It’s the little things . . .

This wasn’t the post I intended to write this week. Instead, it’s just a short “thank-you” note – to myself!!

Take a look at this photo. It won’t mean much to anybody but me.

This is the work table in my small studio area off the kitchen. Yesterday evening it looked like this . . . . . .

It had been a loooo-oong day. I finished filming two hours of workshop videos for Painting With Fire, editing and uploading them. I also did some assemblage work in the middle of this mess that was left over from Art Stroll projects.

I wanted to go to bed!! But the Good Angel in my tired old brain said, “clean it up – you won’t be sorry.”  Sigh.

It took about ten sleepy minutes to put stuff away – not a great job, but enough to make me smile when I walked in this morning, coffee in hand, ready to work on a big clay commission. I could actually see the surface of the table!

If there is any message to this, it’s be kind to yourself! Even if you are feeling tired and grumpy, straighten up your mess just as if you were working in somebody else’s studio so you can be ready for the morning.  Put things back where you will find them the next time you look for them. You will thank yourself later.

Oh, and speaking of Painting with Fire, next Wednesday my lesson called Myth and Mist airs. If you are a member of PWF, look for it. I talk about telling stories that are veiled in beeswax and other media using this layered collage encaustic painting as one of the examples. It recounts a myth about crows and dragonflies:

And if you’re not aware of Painting With Fire, it’s never to late to join this amazing year-long encaustic extravaganza! You will even learn how to master encaustic without messing up your studio.

Well. . . . .maybe not that last part . . .

 

 

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.

__________________

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

Wendy’s Nature Spirits

A weather note : I started this post on Monday morning. The post (and normal life) has been interrupted by two days of power outages and snow here in South Texas, and there may be more to come! Yikes!

So, before the power goes out again, I want to warm your heart (and mine) by telling you about Wendy Larsen of Nevada.

Normally, I’m shy about writing my buyers to ask how they are using the faces the purchase from my Etsy shop, Earthshards, but Wendy had ordered quite a few of the Celtic Forge faces and I was curious. I emailed her, and she graciously told me about her Nature Spirits.

Celtic Forge faces from my Etsy Shop, Earthshards

Wendy wrote:

“I use all natural materials, and your faces are beautiful addition to my art. I was going to create my own Etsy shop one but the works weigh a lot as I use petrified wood and agate rose quartz . So that makes them quite heavy to ship, but I do have some in a crystal shop in Lehi Utah that carries my art, and I’ve done quite well there over the past few months. I’m currently doing a few commissioned pieces.

It started when I was at a cactus nursery and saw some Choya wood and decided to use it to create a beautiful piece of art. Little did I know they would be such a success! They are inspired by nature. Everything used on them is natural except for what I used to keep them in place. They they all have an energy that lives within each piece. I use a lot of raw crystals, pine cones, living moss, and natural stones as well as the Choya wood and your beautiful clay faces. I’m typically inspired to do a piece by what the face tells me.

Here is a picture of the first piece I ever did — and it’s history from there – LOL.”

Wendy’s Nature Spirits are packed with intricate detail and precious objects – tiny silver lizards, clusters of crystal. Here are some others. You can see the care and love that she adds to each one.

Thanks so much, Wendy, for sharing your wonderful Nature Spirits with us!

Before I close (and before the power goes off again!), I want to remind you that the Early Bird pricing for Painting with Fire is still open if you want to explore a year of Encaustic techniques and processes by 26 teachers (including me!) for less than $10 a workshop — pretty cool. Or hot.

Click here to visit Essence of Mulranny .

Please stay safe and warm – and take good care,

Lyn

Painting with Fire

The title sounds like something my mother would have warned me against, but it’s actually one of the best things that could happened to an artist/teacher!

I’ve been invited to join a group of the Best Encaustic Teachers in the World (yes, they let me in!!) to participate in a year-long learning experience called Painting with Fire.

Click here to visit Painting with Fire Essence of Mulranny .

Would you like to meet these artists and see what their work looks like? It’s pretty awesome – check out the video.

Painting with Fire Online Workshop A Year of Encaustic from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

The program was founded by Lora Murphy, an encaustic artist who was born in Ireland and has a school there in County Mayo called Essence of Mulranny. Lora sent out an invitation to us, scattered all over the world, and brought us together to teach this Masterclass. And it’s for beginners, too!

My pals Michelle Belto and Clare O’Neill are teaching in Painting with Fire, as well. I’ve learned so much from both of them. And when you sign up, you can take every single class offered by every single teacher over the course of a year, including mine and Michelle’s and Clare’s. Oooh, and Crystal Neubauer and Trish Seggebruch and Shary Bartlett and so many more of my favorite encaustic aritsts are in this, too!

The class that I am teaching is called MYTH AND MIST: Fusing Image and Imagination in Wax. It’s a combination of all the things I love about encaustic – pale translucent layers, mysterious photos and objects, fragrant beeswax – well, take a look for yourself. Here are some details from one of the first pieces I’ve been working on::

I honestly can’t wait to participate in Painting with Fire. Maybe Lora will invite me to Ireland to teach in person next year!!

I almost hesitate to say this, because I feel like I might jinx it, but there’s this new stirring amongst us creative creatures – a cautious optimism that’s reminding us that spring is coming and we can start reaching out again rather than just hanging on in survival mode.

By the way, The Enso Circle is certainly stirring! Michelle Belto and I have had a number of incredible applicants who want to join us in virtual residency. If you didn’t get a chance to read about it, here’s my last post that will explain it. It’s a program for the long-term, and when you are ready to consider it, we will be around! Applications are still open until February 21st, which is a week from this Sunday. Applicants will be notified of acceptance on February 23rd.

I hope to see you at Painting with Fire — it opens today!! Warm your hands with us at the encaustic griddle!

Click here to visit Painting with Fire Essence of Mulranny .

Take good care, trust the process – ♥

Lyn

 

 

The Story of The Enso Circle

Creative work is rarely done by a lone genius. Artists, writers, scientists and other professionals often do their most creative work when collaborating within a circle of like-minded friends. Experimenting together and challenging one another, they develop the courage to rebel against the established traditions in their field. Working alone or in pairs, then meeting as a group to discuss their emerging ideas, they forge a new, shared vision that guides their work. When circles work well, the unusual interactions that occur in them draw out creativity in each of the members.

Michael Farrell, Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics and Creative Work (2001)

After six years of hatching, percolating, and polishing this concept, Michelle Belto and I are (at last) introducing you to The Enso Circle, our Invitational Online Artists’ Residency program. When we previewed the new website to several artist friends, here were their reactions:

  • “I just read your note on the class/residency that you and Michelle will be teaching and just wanted to let you know that this sounds truly amazing. Love both of your artwork and this sounds perfect! I have been creating art for over 50 years so I think it’s time I joined your tribe.” Bosha S.
  • “Brilliant idea. Brava!” Jean D.
  • “What a fabulous idea!!! Love this! This is a BRILLIANT venture!” Christine S.

When we began talking about what has ultimately become The Enso Circle, we wanted to create a structured, collaborative community that we ourselves would want to belong to.

This community would offer a supportive space in which to both expand and focus our present art practice, and to offer us a safe place for sharing ideas with like-minded creatives. It would have a starting time and an ending time, and be long enough to be meaningful but short enough to keep the energy going.

We knew from experience that we both need certain guidelines to make this work for us. Among those are:

  • A time-defined goal to motivate us (an art show submission, an article deadline, a workshop design, a group exhibit)
  • Private time to generate or refine a creative concept
  • A concrete plan to reach our goal with focus but flexibility
  • Group time to get feedback on where we are, where we were, and where we are going with our project
  • A collection of resources, always available, that can give us both technical and aesthetic advice and answers
  • Input from mentors outside the community who have expertise and objectivity
  • Small-group opportunities to brainstorm and problem solve the small steps in the process that sometimes get us stuck

Why did we name our community The Enso Circle? Because the Enso is a manifestation of the artist at the moment of creation and the acceptance of our innermost self. It symbolizes strength, elegance, and one-mindedness.

The very imperfections and hand-created contours are exactly what makes the Enso beautiful.

If you want to cut to the chase and learn more right this moment, just click here.

(And here’s what I know that you’re wondering up front . . .the program costs $325, it’s 12-weeks long, only 12 people can be accepted, and yes, it’s absolutely worth it)

But there’s more, and it’s important – and unusual – read on:

The Enso Circle is based on the idea of an Artist’s Residency – a twelve-week commitment that results in a personal body of work, large or small, conceived and completed through goals that you set with the support of the community throughout the process. You do need to apply and have a goal in mind, although that can change over the course of the term.

The Enso Circle is a unique experience for several reasons.

  • It has all the advantages of an in-depth workshop: resources, technique videos, handouts and printables.
  • Like an academic residency, it allows you to select your individual goal and work toward it with peer and mentor support.
  • It has the power of a critique group through frequent informal Zoom meetings and discussions in our private Slack space.
  • It is led by nationally known teacher/artists Michelle Belto and Lyn Belisle, who will model the process by working toward their own goals right along with you during the three-month program.
  • And it culminates in an online exhibition.
  • Lyn and Michelle plan to offer three twelve-week Residency terms throughout the year. The first one will start on March 2nd, 2021.

Here’s an up-close and personal invitation from both of us, via our Zoom recording. Just click on the video image.

VIMEO LINK

We hope you choose to apply to be one of the first twelve residents of The Enso Circle!

HERE’S THE LINK TO THE ENSO CIRCLE CLASSROOM./RESIDENCY WEBSITE WITH ALL THE INFORMATION AND THE APPLICATION FORM FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Thanks for reading – you’ll know if it’s right for you, and if it’s not, thanks for learning about our Enso Circle story!

Take good care,

Lyn

Susie King Taylor – Inspiring Discovery, Remarkable Woman

Upcoming Black History Month is the perfect time to share what I have learned about a remarkable woman named Susie King Taylor.

Several months ago, I was looking thrugh old photos in the archives of the Library of Congress and saw this one. Sometimes, images reach out like a compelling force, and this was one of them. What a presence!

After I learned that her name was Susie King Taylor, I started researching her remarkable life, then used her image to inspire an artwork.

Born into slavery in Georgia in 1848, Susie King Taylor (born Susan Baker) lived on a plantation for the first seven years of her life. In 1855, Susie was allowed to go live with her free grandmother in Savannah. Despite Georgia’s harsh laws prohibiting formal education for African Americans, Susie attended two secret schools taught by black women and was tutored by two white youths.

In April 1862, Susie was able to escape slavery with her uncle and other African Americans who fled to a federal gunboat near Confederate-held Fort Pulaski. She went to live on Union-occupied St. Simons Island off the southern Georgia coast along with hundreds of other formerly enslaved refugees. There, at only 14 years old, Susie became the first black teacher to openly educate African Americans in Georgia.

That same year Susie married Edward King, a black officer in the 33rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment, and began serving as a nurse and laundress for his regiment. Off hours she taught the soldiers reading and writing and, according to her memoirs, “…learned to handle a musket very well…and could shoot straight and often hit the target.”

Susie served as a nurse at a hospital for African American soldiers in Beaumont, South Carolina, where she met and worked with Clara Barton. For four years and three months, she served the Union military without pay. Susie and Edward remained with the 33rd Regiment until they were mustered out at the end of the war. (Source)

Susie King Taylor’s autobiographic book, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp, was written in 1906 and is still in publication. I ordered her book and  was transported by her wisdom and graciousness. She is a skilled and objective writer.

I was compelled to use her striking mage in an encaustic mixed-media collage, which was recently included in an article in the Winter 2020 issue of Encaustic Arts magazine.

In the article, I wrote, “In one of my latest pieces, the subject is a striking African American woman. As usual, I knew nothing about her until her photograph almost leaped out at me from the screen as I was looking through Library of Congress for inspiration.  She was identified in the photograph as Susie King Taylor, and through research I learned that she was the first Black Army nurse. During the Civil War, she tended to the all-Black 33rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment. In my encaustic collage titled Susie, I included gauze and horsehair as material symbols of her life in the regiment.”

You can see the gauze and horsehair embedded in the beeswax layers in this detail. I used colors of indigo and sepia as the primary palette:

As always, photos and stories from the past continue to inspire and fascinate me as inspirations for my work. Susie’s story was one of the best discoveries I’ve made.

If you’d like to learn more about her, please watch this brief video about the life of Susie King Taylor, produced by the Georgia Women of Achievement when she was inducted in 2018. You’ll be glad you did.

See you next time, and 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

 

 

 

 

 

Want to explore encaustic portraits? Use your phone to email photos to yourself!

Another enthusiastic workshop group met at my studio on Wednesday afternoon to explore collage, composition, and beeswax. Thanks to Marcia Roberts for organizing this great gathering. They were fantastic.

It’s my custom at the beginning of the workshop to give everyone a large packet of images that have been printed on regular letter paper with an inkjet printer. This insures that the paper is absorbent and will be “beeswax friendly.” I ask everyone to choose only from these images for their first collage.

This gives everyone choices within the same range of images, and it’s amazing to see how different each resulting artwork is. Here are a few of the images being arranged and veiled with white paint and asemic writing.

Then I showed them a tip that I want to share with you as well – how to use your own photos in an encaustic collage. I took a photo of Veronica while she was working at the table, then emailed it to myself from my phone. Here she is – great smile, right?

I went right to my studio computer, opened the email and the attachment, and showed everyone how to print out the photo in sepia tone. Then I adhered it to my demo collage and added some graphic elements such as veiling, asemic writing and stamps.

I continued the demo and showed how to apply a layer of beeswax, to incise, and to add pan pastels and book foil to the composition. It was fun playing with a photo of someone who was actually in the workshop, and Veronica got a collage portrait to take home!

I encourage you to take photos with your phone and email them to yourselves to print out and use in your work. It doesn’t even have to be a person – think orchids, cats, and spider webs!

Everyone in Wednesday’s workshop was really inspired – here are some of their encaustic collages. They paid attention to the composition lesson, and even though some of the packet images were similar, the results are beautifully original.

Veronica Miller

Maggie Fitch

Maggi Peachy

Catherine Danner

Marcia Roberts

I think these encaustic collage workshop are so useful and popular because the lessons on composition and layering can be used in any medium, from acrylic painting to fiber to journaling. And using your own phone photos gives a personal touch that makes this kind of art practice a unique statement of who you are.

Thanks for reading SHARDS!