Kids, collage, and creativity

Several weeks ago, a dear friend asked if her grandchildren (seven of them, ranging in age from 18 months to 11) could come to the Studio to do an art project while they were in town for a visit. And yesterday, they came!kidscrop
I was curious to see whether their inexperienced little hands could possibly manage the collage project we’d been doing in my workshops during July, using altered papers created with Citra-solv to make landscape collages.

Holy cow! These kids took it to a new level. The four-year-old said, “If I put markers over this crazy paper, it turns it green.” Hey, YEAH – layering transparent marker over the altered paper gives spectacular results! Who would have thought?? Then there was the eight-year old who added a marbled sun with torn flames all around it. And the 11-year-old who layered her glue and gold leaf to make a dimensional metallic ridge. And on and on. These kids had no fear when it came to making art and jumping off the Directions Page. Not one of them asked “Is this right?? I wish I had thought to ask permission to show photos of their faces as they worked – total immersion and concentration. Guess who re-learned a big lesson? Me, and I will strive to make art like a kid, fearlessly and with great joy. Juice packs and graham crackers seem to help . . . .

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some of the wonderful collages that were created in this month’s workshops by the grownups (who obviously channeled their creative inner child!):



Cheesy video, great afternoon!

Darn it! If only I had remembered to take my video camera to yesterday’s Show and Tell at the Studio – it was the best ever. But I did make a little sampler of some of the presenters with my iPhone – unfortunately, you will have to put up with the “black bands” on the sides and the goofy volume. But it was a blast (see first segment). Thanks to everyone who came, and especially to the diversely talented show-and-tellers – we’ll do it again next month (probably Saturday, Aug. 23rd).

Simple altars and luminous objects

The completed piece

“The Guardian of the Golden Bough” – Altar Assemblage, Lyn Belisie, 2013

Celebration Circle’s “One People, Many Paths: Sacred Art of Altars” exhibit opens on September 1st, and I am ready! Last year, when I was invited to participate in this wonderful event, I struggled with several ideas, including putting a Spirit Doll inside the box, which, unfortunately, made it look like a coffin. Yikes. My (finally) finished altar from last year was called The Guardian of the Golden Bough (left). It was a good solution and popular with the silent auction bidders.

This year’s altar, “Luminosity,” came together almost all by itself – I found a small branch in the driveway as I was bringing in the bare altar box and propped it against the side. Perfect – and after that, everything just came together, including the quote mounted on plexiglass which says, “It is when the ordinary becomes luminous that we are transformed.” The altar is white, simple and luminous, made from ordinary objects.  Simple is good. I am happy!


“Luminosity” – Altar Assemblage, Lyn Belisle 2014

But I often wonder why some pieces, such as last year’s altar, are such a struggle to make, and others, like this year’s, seem to fly into your hands as if they knew they were supposed to be there. It’s a mystery. Let me know if you have the answer.

DSCN3240PS – No Friday Freebie this week, but if you are around, don’t miss tomorrow’s Show and Tell at the Studio from 2-4 – it’s definitely free, and you’ll get all kinds of free tips and techniques from the participating artists. The resident chef will be there, too, to show you a cool culinary trick. Hope to see you at Show and Tell!

Workshop wowsers with household cleaner

That Citra-Solv stuff just keeps on giving – it cleans up cat barf (personal experience), it’s organic and smells good, and it goofs up old magazine pages and turns them into art paper. I learned about it when artists Bonnie Davis and Rosemary Uchniat demo’d it at the first Studio Show and Tell (the next one is this Saturday, 2-4, so be there). Two workshops later, we’re having a great time combining Citra-solved paper with impeccable composition and inspired vision and turning it into lovely small artwork. Here’s a short video from yesterday’s collage workshop – look what these guys did!

If the altered paper process intrigues you, here’s a great tutorial from good old Cheap Joe featuring Cathy Taylor, who really specializes in collage with Citra-solv papers. It’s a lot of fun to play around with.

Franni and me and tea . . .

It would be nigh impossible to pry my hand from my Diet Dr. Pepper, but my artist friend Franni Farishon may be changing all that – she visited me at the Studio a couple of days ago, and boy, did I learn a lot about the Joys of Tea. The Good Kind. Franni brought some mind-blowing loose tea samples from Discover Teas in Virginia (which is owned by her daughter Chris) to share. Here’s a delightful picture that Franni drew of our tea-for-two party.


Drawing by Frances Farishon

Some things that surprised me – first, you can brew a fabulous cup of tea in just three to five minutes – and you don’t have to use boiling water. We had a delicate Cream Earl Grey that tasted like vanilla bergamot blossoms and brewed in practically no time – it was fun to watch it steep, and it really did taste creamy and silky without anything added. I also learned about Puerh. It’s a fermented tea that can be steeped over and over again all day long, and will yield new and different flavor notes with each steep. Wow. Finally, the aromas of the different teas are practically hypnotic.

So I ordered some teas from Discover Teas along with a Tea Press (who knew?) and when they arrived, quick as lightning, I brewed up a cup of Tropic of Jasmine – swoon. The cup came from Franni, who asked her daughter to include in the package it as a gift for me. Tea drinkers are so nice! So, OK, all you tea drinkers out there in SHARDS Land – why didn’t you tell me what I’d been missing?? This stuff is amazing! Thanks, Franni and Chris!

Here are some more photos of Franni’s Tea Tutorial (she brought cookies, too- yay!):

PS – speaking of SHARDS Land, the winner of the Friday Freebie gift certificate to Mulberry Paper and More and a Lotus Book kit goes by the email of  “” – congratulations! I don’t recognize your name by your email, but thanks for subscribing and I’ll send along your prize as soon as you are kind enough to send me your name and address. Thanks, and happy Monday to all!



Friday Freebie – pretty paper prizes

You know how sometimes you recommend sources just because you like their stuff? That’s the way I feel about Mulberry Papers and More – I’ve been ordering from them for a long time and have their link on my sidebar. Here’s an example of the kinds of papers you can order from them for about $5 – a giant (2’x3′) sheet of Marbled Momi Paper.


Anyway, I got a nice email from the president of the company saying they’d gotten some traffic from SHARDS and were sending a $5 gift card that I could use as a Friday Freebie. Pretty cool!

That’s half of this week’s Freebie, and the other half is from me – a kit to make your own Lotus Book (with directions, of course). So one lucky SHARDS subscriber, new or old, good or bad, will be in a drawing for a $5 gift card to Mulberry Papers and More plus a Lotus Book Kit from yours truly. Thanks, as always, for subscribing to SHARDS and supporting what goes on at the Studio. Good luck, and happy weekend!

Lotus Book with pop-out pages

Lotus Book with pop-out pages

Birthday fun

It’s Lesta Frank’s birthday – she’s a wonderful artist and long-time pal. We went to high school together so we always know how ancient we’re getting – yikes!

Lately, Lesta has been painting the most enchanting pet portraits – check out her website, and then wish her a happy birthday. Here’s the card I made for her. Leonardo said she was one of his best models (now that’s OLD) – heh heh.



A wordle-y diversion

You’ve all probably seen word clouds, those designs that are made from a selection of words in a paragraph. There’s a free online program called Wordle that I use with my students on the first day of classes at Trinity as an introduction. I have them write a little bit about themselves, then transform it into a design. You just paste the words into the Wordle window, choose your colors and layout, click Create –  and voila! Here’s one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems, Wild Geese, as a Wordle word cloud (the poem itself is underneath the design).  Give it a try, and have fun Wordle-ing!


Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver