Altered paper, enduring magic

Ahhh – the smell of Citrasolv was in the air yesterday afternoon. Brushed onto the pages of National Geographic magazine, it never fails to turn photographs into otherworldly abstract patterns. When strips and scraps of this paper are combined, magic happens!

No matter how many times I teach this workshop, the results are fabulous – fresh, original and intriguing. Here’s a short video of the workshop participants creating their outstanding work in yesterday’s Small Worlds: Abstract Landscapes and Altered Paper gathering (If you can’t see the video, click here):

Lyn Belisle Workshop: Altered Paper Collage from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

Each person chose one of his or her works to mat, and here are their favorites:

Wally

Wally

Mackenzie

Mackenzie

Claire

Claire

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Jan

Pamela

Pamela

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Linda

I taught a comprehensive version of this class at Artful Gathering several summers ago, and the DVD is available here.

There are also a number of free, online resources on this technique, including this really good one from Cathy Taylor.

This is one of those simple processes that rarely fails and is a lot of fun to put together! Happy Citrasolv sniffing!

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Back from a week in the wilds of Washington

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I woke up Sunday morning to a temperature of 38F and a herd of elk lurking around the cluster of farm building where I was staying. It was the last day of the Spring 2017 Gaian Soul retreat, held this time at Cedar Springs Lodge and Farm, Skagit County, Washington, just south of the Canadian border.

The theme of the retreat was Tarot and Talismans. I taught talisman-making techniques, including beeswax applications on clay and fiber, and rolled paper/fiber/wax bead techniques. My dear friend, Joanna Powell Colbert, infused these techniques with mystery, magic and spiritual intent through her teaching of the Tarot. It was a perfect fit. We were all thrilled with the results.

I kept wanting to post pictures to SHARDS all of last week, but the internet connection was slow out there, so I just put a bunch of them into this video to share with you:

Tarot and Talismans from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

I also put up a page on my website for the retreat participants with links to the supplies that we used in the workshop, and you are welcome to take a look, too!

Click this Tarot and Talisman link.

Making the beads was such a success that I want to offer it as a separate workshop at my studio later this summer. The talismans took quite a while to complete – three days of fairly steady work, but you can make several dozen spectacular beeswax, fiber and paper beads in an afternoon. Stay tuned.

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I hitched a ride with my friend Lisa Sanger Blinn from SeaTac airport to the Cedar Springs Farm, which is about a two hour drive. We visited the town of LaConner both coming and going. It has great galleries, restaurants and shops. The Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery is fantastic. And all around La Conner, we saw acres of daffodils that are being harvested for commercial florists. Most were not in bloom yet, but some were – spectacular!

And, yes, they grow in boggy soil. There were also fields of swans and snow geese.

Thanks to Lisa for showing me the sights – for a Houston girl who works at Rice University, she sure knows her way around the Pacific Northwest!

And more special thanks to Joanna Colbert Powell and the Gaian Soul circle of women for inviting me back to teach the talisman workshop – it was a wonderful week!

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In praise of nature

I’m lucky enough to live across the street from a woodland area, and when I go walking in the morning, my pockets are often filled with rocks or sticks or even little critter bones that I’ve picked up along the way.

These natural objects are like mysterious sentences in a story or lines in a poem without words. You do that, too – right?

Sometimes, these things end up in a big jar on my bookshelf, looking kinda creepy cool:

Jars of found nature objects on my bookshelves

Jars of found nature objects on my bookshelves – ok, so the face didn’t actually appear like that in nature :)

And sometimes, they end up in assemblages and little shrines.

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

So when Zinnia at Artful Gathering told our faculty that we would be teaching nature-themed classes this summer, I was ecstatic!! Artful Gathering is my favorite “summer camp” and online creative community. Here’s the description of my Nature Shrine class:

Session Two: July 16 – August 26

Lyn Belisle will show you how to make small shrine-like assemblages created from serendipitous finds in natural settings. Through the power of storytelling with symbols, Lyn will show you how to construct natural elements enhanced with her iconic air-dry faces. You’ll combine rocks and shards, twigs, leaves to create a meaningful non-verbal story.Then, using unconventional construction methods such as knotting, wiring and wrapping, you will create diverse surfaces on little 6 x 6 canvases that can be displayed in a variety of ways.

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As part of the Artful Gathering fun, we’re having a Blog Hop. That means that somewhere on my blog page, there’s a secret word for you to collect. It’s not too far, and when you collect all of the words, you can win truly nifty prizes. The secret word is right around here, AND it’s easy ( wink). Click here for more about the Blog Hop.

But wait, there’s more! In the first AG session, I’m teaching an encaustic portrait class called Natural Expressions – here’s the info:

LYN BELISLE_edited-1

Session One: June 6 – July 17
Lyn Belisle guides you through the steps for creating mixed media portraits with natural materials, including layered beeswax. You’ll learn how to enhance digital images, tinting, preparing small stretched canvas substrates for layered collage, assembling a wrapped mat around a canvas substrate as well as attaching natural objects to a mat and integrating them into the mixed media composition.

Obviously, I’d love to work with you in one or the other of these classes. We have an online classroom for questions and critiques and extra resources.

So here’s your homework:

1. See if you can find the “cleverly hidden” secret word to collect for the Blog Hop

2. Check out the Artful Gathering catalog to see the class offerings. Besides mine, there are some great classes by pals Debby Anderson, Michelle Belto, Monika Astara and Luthien Tye, among others.

3. Get out there in nature and collect a little object that calls to you and write a one-line poem about it!


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The pleasures and possibilities of paper

My artist friend Mary Ann Johnson came by yesterday and, among other things, we talked about our mutual love for beautiful paper. Mary Ann has been making books for a long time and has a fabulous collection of artisan papers which she shared with us at the Lotus Book workshop. Here are some of the books she’s made.

Handpainted accordion book by Mary Ann Johnson

Handpainted accordion book by Mary Ann Johnson

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Coptic bound book by Mary Ann Johnson

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Handpainted accordion book by Mary Ann Johnson

We both agreed that one of the best online shops to find great paper is Hollanders. It’s a bookbinding store that offers over 2000 kinds of decorative paper – check out these beauties:

papers

I showed Mary Ann an experiment I’ve been doing with paper beads as part of my planning for an upcoming Wax and Fiber Talisman workshop at the Gaian Soul retreat. After I’ve rolled the beads, I coat them with beeswax. It gives a wonderful luster and smoothness and makes them look almost like ancient cocoons.

Rolled paper bead

Rolled paper bead

Coating with beeswax

Coating with beeswax

Waxed and unwaxed paper beads

Waxed and unwaxed paper beads

Playing with paper has infinite possibilities – go to Hollanders website and get inspired. Another great site is Mulberry Papers and More. And if you’re in San Antonio, Herweck’s has a good selection, as well.

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Little collages, lots of possibilities

I’m so excited! Studio C Gallery at the Art Center of Corpus Christi invited me to show my work there. They requested some of my journals, which makes me happy because those are truly mixed-media work, plus I love hand-made books. It occurred to me that a 5×7′ journal is the perfect size for the 5×7″ collages that I routinely demonstrate in my workshops. So it was natural to create small collages for the journal covers.

I used a combination of tissue, wax, ribbon, beads, wombats (actually no wombats) and I was pleased with the results. Here are some photos of six of these. I am creating the journals in a numbered series of ten, each with a title.

Journal inside front cover with title and number

Journal inside front cover with title and number

"Elizabeth"

“Elizabeth”

"Pearl Reflection"

“Pearl Reflection”

"Pensive Mercy"

“Pensive Mercy”

"Renaissance Dreams"

“Renaissance Dreams”

"Shell Spinner"

“Shell Spinner”

"Winter Bay"

“Winter Bay”

It’s kinda cool that you get an original collage and a journal in the same little package! Functional art, for sure.

This past Sunday, I had a Wax and Tissue workshop at the little studio, and we created more of these 5×7″ mixed media/beeswax collages.

As always, the work was fantastic. Jo Etta Jupe, who teaches papermaking at the Southwest School of Art,  commented that everyone’s pieces were authentic reflections of their personal style and vision. How true – take a look!

If you find yourself in need of an enjoyable small project, try some of these 5×7″ mixed-media collages. They lend themselves to all kinds of possibilities, including journal covers!

The weekend approaches – get out there and enjoy it. Oh, and if you’re in San Antonio, drop by the San Antonio Art League & Museum on Sunday afternoon for the opening of the Collegiate student exhibit. I got a sneak preview yesterday, and it is a strong show that will generate a lot of lively conversation!!

collegiate copy

 

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Trusting the process is HARD

My last post was about William Eiland, the juror for the upcoming exhibit at the San Antonio Art League. When I wrote it, I had no idea whether any of my three submitted pieces would be selected, but was delighted when I just learned by postcard that one, “Homage to Ellen,” was chosen.

card

So here’s the story on the piece that was selected. It started out as a semi-figurative piece on a very dark background – I posted it on Facebook because I liked the way it was going.

Off to a pretty good start — but wait . . .

Then I started to fuss with it, playing with the faces, drawing little hands, and generally getting “precious” and looking at details and not the whole painting. I started getting frustrated and fiddley. Ever been there? The whole thing started collapsing. HELP!

So in desperation, I remembered what my friend Ellen Rolli, the Boston abstract expressionist, told me when we painted together at her studio – if you get too attached to it, paint it out. Trust the process. Argh!!

It was scary, but I started paining over parts of it. Then more, then more – it took on a new life, but with the black figures still underneath as part of the history.

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“Homage to Ellen,” almost completed

Can you believe it? It wanted to be an entirely different painting, and I can always go back to painting figures if I want to. But this was the one the juror chose. He saw something in it that he liked.

It’s titled “Homage to Ellen” because I listened to Ellen Rolli‘s advice and painted over a preliminary work I sorta loved for one that was more authentic and energetic, one that wanted to be selected. And you and I know what’s underneath those layers!

 Trust the process . . .Ain’t art fun??

PS Congrats to my other friends whose work was also chosen for the show which will open on April 9th, and if yours wasn’t, neither were two of mine!

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Thoughts from SAAL&M Juror Bill Eiland

Did you enter the 87th San Antonio Art League Exhibition?  I did, and my fingers are crossed that I got in! We will know in a couple of days – however, I did get to meet the juror, William Eiland, at a dinner at our house last night.

Sorry, I have no inside track about who was accepted, but I did learn that the juror is absolutely delightful. I think you’ll agree when you see the video, below, in which the charming museum director from Georgia discusses everything from fried chicken to what makes a good submission to a juried art show.

 

Here are some photos from last night’s very informal, very enjoyable dinner.

Cappy and Suzy L:awton, SAAL&M's 2017 Art Patrons

Cappy and Suzy L:awton, SAAL&M’s 2017 Art Patrons

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Doris Walsh, Vikki Fields, Bill Eiland, and Richard Tietz

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SAAL&M President Helen Fey with Clarence Fey and David Johle

  I loved Bill Eiland’s advice to artists who enter juried shows:

  • Avoid sentimentality
  • Avoid cliches
  • Be true to your personal vision

Now, back to crossing my fingers that we all were accepted!!

On and off Fred

Dale Jenssen

Heads up! One of the best studio tours of the year is coming up this weekend, and six of the best artists I know will be at Dale Jenssen’s studio showing and selling their work. The tour is called On and Off Fredricksburg Road here’s the info.

Dale’s work is gorgeously edgy (you may remember her workshop at my studio), and her 5 guest artists –  Michelle Belto, Lesta Frank, Thelma Muriada, Linda Rael, and Alison Schockner –  represent the best in diverse mixed media.

Alison Schockner

Linda Rael

Dale’s studio at 1651 W. Woodlawn will be open Saturday the 18th, from 11-6, and Sunday from 12-5. Catalogs with directions to all of the studios will be available at the tour.

And be sure to take in the opening Autograph Party at Bihl Haus Arts on Friday night. 6-9 pm, 2803 Fredericksburg Road, across from Tip top Cafe. Music by Los Nahuatlatos, hors d’oeuvres & libations.

Hope to see you on and off Fred! Meanwhile, I’m headed back to the studio to finish a painting in time (hopefully) for the San Antonio Art League’s 87th Annual Artists’ Exhibition.

y painting in progress - 30x40" - who knows what this one will look like when it's finished!

My current painting in progress – 30×40″ acrylic on canvas – who knows what this one will look like when it’s finished!

Hey, and check out the San Antonio Art League’s new website if you have a chance – I designed it – and it’s another work in progress!

 


 

Lotus and clay

First, the Lotus – as in yesterday’s Lotus Book workshop at my “Studio Cinco(one of the participants told me that the address, #515, was very auspicious). Must be true, ’cause the workshop was really fun!

This is such a simple project, but it’s deceptive. Working with a small scale sometimes makes it  difficult to pull off a striking composition. However, fiber artist Mary Ann Johnson shared some absolutely gorgeous Asian papers that made us all look good! Take a look.

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One of the great things about these workshops is the sharing of information and sources. Yesterday while we were working on our Lotus Books, Leslie Newton from the San Antonio Potters Guild and I discussed our favorite new source for clay and tools, Roadrunner Ceramics.

It’s not just a store for potters – mixed media artists can find all kinds of stuff there. I was there last week and got some great stencils ($4 each) as well as some needle tools for incising wax.

stencils

Roadrunner also has these rolling pattern stamps that would be good for inking paper and texturing paper clay.

I found a teeny tiny stamp for my shard faces – they have all kinds of these little guys.

stamp

So add Roadrunner Ceramics to you list of cool art stores in San Antonio. They are located near DeZavala and 1H10 and they are super friendly and helpful.

Have a great week! Is winter over for good??

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Two spaces in Sunday’s workshop

Just a quick heads up, SHARDS readers – there are two spaces open in Sunday’s Lotus Book workshop if you’d like to join us. We’ll be working with collaged covers, including beeswax layers, and will complete at least two books each – 2-5 pm at my Olmos Drive studio.

Click on the image below for more info – bye for now!

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