About lynbelisle

Lyn Belisle Artist’s Statement: Shards and Veils As an artist, my personal obligations and passions are pulling individual connections from the circular nature of time, fashioning shards of recognition from the well of collective unconscious, exploring the idea of the “secret handshake” in symbol and archetype, celebrating the frozen moment between what was and what is to come. I work in four main media to explore these ideas: • In collage, often using beeswax and altered papers to celebrate anonymous faces and otherworldly places • In unglazed earthenware clay and found objects, often to create spiritual and symbolic “neo-santo” assemblage • In fiber and paper, often to create wall pieces with natural colors, wax, felt, cheesecloth and digital photo images • In acrylic paint, often as pure, non-referenced exploration of form and veiling I take inspiration and comfort from the knowledge that we are all connected on a deep cross-cultural level with shared collective memories that each of us can glimpse through art without the need for words.

Thanks, Jude Hill

With so many artists teaching online these days (including me) and so many techniques to learn, it’s inevitable that a student’s work is influenced by an instructor’s.

That’s kinds of the point – if you admire someone’s work, you want to know how it’s done. But the rest of the story is about what happens when you know how it’s done and what you do with the information.

In the last newsletter from the GAGA group of women artists, this question was posed:

I have spent the last two years working hard on my painting style so that I can become as recognized as other artist of note in this community. I have paid a lot of money to teachers for classes and workshops, incorporating their techniques to help me improve and sell my art. Now that I am getting ready to enter a national juried exhibition (with substantial prize money), this pops up in the Prospectus: “Works that have been completed under instruction or in direct association with a class or workshop are not eligible.”  So why have I spent so much of my money on these classes and workshops if I can’t use the art techniques from my teachers? 

See what you think about the answer:

Most worthwhile juried shows include this phrase to protect both professional artists who teach and students who so admire the work of the instructor that they do their best to copy an instructor’s style and end up looking rather foolish and unoriginal. Good exhibition guidelines discourage direct copying of another artist’s style, which can be like trying to find a lazy shortcut to success without all the work it took the original artist to get organically to that point. It can also be illegal – an artist has the right to prohibit others from making truly derivative works.

Technique is only one part of the equation of being an artist. And a lot of work done under instruction has both the professor’s hand as well as intellectual creative “solve” in it! So, student work is not artist work. It’s a stepping-stone to one’s finally developed voice!! You can and should learn technique, but after that it is your creative vision, internal dialogue, life experience and expression that cannot be duplicated. It is up to everyone to find this for themselves. Technique is not art, lessons are training wheels, copying is not creating, paintings are not recipes and sales are not always the goal.

If you do not yet recognize this and are upset by this very common phrase in a Call for Entries, perhaps you should spend a bit more time on your journey of development. When you learn how to experiment and play in your own way with what you learn, you will develop your own voice. Quit imitating and honor the techniques you learn from your teachers by translating them into your own language. Being slavishly derivative does not become any of us and does not earn us recognition in exhibitions.

“Influence” and “emulation” and “incorporation” are all words we use that describe our use of the signature techniques that other artists share with us. “Copying” has a different connotation altogether.

And you certainly don’t have to be a teacher to experience the realization that another artist is “heavily influenced” by your work. It’s a complicated subject.

Jude Hill is a beloved fiber artist whose blog and practice are followed by thousands of people. She is sensitive, low-key, and very authentic. She addresses this complicated issue in a video – it’s really brilliant. It’s so relaxing to watch her stitch and listen to her soothing voice.

Video Link

So what do you think? It’s certainly not a black-and-white situation, and there is, as I always say, “more than one right answer.”

To help give you some perspective, read Inspiration vs. Imitation by Christine Nishiyama, illustrator, author, and artist. You’ll enjoy it.

Lyn

Creative Circle Power – want to join?

I’ve just returned from Taos, New Mexico and a wonderful teaching experience at the Taos Ceramics Center. For two Saturdays, I worked with eight students who inspired each other with their generosity, support, and insights. It reminded me strongly that the power of a group of artists is almost infinite.

Sharing and discussing one’s art is a slippery subject, kind of like trying to nail Jello to a wall. But we know what we love when we see it, even if we can’t describe in words our instant connection to a painting, a sculpture, or, in the case of our workshop, an earthenware Santo.

But when an artist creates within in a group environment, a certain magic happens – conversation flows, ideas emerge, support abounds. This is what Michelle Belto and I have experienced during the first two twelve-week terms of our virtual artist’s residency program called The Enso Circle. 

If you apply to The Enso Circle and are accepted, you will have access to workshop sessions, a private online library of resources, regular Zoom critiques and group discussions, and presentations with guest artists. During the three months there will be opportunities to share your work in process, troubleshoot stuck points, get positive and supportive feedback, and meet one on one with Lyn and/or Michelle. The residency will culminate in a shared online exhibition and catalogue.

Here is a link to the exhibition catalog from the Spring Residency. You can see the amazing variety of media and creative levels. One thing these residents had in common was a commitment to twelve weeks of guided support  toward a self-described goal.

We are now in the tenth week of the second residency with twelve new artists, all of whom are successfully completing their goals and ready to show their work in a new Summer Exhibition Catalog.

Michelle and I would like you to consider joining us in The Enso Circle for the fall term. There is a limit of twelve residents and each person must apply for admission. If you think this might be right for you, please go to our Enso Circle Website and read more about it. You can apply right from our webpage.

And if you’re not sure, we will happily put you in touch with a current or past Enso Circle Resident Artist who can tell you more about it from their standpoint. Remember, applications are coming in and we are closing that window on October 8th. You are invited to join us.

Now, I can’t wait to tell you more about my great experience in Taos, and a follow-up workshop I’m planning called Shards and Santos — with Paper Clay.

Thanks for being in MY creative circle. When creative people support each other, magic happens. Here’s a photo of my friend, artist Linda Rael, and me after productive a day in the Taos workshop. See those smiles? Happiness is the power of the circle!

♥Lyn, glad to be back home

 

 

 

 

Shards and Santos, Clay and Collage

Happiness is teaching in Taos!

A week from tomorrow, I’ll be at the Taos Ceramics Center working with students in my Shards and Santos Workshop. The class takes place on two consecutive Saturdays – here’s a description.

In this workshop, we will create personal assemblages inspired by these iconic figures of Santos. In the first class, we will construct handmade textured slab-based clay components such as heads, bodies, and enhancements. We will also learn to make hand-crafted clay press molds. These components will be fired once.

Here are some examples of assorted assemblage components that I’m taking with me – honestly, working in assemblage is just like working in collage, only a bit more dimensional:

Continuing the workshop description —

The next week, we will build our figure, incorporating found objects such as bones and shells and bleached twigs into the final assemblage and perhaps include cherished objects and hidden words. We will explore the limitless possibilities of cold finishes, such as metallics and beeswax, to enhance the surfaces of the unglazed earthenware.

These santos, below, are in progress, and I’ll use them to show how the components are put together.

Since we will not be glazing and re-firing the shard components, I’ve been experimenting with cold finishes for fired clay for the last couple of weeks.

One of the most successful combinations I’ve discovered is Pearl Ex powder by Jacquard mixed with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium.  You can control the translucency and the color saturation, then buff the wax finish. It’s exciting to see how well it works on bisqueware.

 

Another technique I’m playing with is tube acrylic paint mixed with a bit of cornstarch to dull the finish.

In the sample below, the acrylic mixture mimics the look of Gilder’s Paste at about half the cost and with less potential toxicity.

This kind of experimentation is part of the fun of planning a workshop. And then I get to share with new people!

I’m grateful to the Taos Ceramics Center for inviting me – and at this writing, there’s just one spot left, so if you need a quick get-away, come on up to the mountains of New Mexico!

 

Going back to school — in a box

Today at noon I’m meeting my classmates (virtually) for a workshop called Hand Coloring on Encaustic Images | Workshop in a Box taught by Kevin Tully and Amanda Smith. Amanda owns the ASmith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, and she specializes in photography and also teaches and works in encaustic. She’s a wonderful curator and artist.

Why “workshop in a box”? Amanda and Kevin ship you a box full of all the equipment, supplies and tools you will need to participate which will be returned at the end of the workshop.

This includes a griddle, the wax, egg tempera paint, your own photos on panels plus a demo work, and an amazing assortment of extras. I received mine two days ago. It is packed with goodies, including a postage-paid label to return the equipment when the workshop is over. You meet the other participants for a mega-Zoom session.

This is a five-hour workshop with three sections – here’s a brief description of the first section:

Starting with a desaturated image we will begin coloring on the print with colored pencil, pastel and water color. Then apply wax to the image. Followed by a demonstration of the application of water soluble wax crayon, egg tempera, pastel and cold wax.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I hardly ever get to take workshops these days, and this one, via Zoom with four other people from around the country, feels like a challenge.

Here are the two photos that I will be working with. I took the first one in Cuba, and the second one in my back garden:

I’ll report back on how the day goes! Off the the workshop 🙂

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Work, Old Concept

Old retablo frame, late 1800’s

THE ENCANTO SERIES

Lyn Belisle, Crow’s Companion, 2021

My work has always been strongly influenced by the idea of “shards” as a metaphor for human communication across time. A shard can be a found fragment of clay, a rusty nail, a scrap of handwriting – any little clue that becomes a “secret handshake” between the maker and the discoverer.

Shards, clues, and other stuff

As an assemblage artist, I collect bits of meaning from various cultures and times. This series, called Encantos (charms), respectfully combine contemporary historic images, then veil them with beeswax, a material which has been used in art-making for over 2000 years. This encaustic process seals and enhances the images. The metal adornments on these pieces honor the traditional centuries-old Retablos, painted tin icons that show the significant rust and fading consistent with their age.

Lyn Belisle, Spiral Crows, 2021

For decades I’ve worked with clay, fiber, and paper in assemblage and collage to express this non-verbal time-circle connection. When my friend Michelle Belto introduced me to the encaustic process in 2009, This new-to-me medium seemed a perfect companion for my most-loved materials.

Lyn Belisle, Crow’s Talisman, 2021

I’d briefly tried encaustic medium on collage, but I began to understand that beeswax is a metaphoric material in itself, ancient as clay, versatile as paper, compelling as ivory and bone. Now beeswax and encaustic are integral parts of my process.

Lyn Belisle, Nest, 2021

This series feels just right, a synthesis of digital, ancient, and contemporary process and content. Work for this series is available at the Members Gallery (San Antonio Art League) and soon at Marta Stafford Fine Art in Marble Falls, Texas.

Take good care, hope to see you soon – Lyn

Art and Climate

For the last five years, The Encaustic Art Institute, based in Santa Fe, has been hosting a juried national exhibition called Global Warming is Real.

Here is this year’s overview. Artists were invited to interpret the theme in their encaustic work.:

THEME: Global Warming is REAL. As nations and economies shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pollution levels and human patterns change in ways that were detectable by satellites. As all types of social, economic, industrial and urban activity suddenly shut off, nature took advantage and showed improvement in the quality of air, rivers, less noise pollution, and undisturbed and calm wildlife. COVID-19 may have temporarily lessened our carbon footprint, giving us a view in to what our individual affect on Global Warming constitutes. At the same time, Climate Change is becoming more visible and tangible through increased fires, glacier melting, and warming oceans.

I found out this morning that my entry, below, was accepted. Yay! This encaustic/mixed media work called River of No Return.

Lyn Belisle, River of No Return 2021

This was my accompanying statement:

This work, called River of No Return, suggests extreme negative impacts – droughts, floods,  famine – on populations whose vulnerability to Global Warming put them at extreme risk. The looming climate change is catastrophic for third-world countries that rely more directly on rivers, rain, and oceans for their agriculture and survival. The colors of ash, bone and rust in the work serve as metaphors for the decline and corrosion that will affect every lifeform on our planet,not just people in industrialized countries.

I am really curious to see how the theme will be interpreted by the others in the exhibition, which opens virtually on July 10.

In the meantime, here’s a link to a thoughtful, sometimes disturbing, online exhibition called Resilience in the Age of Climate Change.

https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/resilience-in-the-age-of-climate-change

In this exhibit by Art Works for Change, thirteen visionary artists and architects consider the consequences of climate change, including excess heat, drought, flooding, extreme weather events, food insecurity, displacement, and the loss of biodiversity. Through their work, we can visualize the challenges of a warming planet, and discover opportunities to overcome them through innovation and resilience.

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We’ll have plenty of time to ponder resilience during the days of heat and drought – hope all of you are well and finding time to create safe space for yourselves.

Celebrating the Circle

It seems like just yesterday that Michelle Belto and I welcomed our first Artists in Residence to our online community called The Enso Circle. And today, twelve weeks later, we are celebrating the publication of our first Enso Circle Exhibition Catalog.

This catalog is tangible proof that a “what if” can become a reality. Each of the Resident artists whose authentic, eclectic work graces these pages answered a call for concept that had not been tried before – a virtual Art Residency based on a written application and specific goals.

The Enso Circle is not an art workshop or social media group, although it has components of each of those. It is an invitational art residency, a dedicated three-month time period in which artists join a community of creators for a specific self-chosen goal that is unique to them. The online residency provides the comprehensive artistic support that they need to focus and strengthen their work. Artists who apply are ready to focus on a conceptual goal in their studio practice. It could be a social theme, an exploration of media, a series of work that analyzes personal struggles or celebrates overcoming difficulty.

Linda Rael, Texas, Enso Circle Resident Artist

When Michelle and I opened up this idea online to the arts community in February of 2021, we had no idea how that community would respond. We just knew that The Enso Circle was something we would want at this stage in our creative careers. Much to our delight, we had over twice as many applicants as we cold accommodate. We chose the twelve you see here based on a combination of factors, but any one of the applicants would have been a great choice.

Joanne Desmond, Maine, Enso Circle Resident Artist

Since the first day, the Residents have shown respect, support, humor, and encouragement to others in the Circle. We’ve borrowed ideas from each other and made virtual visits to each other’s studios. I am incredibly grateful to these twelve First Residents who made The Enso Circle a reality.

The catalog contains much more that wonderful photos of artwork. Each Resident Artist has shared personal thoughts about art practice, doubts and triumphs, personal and professional goals, and the how and why of their studio work. Please read about them, enjoy their work, and share it with friends – and to know more about the Enso Circle, visit our website.

Click on the image below to access the complete Exhibition Catalog.

 

 

Busted.

Busted. I got caught doing the very thing I warn everyone not to do. Copyright violation.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

THE STORY

Last month I received and completely unexpected email regarding an image that I used on this very blog in 2017:

Unauthorized Use of Boxist.com’ Images Cease and Desist / Settlement Agreement – Case #150421B

It has come to our attention that you are using an image (or images) owned by Boxist.com (Stock Photography) for online promotional purposes without our authorization or a valid license which is copyrighted work in accordance with the copyright law, We own the image(s) exclusively and have filings with the U.S. Copyright Office for said image(s) under: Registration Number: VA0002000962.

We have searched our records and have not been able to locate a valid license for the use of the image(s) under your name, Attached for your reference is a copy of the image(s) in question and the usage found on your website, Also attached is a payment demand representing a settlement that Boxist.com would expect to receive for the unauthorized use of the image(s) should no license exist.

Although this use might have been unintentional, the use of our imagery without proper licensing is considered “copyright infringement” and entitles Boxist Stock Photography to pursue compensation for infringing uses, the consequences of copyright infringement can lead to substantial penalties, and If you continue to engage in copyright infringement after receiving this letter, your actions will be evidence of “willful infringement”.

List of the infringement materials on your website:

(Digital cached data and printed proofs of this infringement have been preserved for our use as evidence in any lawsuit or litigation proceedings).

________________________________________________________________________

YIKES!! At first, I did what any computer-savvy person would do – I googled the sender, hoping it was a scam. Long story short, it turns out that they were right. This company does provide images but they require a license. They also do a thriving business in searching for people who are using these images without a license, and they found me, four years later.

The image was something I had found through a Google search. Here’s what it looked like in the 2017 blog post:

In my own defense, when I choose something from Google images, I do a cursory search for copyright, but in this case (and in every case) you need to look more thoroughly.

Boxist.com asked for $150 to use their photo – it didn’t matter that I had already taken it down. I had used it without permission. I also found through searches that this company catches a lot of people this way – but they are absolutely within their rights.

In the end, I went to their site and paid $50 for a license to use the small version of the photo which I wasn’t even using any more on a four-year-old blog post. But the law is the law.

I quickly heard back from Boxist.com – here’s the email:

Dear Lyn,

I appreciate your attempt in resolving this matter, the purchase of a new license subsequent to notification of the unauthorized use does not address the copyright violation, but since you have already purchased the image from us, and such action make me believe that you had no intention to harm our business and this is all just an innocent mistake, so in good faith I will consider this issue resolved and the case is closed, also you have been granted a perpetual, non- exclusive, non-transferable license “meaning the rights are non-sublicensable, meaning that you cannot transfer or sublicense the image to anyone else” to use the Photograph for your online and social media uses under our standard license.
This is to confirm: Boxist.com (Stock Photography) is ending all legal claims and does hereby release and discharge you from any and all claims for copyright infringement regarding this case, this settlement is effective and the payment for the copyrighted image(s) is completed, our invoice and confirmation for the payment has been sent with the order email.
____________________________________________________________
Apparently, I escaped by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin! Or at least with only a small financial penalty — and a big fat lesson! If you want to read more about this, check out this link (and be sure to read the responses).
Your Friend,
The Reformed Copyright Violator

 

 

 

 

 

The early bird trickles like sand through the hourglass —

I just finished filming my first lesson for the extraordinary “everything you never knew you wanted to learn about encaustic” course called Painting With Fire:Essence of Mulranny. I am one of 26 international teachers invited to teach at Painting With Fire. The scope and content of the lessons is amazing – yes, even if you are a beginner.

Conceived by Ireland-based artist Lora Murphy, the year-long program’s early bird cost of $199 is the bargain of the century for anyone who wants to learn more about painting with wax or using it as a stellar component in mixed media work. Seriously. The sands are trickling through the hourglass, though – early bird tuition ends on Thursday. After that, the price goes to $249 (which is still a bargain, but $50 can buy a lot of encaustic supplies).

So this is a preview of what I am doing for my first Painting With Fire lesson – it will be released really soon, on Wednesday, May 26th. It’s called Surface Sampler, and it’s super-fun, if I do say so myself. Just click on the image or the link below:

Link to Preview

Here are some FAQs about Painting With Fire

  • Class starts on Friday, April 30th
  • Every class after this is on Wednesday (from May 5th onwards).
  • There are 52 weeks of lessons, often several in one week. All you need is an internet connection to view them. You can go back to previous lessons during the year.
  • All classes are prerecorded (with one exception) and will be available from approximately 12 noon EST each Wednesday.
  • Lifetime access to the videos.
  • There is a Facebook group which is private for PWF students.

And here’s my invitational link to join – please make sure that if you want to take part, join today or tomorrow before the Early Bird tuition goes away.

You’ll be joining a wonderful community of talented teachers and students!

 

 

 

 

Three Lessons learned (so far) from The Enso Circle

enso circle logo

The Enso Circle, developed by Michelle Belto and me,  is a new concept in creative communities. It’s a virtual artists’ residency program, joined through application, and limited to twelve participants.

The Circle has definitely exceeded our hopes, both as a successful model for group dynamics and as a platform for encouraging individual artistic achievement.

Part of the appeal of The Enso Circle is that each individual artist sets an individual goal. It could be something specific, like creating twelve pieces of fiber art for an upcoming exhibition, or it could be something general such as learning more about encaustics and producing three exploratory works. Journaling is encouraged, but not required, and there is lots of lively 24/7 conversation in our Slack space.

A huge hunk of icing on the cake for me is what I’m learning as an artist as I work right alongside the Enso Residents on my own project, a series of encaustic collage works with historic photographs of child laborers from the early 20th century.

Here are three huge takeaways I’ve gleaned at this point in the term – they are not new ideas, but the “learning part” is how effective and important they are to getting art accomplished.

ONE: SET A GOALIT’S THE SETTING, NOT THE SPECIFIC GOAL

Just do it – write down a goal based on something you are already doing, something you have always wanted to do, something based on another artist’s intriguing techniques that you want to explore in your own style (yes, that’s OK). Two of our Residents have changed their goals since the started – they knew what felt right, so they adjusted. That’s OK, too.

My own goal was pretty specific: Working from dark to light in mixed media and encaustic photocollage pulling images from the dark of the past to the light of the present. In 1904, the National Child Labor Committee formed in the hopes of ending the horrors of child labor. One of these investigators was the photographer Lewis Hine, who traveled across the country meeting and photographing children working in a variety of industries.

I’ve never been a write-down-your-goal person before, but, boy does it help!!

Here’s one of my first experiments toward my goal:

This led to my panel idea (below).

TWO: MAKE A TIMELINE – REVIEW IT OFTEN AND HAVE A MIDPOINT

I wanted to be halfway this week. I had decided to make five panels, each with photographs of the children on black backgrounds. If that timeline didn’t exist, I probably would have thought “too busy” and just let the project lapse, but I felt a self-imposed obligation, thanks to the others in the Enso Circle who were all reporting on their own progress.

Here’s the halfway point – the screen panels have been finished and connected. I had to figure out the best way to connect the waxed panels, and ended up using strips of hand-dyed canvas. It worked great.

Next will come finishing the back with handwritten stories of each of the children pictured  on the front . I’m still not sure what that will look like, but I’ll ask my fellow Residents what they think.

THREE: SHARE YOUR WORK – WARTS AND ALL

Even if you don’t belong to a structured community such as The Enso Circle, you can still do a “show and tell” with like-minded friends. Do it on a regular basis. Right now, it will probably be virtual through images shared on Instagram, email, or Facebook, but it won’t be long before we can gather again in small groups.

I have learned about the importance of talking about work in progress – it’s an authentic way to expose yourself to feedback. In the Circle, we use Slack, uploading pictures, asking questions, and making comments. So far, the sharing seems to be keeping us all on track.

Here’s how Katherine, one of our Resident Artists, put it:

It is unbelievably helpful to see other artists in action. To truly see the individual style, prep and steps along the way of each artist and their projects. To see successes and failures and the opportunities in the those too.

I will be putting together a mid-term catalog of Works in Progress from our Residents – stay tuned for that in the next week or so.

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I hope my three takeaways from The Enso Circle help. You can do this for yourself, particularly if you are stuck and feeling kind of directionless.

And while I’m not formally recruiting for The Enso Circle, we are taking applications for the Second Term, which begins on June 14. It you are interested, here’s the link to the application.

Thanks for reading, and take good care.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” —Bill Copeland