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.

Workshop Formats, lifelines, and learning

Yesterday I did my first official “live” Zoom workshop for a creative group sponsored by the Boerne Public Library.

It was a whole ‘nother way of teaching. I could interact with the participants in a limited way, and everything was happening in “real time,” but it wasn’t like sitting around a worktable together.

Here’s a little video of what the workshop interface looked like – many thanks to library gurus Caren Creech and Robin Stauber for setting up the Zoom class.

There will be three more Zoom Workshops in this series, all on Thursdays at 2:00 during December, and anyone can join. For information, email Caren Creech at the Library.

Here’s another segment (about ten minutes)  from that live Zoom workshop on Lotus Books at the Library if you want to take a look.

As a long-time teacher, I am intensely curious about how people want to distance-learn. There is a link on my website that asks what method of teaching that viewers prefer if in-person real-time instruction isn’t possible, which is an unfortunate reality these days. Here are the choices I suggest in the website survey:

About 200 people have responded so far, and there is no strong preference, but the two most popular online formats so far are “Online Classes with Several Videos” and “Zoom Discussion Groups.”
So I’m going to add “Live Zoom Workshops” to the list of choices after yesterday’s really fun experience. If you have a suggestion for a workshop that could be done with this live Zoom format in 90 minutes or less, send it along!
Meanwhile, the self-paced workshops at Teachable are really going well – more than 500 people are participating in both the the free and fee-paid workshops. Here’s that link.
And if you want to jump right into the free Lotus Book class, click here.
You may wonder why I’ve been talking so much lately about online teaching. For one thing, it’s MY creative lifeline to fellow artists and learners.
For another thing, comments sent to me like the ones below help me realize that we are all in this together, and the more we can connect as a community, the happier and healthier we can be.

Hi, Lyn,
I have so enjoyed your free tutorials online! I attended an encaustic workshop with you a couple years ago and can’t wait to take another one when COVID is no longer an issue. I brought the “Spread the word” one to our church youth group. I believe that focusing on a word of healing or hope is so important.

Hi Lyn,
I have been going back and forth between your eBook offerings with accompanying videos and the Teachable platform method of delivering your content. I must say that I truly like the ease of going from one video to the next with the Teachable method of delivery. It is far superior to having to log into to each Vimeo video separately. I absolutely like this method of presentation much better. It’s so much easier to follow, stay in the flow of your workshop and repeat segments easily for more clarification. Two thumbs up for finding a great way to creating online workshops. Kudos to you for being such a great teacher…I don’t think I could get to Texas🧡🧡 so this is the next best thing🧡🧡

Thanks, Everyone, for reading SHARDS today – like a lot of us, I have had a difficult time getting motivated to write, and even to focus on the next step at the studio, but knowing that you are out there, too, makes it nicer.

If a tree falls in a forest, and there are a bunch of us around to hear it (even if we can’t see each other), we can all say, “Whoa, what the heck was that??” Now THAT’s profound.

Q. When is a workshop NOT a workshop?

Q. When is a workshop NOT a workshop?

A. When it’s a resource collection of materials, links, tips, and freebies.

I am finally getting all of my favorite materials with their sources in one place in my Workshop Studio on Teachable, and sharing it with YOU. I got (stole?) the idea from Pamela Caughey’s Art and Success school.

The RESOURCES “class” kind of looks like a workshop, and it’s free, but it’s more of a grab bag of ideas and art stash. Check it out.

Here’s what up there right now. Every resource has a link. I explain why I like them and how I use them.

MY TOP FIVE MATERIALS

These are materials that are somewhat unique to my workshops, my five “signature” favorites. You probably won’t find them on everyone’s lists of materials because they are a bit unusual. I’m often asked for sources – so here they are, all in one place. And what’s even more remarkable – you can get all five of them together for under $50.

WALNUT INK ($6)
GOLDEN FLUID ACRYLIC, QUINACRIDONE AZO GOLD ($9)
ARTIFICIAL SINEW ($14)
BEESWAX ($13)
BOOK FOIL ($7)

FIVE MORE MUST-HAVE FAVORITES

Like the first list, these things are materials or tools I use in virtually every workshop. They don’t take up a lot of room, they are very affordable and versatile, and they do a specific job and do it well. You can get all five of these for about $65 – or the cost of a dinner out in a nice restaurant (remember the days when we went to restaurants?) 🙂

EK TOOLS HOLE PUNCHER ($11)
ARTISTS’ WHITE TEMPERA PAINT ($9)
POTTER’S TOOL SET ($10)   (My “Best Art Bargain”)
HANDMADE DRAGON CLOUDS MULBERRY PAPER SHEETS ($16)
BOOKBINDING KIT ($18)

The best thing is that you can order them all online in one place, and the whole assortment of ten essentials for your mixed-media studio costs just a little over $100. ______________________________________________

Other things on the Resources page include:

WORKSHOPS: SELECTED LISTS OF MATERIALS. . .( these lists give you an idea about the scope of the workshops)

FREE PRINTABLES. . . (collections of designs to print out and use in collage or other projects)

FREE LESSON PREVIEWS. . .(selected preview lessons from several different workshops, all in one place)

As I said, check it out, and let me know what else you would like to see on that RESOURCES page – it’s a never-ending project!

A surprise gift for you that lights up!

OK, so all of you who take my online workshops really DO light up my life. Your response to the Prayer Flag Sampler has been amazing. It reinforces my conviction that we all continue to need hope and optimism in the weeks ahead.

So here’s a new FREE workshop that I just finished. It’s based on an article that I wrote for Cloth Paper Scissors. Some of you have done this workshop in person at my studio and you know how much fun it is to create these simple, lovely votive lanterns.

I’ve spent the last few days making how-to videos of the process so everyone can learn to make them, and the new workshop, called Glowing Paper Votive Screens, is ready for you! You just need to join the school if you haven’t already, then scroll down to the enroll button, and you are in. No catch, no cost.

Offering these free workshops is one small way I can contribute to keeping us creative and inspired during this unbelievably challenging year. I’ve provided you with a materials list and some other resources as well as the video lessons.

By the way, those of you who have taken the free Lotus Book workshop will see it featured in the upcoming issue of Wax FusionInternational Encaustic Artists digital magazine very soon – I’ll be sure to give you that link when it’s available. I wrote the article to celebrate the joys of sharing a small project with many other artists, and some of the wonderful student work is featured. Over 200 people have already enrolled in that class – and my sister-in-law loves this project so much that she’s even opened an Etsy shop featuring her Lotus Books! Yay!

But your homework assignment right now is to sign up for the Glowing Paper Votive Screens workshop and get busy spreading some light around this sweet (but tired) old world.

Even if you’re not ready to start today, it is a self-paced class, ready for you when you are ready for it – but don’t wait too long. The holidays are coming soon, and these will make beautiful gifts and table adornments.

As always, thanks for all you do – trust yourself, trust the process, stay safe – and VOTE.

♥Lyn

 

Blessings from Bri – prayer flag inspirations

I just finished the last video for my new workshop called Strands of Light: A Prayer Flag Sampler. Now comes the editing, the writing, and the uploading to my online classroom – and it WILL be done by October first. Yikes, that’s just a week from now!

The person I called on for advice when I got the idea for this prayer flag workshop was my friend Briana Saussey, writer, teacher, and spiritual counselor. Bri holds a B.A. and M.A. in Eastern and Western classics, philosophy, mathematics and science from St. John’s College (Annapolis and Santa Fe), and is a student of Ancient Greek and Sanskrit.

While I can (joyfully) teach the techniques for making prayer flags, it’s Bri who is the expert on the heart of the matter – creating and offering prayers and blessings. She graciously agreed to partner with me as my “expert witness” to the power of spirituality  in our art making. Without that component, a prayer flag is simply a piece of decorated cloth.

Bri has agreed to share her Daily Blessings with the workshops participants as well as her thoughts on the subject. Here is an excerpt from an interview we did earlier in September. I asked her about the nature of prayer and blessings.

Excerpt from an interview with Briana Saussey for the Strands of Light Prayer Flag workshop from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

I am so grateful to Briana for her help. Incidentally, she has a new book out called Making Magic. I love my copy of this book – it’s very surprising in many ways, and very practical.

Here are two of the prayer flag/blessing banners that I made for the upcoming Strands of Light workshop. Both use Bri’s Daily Blessings as inspiration.

So when the workshop opens on October 1st, you’ve got all kinds of resources, both artistic and spiritual, to make a fine flock of prayer flags and blessing banners! Hope to see you then. I’m off to the studio make a little prayer flag to honor RBG.

♥Lyn

A cat gallery and a surprise workshop

(The Surprise Workshop is at the bottom of this post – but first, check out the cats)

 

What is it about cats? One of my online workshops is calledThe Mystical Cat Shaman,” and the photos I’m getting from students of their magical critters are just brilliant. I thought you’d like to see a few of them.

This one is by JoliBlanch, who writes, “I wanted to do a 2020 healing shaman. So in that spirit, since cats and birds don’t usually socialize,  the birds are there symbolic of The wish for unity among all peoples. The heart is the love energy needed, the blue crystal is healing energy, and the gold bead represents the God energy. The milagros on either side represent the magic we all need now. So – angel wings, dragons, unicorn and faerie energy.”

Next, we have two Cat Shamans by Barbara Linderman. She says, “I took your online Cat Shaman class this summer.  Attached are pics of my two creations.  It had been a while since I had done any kind of mixed media work and your class has inspired me to do more.”

Meet “The Collector” and “The Fortune Teller.”

Finally, here are some figures that go in their own fabulous direction by doll-maker Kathryn Hall. She notes. “I really enjoyed your video class Lyn, so thought I’d show you my take on it.  I made two cats and two crows.  I make my own faces from polymer clay.” 

Look at these faces! And the bodies!

All of these pieces are so creative. When I teach a workshop, i hope for exactly this – original artwork inspired by my lessons but not copied from my work! Yay!

I’m so grateful to all the makers in the Cat Circle – I’ll share more soon. The workshop is still available if you are ready to make you own Cat (or crow – or dog?) Shaman. Just click here to checkout the free preview lessons.

_______________________________________________________________________

And now — the SURPRISE WORKSHOP!!!

In one of our first collaborations, Michelle Belto and I did a class called Mask, Robe, and Rune.

Michelle just made this workshop available on her Teachable site. It’s a wonderful project that combines faces, waxed collage papers, free-standing sculptures, and spooky runes and writings. Because it’s been previous published, you can sign up for just $29 for the entire course with both of us team teaching.

Here’s an example of the Mask, Robe and Rune mixed-media assemblage – you will learn to make those great papers to use as the “robes” on the figures – and much more. Thanks, Michelle!! Here’s that link.

Remember what our ancestors told us“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” You don’t want any devils in your workshop. Check out the Cat Shaman and Mask, Robe and Rune and keep your hands out of trouble!

 

 

The pie is out of the oven

Just this afternoon, Michelle Belto and I finished our first collaborative workshop on Teachable. I say “collaborative,” but it has been the weirdest collaboration I ever was a part of!

Apparently, we were both insane from quarantine, because we agreed to do an experiment in which each of us made a serious artwork based on the theme of “Apple Pie.” The catch was that neither of us would share what we were doing until the bitter end. We would never see each each other in person, and we would film the whole thing in lesson format for a workshop.

Here’s my studio where I filmed the Apple Pie collaboration – notice the real apple for inspiration . . .

It was an amazing experience. We had our final Zoom call this afternoon, and both of us commented that it felt like we were working blind, filming alone in our studios, trying to figure out our next moves and having to talk about it to our invisible audience. There are many funny, teachable moments.

Here’s part of a lesson that I did, not having any idea how this apple print would turn out. It was, indeed, “less than thrilling,” but it gave me a great new idea that you’ll see in the next lesson if you take the workshop.

We ended up with a total of six hours of video lessons between us – not just the “technique” kinds of lessons, but lessons in what it’s like to truly “trust the process” and hope the right decision comes along fast.

I invite you to look at the free lessons on the Cooking Up a Collaboration workshop page. While I’d love for you to sign up, you’ll get to see the final results in the lessons called “The Goddess of Apple Pie” and “Family Recipe” from the free previews. Here’s the link.

I’ll be sending out a newsletter in the next day or so with more workshop and studio news, and a give-away, but in the meantime, I’m gonna go have a piece of apple pie.

Take good care,

Lyn

From frustration to fruition, blobs and all

Do you have a “frustration pile”?  It’s a stack of artwork that isn’t bad enough to trash or paint over completely, but it isn’t going anywhere, and maybe never will.

While I was working on my Lotus Book workshop, I found several 11×14″ encaustic and mixed media collages in that pile that had never quite come together for me and were just sitting there. It occurred to me that I could make cover-sized (4.5″ x 4.5″) squares for Lotus Books from the work.

Here’s one of those collages. It’s not terrible, but it lacks focus and purpose. I remember that I was trying six or seven techniques, and I learned a lot, but the piece already looks as if it’s begging to be  cut into squares. Right?

I whacked it mercilessly (but carefully) with my trusty Ingento paper cutter. Here are the resulting six book covers.

If you’ve taken my free Lotus Book workshop, you know that the back side of a cover doesn’t have to be waxed because the pages stick directly to it.

But there is one more important step to make these more suitable for Lotus Book covers. Because the paper cutter leaves a clean, but unfinished edge, it’s best to dip each of the four edges into the wax medium to smooth and seal them.

You can see, below, that the wax-dip barely noticeable, but it makes a big difference in helping the newly-cut covers feel finished.

Here’s a tip – let the dipped edges cool a bit before you turn it to dip the next edge. Otherwise, you will end up with a blob.

Oops. The blob can be scraped off, but best to do it right and be patient (which is NOT one of my best virtues).

And, Voila! A new Lotus Book arises like the Phoenix from the Pile of Frustration!

Now, if you have sharp eyes, you’ll see that I left the Blob on that cover. Blobs add character, and don’t let anybody talk you out of your blobs, personal or artistic! Perfection is boring.

A couple of notes:

The free Lotus Book workshop is going strong, and I encourage you to check out my workshop studio on Teachable. You’ll be joining a group of almost 200 satisfied lotus-bookies. Here’s the link.

If you want to see a fun, short video on a related subject, check out my buddy Michelle Belto‘s take on reusing her encaustic collages – it will inspire you to start cutting! Here’s the link.

Be safe, trust the process, and celebrate your blobs today!

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

Fat fiber and skinny holes – Carolyn to the rescue!

Just because I call myself a “mixed-media artist” doesn’t mean I am good at everything. On the contrary.

When I took a seed-beading workshop a few years ago, I got so frustrated trying to threading those microscopic devil-beads onto a hair-thin sewing needle to attach them to a piece of felt, my table-mate finally said, “Honey, why don’t just just try hot glue?”‘

Threading stuff is not my strength. If you’ve watched my workshop videos, you may have noticed that I often have to change course after try to force a piece of fuzzy thread through a little hole in a clay face.

Fortunately, one of my online workshop participants, artist Carolyn Congrove from Tucson, took pity on me and just sent me this great video that she made to help me out! This is very cool.

She shows three easy approaches to threading wiggly big thread and ribbon though little holes without causing the threadee to have a nervous breakdown. I asked her if I could share it with you guys, and she said I could.

Her daughter April shot the helpful video. The floss-threader tip, as she says, is a game-changer.

 

This isn’t the first time Carolyn has helped me out – she sent some great photos of her lotus books that I used in one of my recent posts about giving gifts of art from your heart during this pandamic.

Carolyn Congrove

I have met so many nice (and helpful) people like Carolyn through the online workshops on my Teachable site. Don’t forget there are free workshops for you there, including the Lotus Book.

And if you want to trim your Lotus Book with some little-bitty beads on some wiggly fuzzy thread, Carolyn has come to our rescue.

Take care – stay cool!

Lyn

 

 

Imaginary friends, bossy inspirations

Human faces and figures, ancient or contemporary, fascinate me as summaries of life stories in the moment. The longer I work as an artist, the more focused my work seems to be on interpretations of those themes.

Clay, paper, beeswax, and fiber are my instinctive, beloved media, all of which lend themselves to representations of faces and figures as small sculptures, spirit dolls, and earthenware faces.

Below are two of the latest little figures (sticks, clay, found objects) which I just dropped off at Marta Stafford’s gallery in Marble Falls. They are called “StarSeason” (top) and “Pastime” (bottom)

Creating an assembled piece related to human form is different from creating an abstract painting – there’s still a lot of intuition, technique, and trust involved, but these small sculptures seem to function as creative “guides.”

It’s easier to tell what element a figurative assemblage “wants” than it is to tell what color a painting “wants,” at least to me. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird.

I discovered this when I started teaching Spirit Doll workshops a decade or so ago, and then re-learned it in the latest Spirit Doll workshop, now up on Teachable.

If you look at the second lesson in the Spirit Doll workshop (which is a free preview) you’ll see how a bunch of stick almost pull themselves together to become something with strong opinions and a personality! It’s really fun to be involved in that process.

I remember when I was putting this piece (below) together a couple of months ago (it’s kind of a cross between mixed-media sculpture and Spirit Doll), I felt strongly guided on what to do next. For example – when it came time to represent the hair, she wanted horsehair.

I didn’t even know I had any horsehair, but then I remembered that a friend had brought me some a long time ago at my old studio. I finally found a hank of pale, coarse horsehair in a buried Ziploc, and used it. The sculpture/spirit doll was right! Nothing else would have worked!

Then there’s Mojo Woman, who wanted everything but the kitchen sink – I listened to her, too – not sure about this one 🙂 See how smug she looks with all that stuff?

Anyway, join the new Spirit Doll workshop if you need a new imaginary best friend who can be a bit bossy. But if you don’t like having somebody telling you what to do, you may regret it!

Take good care,

Lyn

 

What do you have to say for youself??

Jane Dunnewold is a consummate contemporary fiber artist and a beloved internationally-known teacher. Her Creative Strength Training program has helped thousands of artists (including me) to discover and define their authentic creative selves.

Jane Dunnewold: Altar #1 – Wooden altar form “upholstered” with botanical prints on 140 lb watercolor paper. Approximately 10″ tall x 8″ wide.

Jane is also a heck of an interviewer! Her sharp mind and strong background in the arts gives her genuine curiosity and insight, and she knows exactly what questions to ask people.

So that’s why I was both thrilled and intimidated when she asked if she could interview me for her CST Guest Creative Interview Series.  

It was great! I learned so much – read on . . .

Here’s a short clip from the interview (there’s a link to the complete 30-minute interview at the end of the post). Before you watch it, ask yourself what you would say if Jane asked YOU about how spirituality informs your art practice . . .

Jane was kind enough to provide me with a list of potential questions in advance,which was a big help. But it’s really HARD to figure out exactly what makes yourself tick, much less express it in words to somebody else.

One HUGE thing this interview taught me is that, as artists. we really do have to be able to define our aesthetic for our own sake. If we can do that, it keeps us on the right track. It keeps us true to our own vision.

OK, now here are Jane’s questions directed at YOU. I want you to get out your notebook and write down some short answers as you interview yourself. (The spirituality question isn’t on the list, but it’s also a good one).

1. What do you do to get into a creative mindset before you begin working on a
project?
2. Do you have a special “routine” that helps you prepare for a studio day?
3. What are a couple of ways you deal with getting out of feeling stuck, and if that
never happens to you, can you share the reasons why? We’re fascinated by how artists’ minds work when obstacles present themselves.
4. How do you describe yourself as an artist?
5. Can you tell us briefly what processes and materials you work with, or like best?
6. Anything else you have discovered about being “creative” that you’d like to share?

This is a great exercise. And since all of us have some unexpected thought-time during this strange summer, it’s a good way to organize your thoughts. For example, you might find that the project you were considering just out of boredom is not right an that you should go back to an unfinished work and complete it.

As an extra challenge, sit yourself down in front of your iPhone with a cup of tea and video your answers as you interview yourself. You’ll thank me for it later 🙂

I’m so grateful to Jane for inviting me to do this. It’s helped me understand myself better as an artist.

One of the things I admire about Jane the most is her generosity to other artists – her YouTube tutorials, her Creative Strength Training program, which is not all about HER, but about US — and especially her insightful body of work, which redefines “fiber art.”

Here’s the link to the complete interview

So, what do you have to say for YOURself??

♥Lyn