Goodbye, ol’ pal – CraftArtEdu closes doors, leaves freebies

Waaa-aay back in 2013, I wanted to learn how to teach online classes. CraftArtEdu was a place I’d heard of from another artist, so I emailed them and asked if they needed teachers. They told me to develop a proposal, and they’d give me 30% of the tuition (wow) that I earned.

So I designed a simple composition class that later became the AB3 System that I’ve taught at workshops all over the country.

In retrospect, CraftArtEdu wasn’t really a good fit for me since most of the classes were about polymer clay, but I learned how to upload lessons and how to create content. I didn’t earn much money at all, but I’ll always be grateful to them for what I learned in my first time out on the Internet.

Now they are closing their doors – but they are leaving behind a library of free intro classes on Vimeo that you might want to take a look at. Most of these are photo-based rather than video based. There’s still lots of good step-by-step information, though. For example:

You can check out all 166 of these freebies at this one link:

All of them are short, basic lessons that might give you some inspiration. I have to say, the video lessons and DVDs I’m doing now for Artful Gathering are a lot more rewarding, but you gotta start somewhere, and CraftArtEdu was that place for me.
Thanks, Donna and Vern! Adios!

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Summer art camp registration is OPEN!

This summer, I’ll be teaching two workshops in a very special classroom at Artful Gathering, my fifth year there. Several of my friends have already registered – hi, Gaye, hi Joanna, hi Aileen!

Lots of people ask me about Artful Gathering – what exactly is it?? Well,  it’s an annual online art retreat that draws students from all over the world to virtual art studio classrooms where they interact with artists like Leslie Marsh, Debby Anderson, Keith Lo Bue – and me!

This year’s Artful Gathering theme is “Nature,” and I’m teaching two summer sessions this go-round. The first one, from June 6-July 17th is called Natural Expressions: Evocative Portraits using Nature’s Palette with Beeswax. It’s a comprehensive workshop that combines beeswax and rust with mixed media portraits. It also has two tech tutorials that show you where to find copyright-free images and then how to manipulate them with vintage effects – without Photoshop!

Here’s the description:

Session One: June 6 – July 17
Lyn Belisle guides you through the steps for creating mixed media portraits with natural materials, including layered beeswax. You’ll learn how to enhance digital images, tinting, preparing small stretched canvas substrates for layered collage, assembling a wrapped mat around a canvas substrate as well as attaching natural objects to a mat and integrating them into the mixed media composition.

And here’s a video clip that I lifted from the class introduction that shows you some of the things we will play with:

The tuition for this five-week class is $110, kinda like two regular workshops in my studio. If you’ve never participated in a virtual classroom before, it’s really fun. You can work at your own pace, but you can also have conversations with me and the other students at any time in our discussion forum during the five-week session. Here’s a link that will answer all of your questions about registration.

Click on the image below to go to the Directory of all the classes – heck, you might want to take somebody else’s class – my pal Michelle Belto is teaching one this summer, too!

I hope to see you at Artful Gathering – it’s a summer art camp without the mosquitoes.

 

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They found their wings. . .

. . . and, boy, did they soar! The women in yesterday’s class surpassed every expectation I had for our NeoSanto workshop, creating beautiful symbol-filled personal icons on canvas. And, as Robin said during our critique, “This is much more than just a canvas.”

I showed you the construction process in my last post, but what the students brought to it was the intangible sense of self. The idea of the NeoSanto is to interpret the traditional “santo” figure from the Southwest into a personal guardian. What resulted was one of the most meaningful art-making sessions and discussions that I can remember. I was honored to be there!

Take a look at their work in the video, below.

This may be the subject of the next workshop eBook! Many thanks to DeeDee, Pam, Robin, Marilyn and Lily for the amazing workshop synergy and generosity of spirit.

Up next – on to Artful Gathering! Meet me there in our virtual classroom – registration is open.

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In praise of nature

I’m lucky enough to live across the street from a woodland area, and when I go walking in the morning, my pockets are often filled with rocks or sticks or even little critter bones that I’ve picked up along the way.

These natural objects are like mysterious sentences in a story or lines in a poem without words. You do that, too – right?

Sometimes, these things end up in a big jar on my bookshelf, looking kinda creepy cool:

Jars of found nature objects on my bookshelves

Jars of found nature objects on my bookshelves – ok, so the face didn’t actually appear like that in nature 🙂

And sometimes, they end up in assemblages and little shrines.

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

So when Zinnia at Artful Gathering told our faculty that we would be teaching nature-themed classes this summer, I was ecstatic!! Artful Gathering is my favorite “summer camp” and online creative community. Here’s the description of my Nature Shrine class:

Session Two: July 16 – August 26

Lyn Belisle will show you how to make small shrine-like assemblages created from serendipitous finds in natural settings. Through the power of storytelling with symbols, Lyn will show you how to construct natural elements enhanced with her iconic air-dry faces. You’ll combine rocks and shards, twigs, leaves to create a meaningful non-verbal story.Then, using unconventional construction methods such as knotting, wiring and wrapping, you will create diverse surfaces on little 6 x 6 canvases that can be displayed in a variety of ways.

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As part of the Artful Gathering fun, we’re having a Blog Hop. That means that somewhere on my blog page, there’s a secret word for you to collect. It’s not too far, and when you collect all of the words, you can win truly nifty prizes. The secret word is right around here, AND it’s easy ( wink). Click here for more about the Blog Hop.

But wait, there’s more! In the first AG session, I’m teaching an encaustic portrait class called Natural Expressions – here’s the info:

LYN BELISLE_edited-1

Session One: June 6 – July 17
Lyn Belisle guides you through the steps for creating mixed media portraits with natural materials, including layered beeswax. You’ll learn how to enhance digital images, tinting, preparing small stretched canvas substrates for layered collage, assembling a wrapped mat around a canvas substrate as well as attaching natural objects to a mat and integrating them into the mixed media composition.

Obviously, I’d love to work with you in one or the other of these classes. We have an online classroom for questions and critiques and extra resources.

So here’s your homework:

1. See if you can find the “cleverly hidden” secret word to collect for the Blog Hop

2. Check out the Artful Gathering catalog to see the class offerings. Besides mine, there are some great classes by pals Debby Anderson, Michelle Belto, Monika Astara and Luthien Tye, among others.

3. Get out there in nature and collect a little object that calls to you and write a one-line poem about it!


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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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The serendipitous landscape of fantasy

Landscape collages in progress

Landscape collages in progress

Now THIS is one of my all-time favorite workshops – perfect for any level, full of serendipity, with absolutely gorgeous results. Here’s how I described the workshop online:

Using the technique of DÉCHIRAGE (day-shur-ah j’) – distressed paper collage –  students will gain a solid grasp on composing little landscapes using a variety of altered papers, natural elements, and mixed media special effects. Lyn will also share art-enhancing framing suggestions that compliment your finished work so that your final display is both appealing and professional looking. Even a total beginner can create a stunning artwork with these fun distressed paper techniques.

Yesterday’s participants in the Altered Paper Landscape Abstractions class rose to the occasion with some stunning work. Some people created several collages, some just one, but all were beautiful and individual. The hardest part was choosing which piece to mat for display.

I loved this comment from Ellen, “I got frustrated because couldn’t make it do what I wanted it to do, but when I let it do what it wanted, I loved it!!” Talk about trusting the creative process – when you let go and accept the beautiful, unpredictable results, magic happens.

Take a look at the video, below, and then I’ll give you the list of materials for this project.

Lyn Belisle’s Altered Paper Landscape Collages: Materials List and Source Notes

For the basic collage:

  • A 5×7” piece of matboard, illustration board, or very heavy card stock
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Walnut Ink from
    Tsukineko
  • Altered paper (see below)
  • Metal leaf
  • Stamps and inkpad, your choice
  • Lightweight paper to rub down elements as they are glued
  • Metallic felt tip pens and ultrafine Sharpie (optional)

For the altered paper:

  • Citrasolv orange oil-based cleaning solvent
  • National Geographic magazines or other clay-base ink photos – I encourage you to experiment

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Sources of materials:

  • Mat board scraps can be purchased or requested for free at most frame and craft shops. Look for ones that are dark colored with white on the back for the most versatile design options
  • Citrasolv is becoming widely available in art stores because of this popular altered paper method. You can usually find it at organic grocery stores such as Whole Foods, as well. Online: Citra Solv is now being sold through Cheap Joes, Jerry’s Artarama, Stampington, and DickBlick
  • Tsukineko Walnut Ink is very versatile for many projects and can be ordered from Imagine Crafts, the Tsukineko distributor:
  • I use Scotch permanent glue sticks, but most good brands will do nicely
  • Metal leaf is available in craft stores or can be ordered here on Amazon.com

If you want a very in-depth look at this process, including other altered papers such as “ghost paper” with bleach on black construction paper, I have a DVD called Small Worlds, published by Artful Gathering, that offers an intense discussion of how-to-do-it instructions, videos and demos. Happy new week, All!

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Cat Shamans, a serendipitous surprise kitten and a Friday Freebie

catshaman

Meow —  and Happy Friday. Yesterday was all about cats.

I’m teaching a class called The Mystical Cat Shaman at Artful Gathering this summer, and a group of local friends wanted to try it out. So we scheduled a custom weekday workshop held yesterday (you can do this too, by the way) and created a litter of Mystical Cat Shamans at the Studio!

The “serendipitous surprise” came as we were just starting. Roxanne was late, and she called in with a voice message, “Can you hear in the background why I’m not there yet?”  We all heard kitten mews on the speaker – adorable!

She brought the newly-rescued three-week-old kitten to the workshop and we took turns holding it while we worked. Roxanne is a consummate animal rescuer – she even had some kitten milk replacement formula with her. The little guy was pretty hungry.

Of course, the kitten found a home before the workshop was over. Whether it was the kitten surprise or the group energy, the Cat Shaman creations were amazing – each one different, each one magically personal. Take a look.

So if all of this inspires you, be sure that you are subscribed to SHARDS by midnight on Sunday. One name will be drawn to win the Friday Freebie – a Shaman Cat Starter Kit complete with Heart Box body and kiln-fired earthenware head, ready to finish. Even “dog people” are eligible, so feel free to share this post. Hmmm – are Dog Shamans in my future?

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Artful Gathering, Artful Abstraction

180 wingsAs you might guess, I’m excited to be teaching at Artful Gathering Online Art Retreats 2016, June 6 – July 17 and July 16 – August 26. The preseason kick-off includes the Artful Gathering annual Hop Contest.  I’m one of the featured  instructors this week! Just follow this link

These are the two uber-nifty classes I’m teaching for Artful Gathering – both designed by yours truly
A Story Within a Story: Narrative Collage Covers for your Personal Technology & Journals and The Mystical Cat Shaman. Be very afraid of that cat one – Meow!

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What’s in it for you, you ask?  When you join the class for just $85 each session, you get almost three hours of video instruction right from my studio, plus “live” feedback in our online classroom. And these workshops are never “sold out.”

This is my third year with Artful Gathering, and I wasn’t sure how it all worked when I first started. But it’s very cool! And you can come to class in your PJs! Registration opens on May 1st. Hope to see you at Artful Gathering!

smNow – –  on to ARTFUL ABSTRACTION.

Wednesday’s workshop, Abstract Acrylic Exploration, was hard work – just ask any of the participants! Painting from an abstract perspective is like walking a tightrope without a net – there are no representational objects to look at. You are on your own, trusting the process and making decisions every moment while trying not to over-think. It’s tough.

I am so proud of their results! Each of the students had the same guidelines (layers, textures, limited palette with just two colors on a 12×12″ canvas) but individuality ruled! Take a look at these amazing abstracts – intricate, passionate, personal – nice work, everyone!

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I can’t tell you what I did this weekend —

c5f4e638-93da-49ef-85f1-daae2cc99001–but it was fun!! Actually, here’s a hint from Artful Gathering:

“We are currently in video production for our 2016 online art event. This is an exciting time when our instructors are devoting themselves to creating a very special class to share with you this summer.”

So if you came by the Studio and saw a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door, you’ll know why you couldn’t come in. I absolutely love developing and designing classes for Artful Gathering, and I spend several days each January and February filming and editing my AG classes.

Yesterday, hard at work filming an Artful Gathering class about . . . . .

Yesterday, hard at work filming an Artful Gathering class about . . . . .

The classes are kept a secret until March first (which is why I can’t tell you about them yet), but you can get involved with Artful Gathering right now and win prizes from Jerry’s ArtaRama. Starting today you can join the AG Hop called “Bring Your Wings” and play along each week, while meeting our 2016 instructors, including me in an upcoming newsletter.

It’s simple – just read the featured instructor’s profile, find the secret word (each one has wings by it – easy) and collect them. I’m doing this myself because i get to see everybody’s portfolios and steal – er, get inspired by – their ideas! Here’s a piece by my pal Riki Schumacher, a featured artist in today’s Hop – I can definitely see a face shard somewhere in some work inspired by this lovely piece – :

riki

 

To register for Artful Gathering, pay up just five bucks and you’ll get a whole bunch of stuff before and after the classes are announced. But you can play the Hop for free, so hop to it.

And if you can’t wait for May, just fork over a few more bucks for my Artful Gathering DVD’s – more in production, thanks to a long weekend of mystery filming. End of commercial, have a lovely day!

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Small worlds, big talent

I had a blast at summer Art Camp – I taught an online class at Artful Gathering called Small Worlds: Creating Fantastic Landscapes with Altered Pages. The session just ended today and the student work (many are practicing artists) was phenomenal. Some of you have taken this workshop with me at the Studio, and you will especially appreciate these collages. Wowzers!

The majority of these altered papers were created with Citra-Solv cleaner, which I’ve mentioned often. If the idea intrigues you, you can get a good introduction to the process at this link on the Citra-Solv artists’ page. Heck, after seeing all of this good work, I need to schedule another workshop! I’m inspired – and I’m grateful to these fantastic workshop participants who allowed me to share their work.