In retrospect . . .

Delaware artist Rebecca Raubacher at her retrospective exhibit, Rehoboth Art League

What is a “retrospective”? In art-speak, it’s an exhibition showing the development of the work of a particular artist over a period of time. I met Rebecca Raubacher last Friday in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, at an event honoring her and her retrospective show at the Rehoboth Art League. Here’s one of her early drawings.

Debby, Rebecca Raubacher, 1976

Talking with her got me thinking about how our paths as artists change and build over the years. Rebecca has always been a consummate draftsman, and her current paintings have a lot of mixed media drawing techniques with oil sticks and metallic inks. Her themes of faces and figures has continued throughout her career.

Rebecca Raubacher, 2015, Watercolor, graphite, sepia ink, and metallic and opaque markers on paper 11 in x 14

So here’s the question for you – have you gone back recently and looked at your earlier work? (This is not a “have-you-gotten-better” question – who even knows what “better” is anyway.) And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been making art for one year or fifty. All of us choose what to keep and what to leave behind. That choosing and abandoning gives us our “style.”

Thanks to a house fire in ’83 (arg), I don’t have much of my earliest undergrad work back in the 60’s. I did take a photo of this piece called “Datachip” which I did in 1979. It’s hard to get a good photo of a drawing behind glass, but you get the idea.

Lyn Belisle, Datachip, graphite and PrismaColor, 24×30″, 1979

Shortly after that, I abandoned drawing for a while and started making a series of large-scale origami kimonos and other large collages which sold well in the ’80s and ’90s.

And like a lot of other artists, I was doing commercial art along the way, like these covers for the NEISD Community Education program – they were mostly collages, too:

And my love for clay has always followed me around – here’s a bowl I did in the 80’s – faces and clay!

So the things I’ve kept are clay, collage, images of faces, and earth colors. I’m still experimenting within those areas. And, overall, the idea of “shards” – constructing new things from small found objects, images and clues from the past, connects the dots for me.

Go back and look at your own work. What colors and themes and images predominate? I read a lot of those advice-for-artist blogs that say, “Get out of your comfort zone! If you like neutrals, go wild with color! If you like watercolor, try oils!” I don’t necessarily agree. Our style develops from our intuition about what we do best.

Our personal retrospective journey is just that, a journey. We take what we discover along the way and build on it. More likely than not, the work of other artists influences us but it doesn’t define us as we keep what resonates and forgo the rest.

So your homework is to find the oldest piece of personal artmaking that you have, and give it a good look. Post it on Facebook if you like! See what changes you’ve made. Think a bit about your personal retrospective. It’s fun and enlightening.

Georgia O’Keeffe, drawing of hand, age 14

 

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Wednesday all-day workshop with NEISD art teachers

The workshop schedule/format at my studio has changed for a number of reasons – smaller space, my increased responsibility as president of the San Antonio Art League, and just general life changes – but I’m always happy to accommodate special groups like yesterday’s art teachers from North East ISD.

They had requested an all-day session that would give them six hours of CEU credit and jump start their school year with some new ideas for themselves and their students. We decided on a workshop that was similar to the one I taught in Provincetown. It has a little bit of everything – composition, storytelling, photo manipulation, mark-making, encaustic and collage.

We worked hard from 10-4 in the studio, and each participant created a beautiful portfolio of four five mixed media works, one of which was chosen to be matted. Want to see photos from the day’s workshop? Start scrollin’ down and see it step-by-step!

Mixed media stash ready!

We prepare the substrate by taping the edges with blue painters’ tape for a clean border

Once the composition is in place, we veil with white paint

. . .and then use an old credit card to scrape off and reveal chosen sections

Notice how the placement of the objects makes a unified composition

Some quiet work time —

First works are pinned up to the wall for discussion – lookin’ good!

Suggestions are marked up on one of the example handouts

Melissa adds her work to the critique wall

There’s a lot of good image alteration in this one

One of my favorites – subtle and painterly

Although these pieces are studies rather than finished works, they are quite lovely

After lunch, we start working with beeswax, incorporating some simple encaustic techniques

Book foil is a bright addition to the wax layer

Remember this piece from the morning session? It’s layered with beeswax.

This mixed-media collage uses family photos and letters enhanced by beeswax

You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and you can make art without messing up a studio!

Each person chose one piece to may and display at the end-of-class critique

This is Melissa’s strong work that you saw earlier, this time with beeswax added – notice the vertical blue line and the fantastic marks

Grizelda pulled together a lovely collage of vintage family photos and memories

S’lena’s work is perfectly balanced between image and pattern – the faint writing in the background is a secret layer of history that only she knows

Susan’s work evokes Renaissance themes . . . it’s horizontal rather than vertical

This piece is mine, and is the demo piece I did as I worked along with the others

Happy art teachers, beautiful work, and proud teacher –

I think this workshop format is perfect, at least it was for us. It worked because:

  • We had all day to really explore and immerse ourselves – we even ate lunch at the work table and discussed the process
  • Four to five people is the right number for this space – good dynamics, intimate atmosphere
  • The workshop topic had lots of structure, but also lots of room for exploration with many techniques that could be extended into individual work

This may be the new workshop model at Lyn Belisle Studio. Let me know if you have a small group who might like to spend a day with me making art.

In the meantime, I’ll be teaching a “Postcards to Myself” workshop at the San Antonio Art League on Sunday, August 29th as a fundraiser and introduction to the Art League. I’ll put the details up this weekend and post it on Monday.

Special thanks to all of the teachers who worked with me yesterday – art education is in good hands with you to guide and mentor creative kids!

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Studio visit – James Wyatt Hendricks, SAAL&M 2017 Artist of the Year

James Wyatt Hendricks has been named the 2017 Artist of the Year for the San Antonio Art League & Museum. Lucky us!

And lucky me to get to visit his Alamo Street studio yesterday. Wow! I encourage you to mark your calendar right now for the opening of his exhibition at SAAL&M on Sunday, September 10th, 3-5 pm. It’s going to be a blockbuster!

James’s sculpture in progress for Laurel Ridge Hospital – huge sheet of metal balanced by incredibly detailed birds

James’s works ranges from mammoth steel sculptures to incredibly delicate Prisamacolor drawings. With 30 years of experience as an artist and craftsman his art is expansive and eclectic.

Frida lamp by James Wyatt Hendricks – I’m in line for the next one!

In a recent interview, James said,

“I work at my studio on a wide range of mediums that include oil painting, stone carving, forged steel, cast bronze, printmaking and traditional welding. I am considered a master craftsman, and I take my work very seriously.”

We talked about the fact that both of us share a background in commercial design – and that both of us worked as illustrators for the Express-News. James has an amazing ability to switch from teeny tine detail design on his Mac to welding huge sheets of steel.

It’s impressive to see him at work in his studio. Here’s a short video of some of the cool things I saw yesterday during our visit.

Studio Visit with James Wyatt Hendricks from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

James is so engaging and talks about his work with an insight and sensitivity that is totally authentic – you will enjoy meeting him. You can read more about his work in this article from the Express-News.

As I said, this is going to be a blockbuster exhibit at the San Antonio Art League & Museum on September 10th. Invitations will go out later in August. Email me if you’d like to be on the list.

And you are not to late to catch the last two weeks of “Visions of Summer”, the current exhibit  at the Art League – through July 30th!

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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

2 copy

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

3 copy

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!!

A new website – and it’s mine, all mine!

TAH-DAH!! New studio, new website - life is bueno!

TAH-DAH!! New studio, new website – life is bueno!

Whew! My new website is finished (or as finished as those things ever get – tweak tweak). Take a look!

coverweb

I built it myself so I could include things like links to my Etsy page and a “Your Page” place to show video tutorials for you guys. It also has a super easy link to the Behind the Veil encaustic collage ebook, which makes downloading a snap.

Creating a new site was hard, but worth it! And it works sooooo much better than the old website, which had been around since the dawn of the Internet.

SHARDS readers are the first to see this, and I would greatly appreciate any feedback or suggestions, positive or negative (sometimes negative is a very good thing).

Yeah, I know the studio workshops aren’t up yet, but they will be soon, and the check-out process should be simple and easy.

So here’s the link – thanks for checking it out!! And stay warm and dry this weekend – here in South Texas it’s gonna get nasty – brrrrrrrr.

Santa Fe Whirlwind

So I went to Santa Fe – yeah, I know, I didn’t call, I didn’t write – I definitely didn’t blog! It was a crazy experience – fun, intense, exciting, exhausting. 

The huge Buffalo Thunder Resort Hotel just outside Santa Fe was the venue for the giant Artisans Materials Expo where I taught two encaustic workshops as part of the Encaustic Art Institute (EAI) and International Encaustic Artists (IEA) conference and retreat. Internet reception was very spotty there (that’s my excuse for not keeping in touch).

However, they did have an astonishingly extensive collection of Native American art pieces throughout the huge hotel – some traditional , some contemporary. It was eye candy for the soul 🙂

Michelle Belto was a great teaching teammate and travel partner. She is also a riot to hang out with. She taught a solo workshop on Thursday, we co-taught on Friday, and I taught a solo workshop on Saturday. Here are some photos from our Friday “Wax and Bling” class. There was glitz everywhere – fun stuff.

Friday night was the opening of  the Making Your Mark juried exhibit at the EAI Gallery in the Santa Fe Railyard art district. Michelle and I both had pieces in the show. The juror, David Limrite, was at the opening and gave a gracious statement about the 57 pieces work he selected for a field of over 200 entries.

The exhibit is a showcase of the many ways in which artists work in wax.

Here is a video presentation I made for the Santa Fe conference. It introduces the finalists for 2016 La Vendéenne Awards which honor excellence in encaustic painting. The awards took place on Saturday night.

This introduction will give you an idea of the depth and breadth of expertise present in artists who practice the versatile and ancient art medium of encaustic.

This ends Part One of the Santa Fe Report – stay tuned for Part Two later in the week which will include a couple of interesting links for you to check out as well as more photos……..

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EARTHWORKS: September 9-10

She Cat – created by Linda Rael, owned and cherished by Lyn Belisle

I know of no other artist whose works resonate in my heart as much as those of dear friend Linda Rael. Everything she creates makes me think, “Dang, I wish I had done that.” She incorporates animal bones and porcupine quills and rust and earth and tattered linen and other stuff that myths and magic are made of. I purely love her art!

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael – Fiber, Rust, Found Objects –  2016

It’s been a dream of mine for several years to collaborate with Linda on a show, and recently, over a long lunch, we decided to go for it! We are calling this show “Earthworks” – it reflects a direction that we’ve both been exploring, going to ground, leaving behind bright color and adding elements one might find along a stream bed or sacred path.

earthworks copy

The works will be on exhibit at my Studio for just two days during the second weekend of September. 

Many of Linda’s new pieces are fiber-based and hand-rusted with the natural patterns adorned and enhanced with hand stitching. My own pieces will be mostly sculptural, much like my neo-santo series, but less refined, more weathered.

Want to see a few sneak preview photos? Please take a look, then mark your calendar now because the availability of these works is limited to September 9-10 only.  You won’t want to miss this event – it’s always fun to visit the Studio, and I am thrilled that Linda is joining me in this amazing two-day exhibit called Earthworks.

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

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Thank you, Brother Cletus

cletus

Saying goodbye to this San Antonio icon and artist is so hard. Brother Cletus died yesterday. Cletus Behlmann, S.M., a Marianist Brother, taught for 19 years before arriving in San Antonio to become a full time artist. He settled in San Antonio in 1977 and began operating the St. Mary’s University Art Center.

He captured the heart of the city in his painting and in his personal life with his affable, self-effacing wit and generous spirit. Those of us who were lucky enough to know him were blessed, but his work speaks to everybody through joyous color and dancing line.

Thank you, Brother Cletus, for sharing your life and art with us – we will miss you so much, but we know where you live. 🙂

 

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Anatomy of an art purchase scam

karma

Here’s how it works – or doesn’t, in this case. You get an email from someone who is interested in your work:

Dear Lyn,
Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creative works on

your website and i will like you to get back with more details if they
are still available for purchase. I will appreciate an urgent reply.
Best Regards, Betty J

Sounds a little weird, but what’s the harm in following up, right? I mean, who purchases art online without knowing the size or price?? I was curious – and a bit  suspicious.

 Hi, Betty,
Thanks so much for your inquiry. Some of the pieces are available. They are on display now at a gallery in Kerrville As far as I know, 2/9 and 3/9 have not sold. I’ll be glad to call the gallery and make sure.  What else can I tell you about them that might be helpful? Sizes? Price? Thanks again,
 Lyn

Good old Betty writes back, her grammar slipping a bit in her excitement to purchase my “creative works.”

Hi Lyn,
  Thanks so much for your response to my query about those creative
  works. I will like to proceed with the purchase of both pieces . Can
  you pls confirm the actual size and  price  of the two pieces so I
  can know how best to proceed.  I will also like to know  what inspire you
  to make the pieces. I will look forward to hearing from you soon.
 
  Best Regards,
  Betty.

Obviously, there’s something fishy here – I’m getting more and more curious about how it will play out. I give Betty the info about the pieces and what “inspire” me – I’ll spare you that part. I tell her that both pieces together will be $900. She writes back.

 Hi Lyn,
 It is nice to hear back from you. I will like to proceed with the
 purchase of both pieces. I think they are lovely works and I hope to
 give them a good home. I am presently away on vacation but I should be
 back in few days.

 1481 NE 104th St
 Miami Shores, FL 33138

 Meanwhile, can you pls get back with your mailing address and phone
 number so I can inform my husband on where to forward the payment. I
 can have him send the payment asap. About shipping, you can handle it
 from your side to my mailing address above or I can forward your
 contact info to the local cartage company handling my shipment. They
 can arrange FedEx or UPS pick up of the artworks from your studio.

 I will look forward to hearing from you so I can know how best to
 proceed. Cheers.

 

Husband’s assistant? She implies that there’s money there. Obviously, I go online and check the address – there’s no such person at that address, but it’s in a very swanky neighborhood in Miami Shores, Florida. Still curious, I send ol’ Betty the mailing address at my studio and then kind of forget about it for a week or so.

Lo and behold, last Saturday, as I’m talking to a friend at the studio, the mailman drops of an urgent delivery envelope with a check for $2300 inside made out to Lyn Belisle Studio. The check and the bank appear to be quite legit. I have no idea where it came from until I get an email from Betty that evening – hmmm –

Hi Lyn,
Hope this message finds you well. I am very sorry I have not been able
to get in touch for the past couple of days. It has been a very busy
time for my family with my sister’s wedding and a big move so I have
been away from my computer.

Anyway, I will like to confirm that the payment was sent by my
husband’s assistant this week and he was advise it will arrives on
Saturday or Monday via USPS with tracking number (
9405501699320079030307 ) so kindly be on the look out for it.
Best Regards,
Betty.

I write back:

Hi, Betty,
I received the check on Saturday and I am thoroughly confused about the amount. It is far greater than the price of the work that you requested. Can you clarify? I am grateful, but want to make sure the transaction is fair and accurate for you.Thanks ever so much, Lyn

And then . . .KA – CHING! What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

Hi Lyn,
I got your email now. Thanks for the update. I am so excited you have
received the payment and can’t wait to have the artworks on my wall. I
hope to give them a very good home and enjoy the pieces for many
years. Regarding the check , my husband made a terrible mistake and overpaid
you because he didn’t have full details of the transaction since I was
too busy when he sent it. I am very sorry for the confusion but I will
like you to go ahead and deposit the check, deduct the cost of the
pieces plus shipping to my vacation address below . Then you can
forward the difference back to him.

Kindly acknowledge this email as soon as you can. Thanks.

Best Regards,
Betty.

That rascally husband – don’t ya hate it when they make terrible mistakes? I told Betty that I was returning the check. I’ve heard nothing from her since. Surprise!

This is apparently a common scam, often aimed at artists. There are examples of it all over the Internet, but I was surprised at a couple of things – one, how quickly she befriended and flattered  me and developed a story line about her family, complete with personal touches.

The second thing was that the impact of a real check being delivered through official mail has a lot of impact even though you know it’s not a legitimate transaction – who couldn’t use an extra $2300? And it was not an exorbitant over-payment, just tempting enough to be plausible. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to prove anything without actually depositing the check and agreeing to the sale.

Anything like this happen to any of you? For me, it was interesting and merely annoying, but I imagine it could be devastating for someone who fell for it and ended up having to pay a lot of money back. Here’s a good link for artists about such slimy scammy matters: www.artscams.com/

So, does anybody want to buy these two fine pieces of art? They’re available 🙂

Have a lovely day – and be careful out there.

 

 

What a weekend – high fives all around

I absolutely love showing off my students’ work, and this weekend I had two workshop opportunities to give a round of high fives!

Saturday, the talented Karen McCauley, artist and teacher at the Coppini Academy, brought her group over to the studio for three hours of encaustic  collage exploration. Here are some of the details of their work – notice the depth and texture that the beeswax layers produce. (Remember, if you can’t see the photo gallery, click on the top of this post to take you to the original site)

Lots of people ask me about the foil that produces those fine gold lines – encaustic artists call it “Book Foil.” I learned about it from Michelle Belto. You can order it under other names, including this one from Amazon. Just remember, it takes a few layers of wax to make it stick to the surface of your work.

foil

 

 

 

On Sunday, I taught an acrylic painting workshop inspired by some of the techniques I learned with Jane Davies at our Big Fat Art Weekend – line, shape, texture pattern, layering (thanks, Jane!).

This was not an easy workshop to grasp, particularly for beginning painters who had just three hours to practice the process. but they did it! The abstract acrylic studies they produced are beautifully symbolic and richly constructed over layers of marks and color history. Take a look!

I am convinced that there is some sort of magic synergy that takes place at the Studio when a group gathers for a three-hour workshop. The students never fail to amaze me – and themselves – with their insightful artwork. They help make Lyn Belisle Studio a true place of creative belonging, and, dang, am I grateful! Good work, everyone – what a winner of a weekend!