also give them to friends to lift their spirits! This might be a good project for kids, too – it’s a bit old-fashioned, but that can be a good thing.

So here’s some free stuff that I’m sharing with you in in this post, hoping we can lift some spirits:

  • A free book from me on how to make a spirit doll – just click the link below to download the PDF:

Spirit Doll Book

  • A list of materials to make a Sprint doll – just click the link below to download the PDF:

Spirit Doll Materials List

  • A guide to making your own air-dry clay Spirit Doll faces with craft store materials – just click the link below to download the PDF. You can also make faces in many other ways – drawing on watercolor-paper circles, painting on rocks . . . .

Making Air Dry Clay Faces Instructions

  • A list of nice quotations about hope and encouragement to cut out and put inside your Spirit-Lifting doll or tie on a tag on the outsidejust click the link below to download the PDF:

SPIRIT LIFTING QUOTES

  • A fun video on “short-cut” Spirit Dolls made with wooden grilling skewers that you can make in half an hour – click on the image to open it in You Tube:

Hang on to these instructions and resources. You may want to come back to them in a few weeks if you’re not totally stir-crazy right this minute.

It may be that we will get deeper in to hunkering down and distancing for the good of all. If so, remember that you might feel isolated, but you are never alone – I’m sending all good wishes for you to keep your spirits up, your bodies healthy, and your creativity flowing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shards and Tesserae

Christa Lamb is a mosaic artist from Cottonwood HeightsUtah, who has ordered small shard faces from my Etsy shop several times. She sent me a message last week saying, “I thought you might be interested in seeing how I use your beautiful faces in my work,” and she attached some photos.

 I was amazed at her work. I often wonder how artists use these faces, but never expected to see them incorporated into such fantastic mosaics!

I asked her if I could share them with SHARDS readers, and she agreed – thanks, Christa!

She sent several more examples, all of which use mixed media materials to create rich panoramas in tiles, glass and found objects. I love these fabulous “storyboards.”

Here are some more of Christa’s mosaics:

The details are endlessly intriguing.

Look at this mysterious mixture, below!

I found more of her work on Flickr – along with some gorgeous photos of Utah.
Thanks, Christa – so grateful for your work and your email ! Do you show your work in a gallery? We’d love to see more!
Keep in touch,
Lyn

 

 

 

Abstraction/Non-Objective: the emancipation of the mind ?

I had the great pleasure of working with five friends, all whom create artwork that I admire, in an abstract painting workshop at my Studio last Friday.

From left: Pamela Ferguson, Bibi Saidi, Carolyn Royall, Robin Gara – not pictured: Nancy Vandenburg

Part of the fun was sharing thoughts about abstraction and non-objective painting. Here’s one of my favorite quotes written by Arshile Gorky:

“Abstraction allows man to see with his mind
what he cannot physically see with his eyes…
Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible,
to extract the infinite out of the finite.
It is the emancipation of the mind.
It is an explosion into unknown areas.” 

Emancipating one’s mind is a tough assignment. It’s human nature to try to direct the outcome of our work, and it’s difficult to let go of that control. We followed a “map” of steps to an unknown outcome. You can download the workshop outline here to see how we painted our abstract studies.

I try to develop a slightly different plan of attack for each painting workshop. Individual students react in different ways to techniques that get them to break the ice on a blank canvas. But we almost always start with mark-making, usually asemic writing.

It’s super-important to agree at the beginning that we will not create a masterpiece in three hours, but we might learn some new approaches to making meaningful paintings. Here are some of the first stages or our warmup:

And here are some in the second stage:

When you watch the video, you can see what some of our results were – all interesting! Several of the artists said that they were out of their comfort zone, but pleased with the final outcome, which may be the whole point!

Video Link

For further study, you can read a good explanation of Abstraction in Art from the Tate Museum.

Thanks for reading SHARDS – and remember, if you and a group of four or five friends  would like to organize a workshop at my studio, just send me an email!

Beeswax and Clay: experimental play

Studio work is not all directed toward completed pieces of art – sometimes the best part is experimentation without expectations. Whether it works or doesn’t work, the results add to the body of knowledge about the subject at hand. I got to play a bit at my studio yesterday, and learned a few things.

I’ve been doing a lot of mixed media sculpture lately, and I wanted to play with beeswax on textured fired unglazed clay (bisque). The video camera happened to be set up above the work table, so you get to see what I was playing with.

This is not a tutorial at all – it’s just me, fooling around and making comments 🙂

I learned a couple of things from these experiments:

  • White clay is a better match for beeswax than red clay
  • Eucalyptus might be a better shade of walnut ink for this process because it’s not as intense as Terra Cotta
  • Heavily textured clay surfaces don’t take the beeswax as successfully as lightly textured surfaces
  • Photo-transfers on clay are not particularly beeswax-friendly because they are not porous enough due to the transfer process

New things I want to try because of these experiments:

  • Using the same technique on paper clay to test its absorbancy
  • Doing more intricate scoring and carving into the beeswax surface once it’s cooled on the clay
  • Heating the beeswax with a heat gun to “drive it” into the clay surface to see what happens to the finish
  • Adding metallic wax to the beeswax surface aft it has cooled.

I’ve filed this information away until I need it – probably at one of those “Aha!” moments when I realize that this technique is exactly what I need to complete a work in progress. Or maybe not! But everything you learn doesn’t have to be put to practical use – it’s OK to play.

 

Medical Miracles and Healing Art

I’ve just returned from two intense weeks San Diego with my brother, who lives in Austin. My brother (who is just 14 months younger than I am) needed a very critical and specialized operation, and UC San Diego Health is the worldwide leader for this procedure, called pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) surgery. The surgery was – hooray –  a huge and miraculous success thanks to incredibly skilled doctors and expert staff.

If you’ve been through  a similar experience, you know that you spend a lot of time at the hospital waiting for results, which can be stressful. Fortunately, the UC hospital campus was a haven of healing, in no small part due to its art.

The Jacobs Healing Arts Collection is exhibited throughout the hospital, from hallways to patient rooms. The collection includes more than 150 individual pieces, including paintings, sculptures and digital photographs.

I spent many hours looking at the art and finding fascinating details that engaged me. This painting (above), Roses and Two Lemons by Manny Farber (1996) is an oil on board featured on the first floor of Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health.

Below is another piece that fascinated me – it’s a huge spectacular fiber sculpture/canvas behind glass that appears to have been made from partially cut canvas which was sliced into tiny “tiles,” then folded and gilded.

Take a look at a couple of detail photos, below. It’s hard to figure out how this was done, but the results are amazing – kinda like the surgery!

One more small collage by an elevator caught my eye  – it reminds me of our Citra-Solv workshops:

After having time to really look at these artworks, it occurred to me that true “healing art” does not mean “inspirational” posters of hands and sunsets and lotuses (although those can have their place).

The real curative power of creativity comes from authentic work by artists whose message is engaging and intriguing like those in the UC San Diego Hospital’s Jacobs Collection.

Even when we are most stressed and anxious, carefully curated art helps us think and question – how did the artist do that? What do those shapes mean? Why do those lines feel visually serene? How in the world did the artist mix that color?

It’s more than just a distraction or decoration – it’s a comforting connection to human creativity that is ageless and infinite.

It’s good to be back home. Thanks to the wonderful UC hospital and staff in San Diego for performing healing miracles!

And thanks to the artists who help us heal by keeping us focused on our universal humanity.

 

 

 

 

“Where can I get . . . ? (my top five sources – non-Amazon!)

The New Year is a great time to identify the creative materials you use the most .  These are your signature media, your “desert island” necessities. This list can help you in your resolution to streamline and simplify your studio space once you know what you will really use.

I know what MY own signature media are. Here are the Top Five that I use extensively in my own work and in almost all of my workshops (Raise your hand if you’ve used walnut ink because you learned about it in one of our workshops!)

  1. Tsukineko Walnut Ink
  2. Beeswax
  3. Book Foil
  4. Sari Silk
  5. Artificial Sinew

I get a lot of questions about where to find these materials since they are not really mainstream art/craft materials. I prefer to buy from places other than Amazon (although the Big A is certainly fast and convenient).

But when I can obtain my signature materials from other artists or independent retailers, I try to share those sources.

Here they are – enjoy looking! :

Tsukineko Walnut Ink:

https://www.imaginecrafts.com/walnut-ink/view-grid/1351

I have always ordered my walnut ink spray from Imagine Crafts. They have friendly customer service and ship quickly.  It’s often hard to find walnut ink at places like Michael’s or JoAnns (a lot of people have never heard of it) but it’s always in stock at Imagine.

If you browse around the Tsukineko inks, you’ll see that there is a pastel set (Cherry Blossom, Cornflower, Willow, Lilac) as well as an earth-tone set (Java, Eucalyptus, Walnut, Terra Cotta). Either set of four bottles retails for $23. Any color can also be purchase singly for $5.70.

Beeswax:

There are many different forms of beeswax and thousands of ways to use it.  I use beeswax for encaustic collage and for assemblage. I use it on clay and on fiber. My preferred beeswax is all natural White Beeswax pellets, refined in the USA without any chemical bleaching aids. My favorite source for this is Swans Candles in Tenino, WA.

Swans has a fine selection of beeswax and other encaustic supplies (including Damar Varnish if you want to make your own encaustic medium). Their prices are excellent. You can buy a pound of Natural White Beeswax pellets for $9.95.

Most retail art stores now sell beeswax and other encaustic supplies, but you can expect to pay almost twice as much per pound. Even on Amazon, a pound of R&F Encaustic White Beeswax lists at $18.86.

Book Foil:

This foil, also known as Deco Foil, is generally used for transferring metallic finishes to craft projects using an adhesive. Here’s a link to a video that shows demos about that. However, if you’ve taken an encaustic workshop with me, you know that we also use it to create fine gold marks onto a waxed surface.

One of the best places to order this foil is Dharma Trading Company. They are generally known for their fiber art supplies, but you will love their site for lots of other reasons! For Deco Foil, for example, they have the best selection and lowest price of anyone, including Amazon. Currently, they sell a cylinder of five sheets, 6×10″, for just $3.89.

Sari Silk:

I discovered my source, Felt Better, on Etsy several years ago, and I have ordered from them many times.

This is what the owner, Michelle, says about her sari silk: “The beautiful, exotic sari ribbon I carry is all the best things about recycling that I love. First and foremost, it helps our fragile planet by making use of material that would end up in landfills. Did you know that it helps women too? It’s a fair trade product that works close with women co-op groups, insures they get a fair wage, that helps them support their families….and most importantly, no child labor is involved.”

I use sari silk for so many things – for journals, assemblage, spirit dolls, and just to hang in my studio for pure enjoyment of its colors, history, and textures. A 100 gram skein (about 45 yards) costs $12.50 at Felt Better.

Artificial Sinew:

Do the words “cat gut” make you shudder? What about “sheep sinew?” Those were traditional material used for lacing and tying leather and gourds. Fortunately, artificial sinew is now available because I use a lot of it! It’s a material I use for clay assemblage, bead stringing, fiber art, and almost anything else that requires tying one thing to another thing.

I used to buy it at Tandy’s Leather Store, but have discover a new online treasure trove. The Thread Exchange specializes in the kinds of thread that are not sold in stores, including a huge selection of artificial sinew. The company is based in North Carolina and its website is user-friendly.

They have almost twenty colors of sinew, although I am partial to the Natural and the other earth colors like Terra Cotta. A 17-yard roll is about $5.00 and a 265-yard roll is only about $15.00.

For 2020, I would like to make a commitment to bring into my workspace only those materials that I really need, use and love. Hmmmm… it’s not always easy, because experimenting with new things is part of the game.

So here I go, tempting you with great sources for wonderful materials that may be new to  — I hope some of these will inspire your work for the new year. Thanks for reading SHARDS!

 

Two Pamelas and me, scumbling and waxing to our hearts’ content

Wednesday’s Votive Candle Screen get-together was a de-light – I was joined in the studio by Pam B. and Pam F.  and the three of us spent a relaxing afternoon experimenting with surface design on paper for a candle screen project.  I’ve taught workshops on this topic before, but this session had a more intensive focus on hand-enhanced decorative papers.

This project is perfect for the holidays. Paper is folded and slit in a way that allows it to open in the middle for a little battery candle to fit inside. I wrote and article about this for Cloth Paper Scissors magazine a few years ago.

Alas, the magazine is no longer around, but I still have the article. Here’s an example of the folded paper votive screen:

We spent more time working on surface design than we did on decorating the finished votive screens.

First experiment – we covered a sheet of 9×12″ lightweight watercolor paper with three colors of acrylic paint, dry-brushing and “scumbling” the colors together. After that first layer dried, we stenciled over it with gold acrylic paint – here’s what that looked like:

Our next experiment involved Italian decorative paper with gold writing on it. We made loose brushstrokes of melted beeswax over the paper, then sprayed it with various hues of walnut ink. Here’s one of the Pamelas rubbing off some of the walnut ink from the cooled wax:

This paper folded beautifully into the votive screen shape:

Here are some more photos of various stages of the process of assembling the votive screens. I honestly don’t know which treatment I liked better – the scumble and stencil, or the beeswax and walnut ink.

The votive screens turned out well, but all of us decided that the hand-decorated paper surfaces were the real winners. Both of the techniques we used – scumble and stencil and beeswax and walnut ink –  would lend themselves beautifully to abstract painting, which will be my next workshop coming up in February of 2020.

Thanks to the two Pamelas for experimenting with me!

Here’s the list of materials if you want to try this on your own:

Votive Candle Cards Materials

  • 9×12 construction paper or other medium weight crafting paper
  • Two 4.5×11 pieces of decorative paper
  • 4 2.5” square pieces of translucent vellum or translucent rice paper
  • Two ½” bands of contrasting paper for side trim
  • Compass or large round hole punch
  • Craft glue or double sided tape
  • Stamps, stickers, metallic pens – whatever “de-lights” your heart
  • Small twigs, reeds or sticks
  • A battery votive tea light

As a special gift to you, I’m sharing the original article that I wrote for Cloth Paper Scissors with all of the directions and how-to photos for making your own mixed-media votive candle screens. I hope you enjoy it! How about making one for every person at your holiday dinner table?

VotiveArticleCPS

Happy Holidays, and thanks for reading SHARDS!

Photo by Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Friday – sorta like Black Friday, but with a reward after the commercial

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and instead of running around shopping, I’m enjoying a gray rainy Friday just writing and rambling.

In this SHARDS post, you’ll find:

  • 1. An idea for my next eBook
  • 2. A Black Friday commercial (well, a Gray Friday one)
  • 3. A reward of a free air-dry clay technique demo

1. I’m thinking about air-dry clay. I started a book on this topic a couple of years ago and somehow let it lapse, but now I believe it’s time to make it into an eBook with videos, coming early next year.

I even have a cover and a title for the air-dry clay book (subject to change – like I said, this idea started a couple of years ago)!

What do you think? Would it make a good eBook with videos? It has unlimited possibilities for mixed media and fiber artists.The good thing about air-dry clay is that you don’t need a kiln, and many of the newer paper clays and polymer clays are very permanent and durable. And they even take beeswax!

So with all of this in mind, I’m going to give you a FREE SAMPLE of an easy air-dry clay process – a downloadable handout on how to transfer an image to a thin slab of air-dry clay. 

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2. But first, you have to promise to read the following commercial and not just skip to the end. Here goes:

I’m teaching a brand new online workshop about Origami Kimono construction with a group called Mystic Springs Studios in their year-long Artwalk Alchemy 2020. The kimono workshop is cool. You will love it. And when you buy the Artwalk Alchemy 2020 subscription, you get my workshop plus 23 others that look good too. I know some of the other artists, including Anne Marie Fowler who heads the program, and the projects look intriguing.

Anyway, for this weekend only, you can get a discount on the ArtWalk Alchemy 2020 classes.

You can click on the image above to go to the class description, or just click HERE.

I’ll be around when the Art Walk classes start to answer your questions and give feedback, as well as post photos of your work – so save $10 and sign up now!

And while I am in commercial mode, you can shop for my three existing eBooks (the first two with videos) just to see how they work. All have great reviews, if I do say so my own self 🙂  Here they are:

WAX & WORDS: An exploration of asemic writing, words, mark making and images enhanced with beeswax encaustic layers and gold foil – with nine videos

Beeswax, Clay, Paper and Fiber Talismans – with videos!

Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage

The upcoming air-dry clay eBook should be a good addition to this collection.

END OF COMMERCIALS – START OF FREEBIE!

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3.  Your free technique demo from the upcoming eBook – the photos below show an inkjet image printed on plain copier paper that has been transferred onto a thin slab of air-dry clay.

The second photo show the complete sample with more clay and mixed-media elements added.

Acrylic transfer on air-dry clay in progress

Completed sample – inkjet image transfer on air-dry clay with cold finishes

Here is all you need to do this image transfer technique – acrylic medium and air-dry clay (and an image, of course). I’ve given you two links to the products, but the materials are available at more than these two places. I have found that these two brands work best, but you can certainly experiment.

Delight Air Dry Clay

Golden Fluid Matte Medium

And here’s how:

4. BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE!

If you’re interested in air-dry clay, regular clay, photos of clay, collages about clay, etc., etc., don’t forget to enter the Texas Clay 20/20 Vision juried show at the San Antonio Art League!! It’s the best entry fee on the planet – only $10. Here are the details:

The deadline is December 12th, so shake a leg if you want to win that $500 first place award!!

 

 

 

Workshop report – painting is hard work!!

Imagine setting off on a path with lots of possible destinations and no map of where you were going – except for a possible clue at every intersection? That’s what happened to the participants in our Acrylic Abstract Painting Exploration workshop Wednesday. The phrase “trust the process” was the only compass on this journey toward a non-objective acrylic painting.

We did some warm-up paintings on 300# watercolor paper and practiced blending “no-colors” with a scumbling technique. Then we developed a compositional framework based on either a landscape or cruciform foundation.

When everybody seemed to be stalled, we laid out our work on a table and I prepared a big blog of Cadmium Red paint and told the hapless victims to add red paint to their work – anywhere they wanted, but it had to be red.

Wow! That was a jolt of energy. Everyone knew that they could paint over the red if they wanted to, but just that bright pop of color pointed at lots of new possibilities.

Some of the techniques we practiced going forward were:

  • Mark-making
  • Scraping
  • Lifting
  • Taping
  • Ombre stripes
  • Glazing
  • Stenciling
  • Texture
  • Object stamping
  • Veiled collage words

Each artist took a very different path, although when a technique worked particularly well, everyone gave it a try.

One thing that helped a lot was consistency – consistency of size (12 x 12″) and consistency of basic palette colors.

My friend Gwen Fox taught me that you could make a myriad of rich colors with just these three Golden acrylics:

These colors, plus white and Payne’s Gray (or black) create amazing and easy color harmonies.

Here are some details from the participants’ paintings that show these colors at work with a few added colors and some of the surface techniques:

Watch the Workshop Video (below) for further views of the paintings and the process. The participants were learners and risk-takers of the best kind!

VIDEO LINK

Thanks for reading – and watching!