The last Carousel ride . . .

What a beautiful, busy,  bittersweet weekend  it was at Lyn Belisle Studio in Carousel Court. While the Studio itself will be open until the end of October, we had our final workshops there this past Saturday and Sunday.

Rosemary Uchniat led us through her signature Small Space Dyeing class on Saturday. She and I tried to remember how many of these great workshops she’s conducted at the Studio – at least four or five. They are always a success because she teaches methods that are no-fail and brilliantly simple.

Look at the delighted smiles on the faces of her students as they discuss their gorgeous results.

On Sunday, I taught a Mixed Media Portfolio class. As usual, the students astounded themselves (and me) with their dazzling creations. Take a look.

Teaching that class brought me full circle, appropriately enough. Ten years ago, getting back into art pretty much saved my life and my sanity after I went through a particularly bad time.

Back then, as a kind of self-designed art therapy, I began making handmade book covers that told a story.  Some were designed to fit over ebook readers like Kindles.They were popular with friends, so I opened my first Etsy shop and made and sold over 200 of these covers. The process gave me hope and confidence. Here’s a link to some of those early covers.

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So, speaking of coming full circle, events at the Carousel Court Studio are not finished just yet – there will be a fantastic trunk show with Monika Astara on Saturday, October 15th, that you won’t want to miss. And there will be an October Show and Tell, details TBA. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’m headed to Santa Fe in two days with art pal Michelle Belto to teach at the Artisan Expo. My solo class, Engraven Images, is sold out! Woohoo!

The next SHARDS blog post will come to you live (sorta) from New Mexico.

Artisan Materials Expo 2016: Creative Ascension Welcome to the seventh biennial Artisan Materials Expo 2016: Creative Ascension, an event for every level of artist, featuring a fabulous selection of world-class art materials at discount prices, as well as opportunities to take classes. The Expo also welcomes the Encaustic Art Institute & International Encaustic Artists Retreat.

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Whiter Shades of Pale – playing in the no-color zone

Lesta Frank has a ray gun – she brought it to our all-day Whiter Shades of Pale workshop yesterday, and when anyone “called color” on another person (like, they were reaching for some red paint), they got blasted with flashing lights and wild beeps. It was pretty funny!

The whole day was a delight, as a matter of fact. In the morning, we made beautiful pale papers under Lesta’s expert tutelage – ecru, ivory, palest gold and silver – all breathtaking. A favorite was the string-embedded paper.

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In the afternoon, we used those papers to create stunning assemblage/collages with the hand-embellished paper and found objects tied into our canvases.

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Lesta’s collage

The video from the workshop is just pure eye-candy. It’s astonishing how much richness and variety can come from such a a limited color palette. Limiting the color choices allows you to concentrate on texture and composition.

Pale colors and textures are so wonderfully nostalgic that I thought I’d treat you to the original inspiration, the song called “A Whiter Shade of Pale” which won a Grammy for Procol Harum in (gulp) 1967. The video looks so sweet and goofy – very non-MTV. But boy, does it bring back memories!

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My Thursday Shareables – Billy Keen and other charming things

Billy Keen, “Becoming Human in the Morning”

Sometimes I get excited about a couple of artful things that are totally unrelated, but very shareable. Such is the case today.

The first item is artist Billy Keen’s comprehensive one-person show which opens at the San Antonio Art League and Museum this Sunday from 3-5.

In a word, it is stunning.

Billy’s work is best described in his own words:

“The works are about transcendence. They explore the tension between beauty and fragility, between our reptilian brain and our higher thinking, between fate, faith and free will. They combine the representational, the abstract and the sculptural. Objects are created, painted, or found. Combined, they become parts of a visual vocabulary exploring the life journey or spiritual pathway.”

I was at the Art League yesterday for a meeting and the show had just been installed. It was an overwhelming experience to walk the galleries alone surrounded by Billy’s work, much of it quite large and looming and magnificent.

Here are some photos that I took, none of which do justice to the work:

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Can you tell I’ve always been a huge fan of Billy Keen and his work? I’m lucky enough to call him a friend and a huge inspiration (and, yes, Billy, I do rip you off, every chance I get!)


The second shareable is little and all mine . . . Thai Buddha Talisman Charms.

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 I recently found a source for these little Thai Buddha prayer charms and decided to incorporate some into portable amulet “shrine charms” that can be clipped on a bag or worn on a scarf. (They have a small steel caribiner clip as well as a split ring on the top for attaching the amulet charms to whatever you choose.) Hmm. they’d even clip to your doggie’s collar to protect him.

Here are the first four prototypes – I’ll have more at the Earthworks show that Linda Rael and I are opening tomorrow at my Studio (see bottom of post for your invitation!)

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Hope your Thursday is great – hope to see you at the Studio tomorrow from 6-9, and I hope that you’ll share something nice with someone else today!

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September Spirit Dolls

Lyn's workshop demo spirit doll

Lyn’s workshop demo spirit doll, “Leafwing”

There’s something about a Spirit Doll workshop that gives me goosebumps. I think it’s because in just three hours, a group of willing people trust their creative instincts to combine some sticks and clay and cloth and build the most amazing mysterious little beings. It’s really magical!

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You’ve seen my Spirit Doll workshop videos before, and every group is special – this one was particularly memorable. It may have been because of the mix of people, several of whom had come from far away and had never been to the Studio before. There was a lot of welcoming and bonding before the three hours was over.

So this time, I have two videos to share with you. The first one shows the magic of the group pulling together their Spirit Dolls one by one.

And the second one is for YOU. It shows you step-by-step photos of how I made the prototype for yesterday’s workshop just in case you get inspired and want to try this for yourself. I hope you enjoy them both.

Ready to make your own? Here are the basics (especially if you’re a visual learner)!

Finally, if you want all of the Spirit Doll tips and techniques and variations that I have ever tried, I have a DVD called The Magic of Spirit Dolls from my two-hour Artful Gathering class. Just sayin’ – if you missed the workshop, you can capture the “spirit” of it on video! Just click on the image for the link. End of commercial break – have a happy Labor Day!

 

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Pale and painterly papers

A collection of pale papers by Lyn and Lesta

A collection of pale papers by Lyn and Lesta

Lesta Frank and I are teaching a workshop this month called Whiter Shades of Pale. Recently we got together at my studio to play with surface design of all kinds and create papers that have subtle painterly textures and intriguing variations of the palest tints.

The workshop has been sold out for a while, but I thought you might like to see some of the results from our pre-workshop experiments.

The first idea, below, is so simple – you just do a reverse stamp onto tan kraft paper (like a shopping bag) using a white stamp pad or white acrylic paint soaked into a damp piece of felt. Another variation we did was to roll white acrylic paint onto a textured placemat and print the design onto the tan paper.

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Below, tissue paper has been painted with clear acrylic matte medium, which causes the paper to wrinkle a bit, and then it was sprayed with walnut ink. It’s almost like tinted glass!

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This is one of my favorites. Lesta stenciled white acrylic paint onto deli paper using a small paint roller, and after it was dry, soaked it briefly in strong coffee to “age” it.

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This is an easy “cheater-ly” way (below) to make multiples of subtle designs for ready-made custom collage paper. We just lay various pale papers on a scanner, scanned them in to the computer, and then printed out 8.5″x11″ composite-designed papers. Lesta tinted the face on the example below with Portfolio oil pastels.

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Cheesecloth can be used in so many ways to add interest to collages with pale papers. You can Gesso it and let is dry, then cut it into fragments. You can use Gold Gesso as well. You can also add it as a layer over textures, then paint over it with light tints of acrylic paint.

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Finally, don’t forget that you can lighten images with your printer using MS Word – here’s a Renaissance face with its contrast decreased, printed on a plain piece of inkjet paper and mounted to matboard. I punched holes and will attach this to a collage as one of the final layers – hmm, and maybe cover it partially with tissue?

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If you want to play around with pale papers, here are some materials you might want to try.

I hope you have a chance to use some of these ideas – you can make just a few pale papers and collage little 3×5″ creations for cards. Or whatever – pale is pretty!

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