Working (and RE-working) in a series – five tips!

I lied.

The last time I posted, I said that the Artful Gathering “Southwest Stripe” project using the four elements as inspiration was “totally foolproof”. Actually, nothing is. In this little clip from one of the workshop videos, you can see that sometimes you have to rethink and redo.

Sneak Preview from the Four-Hour Class, Southwestern Stripes: Serapes & Sunsets from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

The point here is that you start to think outside the box about what works and what doesn’t. It’s all about context. Everything you create has merit, truly. You may not think it is successful because it doesn’t do what you wanted it to, but remember to trust the process. Every one of your creations is worthy in itself, even if’s not right for the moment. Perhaps it works as a learning experiment, or perhaps it’s a step to something even better that you intended.

In the video above, you saw that piece that was a “failure” as part of the Four Elements  series, but look what happened later in the video when I took the scissors to it, boldly sliced it into three strips, then collaged the strips over another background that I had put in the “to-be-reworked” pile:

Lyn Belisle, “Three Sisters” 5×7″ Mixed Media Collage

“Three Sisters” (detail)

I titled it “Three Sisters” and I love it as a stand-alone mixed media collage! I turned the strips upside down and changed the order – voila!

SO . . . . . .Here are FIVE TIPS that might help you re-imagine something you’re working on that just isn’t working:

1. Hold the work up to a mirror. This give you a whole new perspective on the composition and may suggest a clue for a new direction.

2. Take a photo of the work with your phone. This visual reduction minimizes the details you’ve been fussing over. Email the photo to yourself and play with it online with PicMonkey or another free photo-editing site.

3.  Take a mat that is smaller than your artwork and move it around on the surface until you find a great spot that really works – crop that section out. Save the rest for your “to be reworked” pile.

4. Put a piece of tissue paper or tracing paper over your work. Does it look better? If so, figure out why and what to do about it. You may want to just collage the tracing paper over the whole thing to soften it, or you may want to paint a translucent glaze on top.

5. Get out the scissors! Don’t be afraid to cut up the work into sections like I did with “Three Sisters”. But fold it first to see if you’re really going to like the sections before you actually do the deed.

Remember, everything you do is worthy because YOU created it and it brought it into existence. You certainly don’t have to save everything, but give “pieces” a chance!

Oh, yeah – and the Southwestern Stripes class is open if you want to join us in the workshop 🙂

 

 

Holiday freebie for you – faux turquoise technique tutorial!

I may not have time to give workshops right now (the next one will be in January), but I can still teach you a few things! Here’s a lesson freebie – a cool Faux-Turquoise technique.

While working on a commissioned assemblage, I realized how often I use the painted faux-turquoise finish that I developed several years ago. It works on almost all my mixed-media surfaces – clay, paper, cradle board, canvas.

Here’s your step-by-step tutorial on how I do this finish. Feel free to change it up and experiment with your own variations. There’s no secret here, just simple materials and techniques that give good results in an uncomplicated way. It’s super fun, too.

Step One: Assemble Materials

Rarely do I specify specific brands, but in this case, these three acrylic paints work best in combination of all the ones I’ve tried for this particular technique.

You will also need a wide-ish flat brush (about 1″), a graphite pencil, a terrycloth washrag or studio rag, a white colored pencil (optional), and something to paint on. For this demonstration, I chose  4×6″ piece of archival mat board. You’ll need a water container to clean your brush, too.

You don’t need a lot of complicated materials for this

Step Two: Make you mark

I often have my workshop participants open up to their work by doing some scribbling on the substrate – you can always gesso over it, but it keeps them from being intimidated by a white surface. If they don’t know what to scribble, I ask them to scribble what they had for breakfast! In the demo below, I just did some random markmaking with a graphite pencil. It added a bit of subtle texture to the surface, too.

Make the space yours by claiming it with markmaking

Step Three: Slap on the base coat

Paint right over those marks you made with a coat of Aqua Green acrylic, being generous. Use random strokes, x-strokes in every direction. You don’t want to leave thick texture, but yo do want some slightly raised areas.

A nice coat of aqua green painted randomly on the matboard

Step Four: More marks

Let this coat sit until it is sticky but not dry, then go back in with your graphite pencil and make more light marks on the surface.

Step Five: Lighten it up

Add some of the Matte White acrylic to the Aqua Green to make a paler tint of turquoise. Brush it randomly over about one-third of the surface. Play with the proportions.

Matte White with a bit of Aqua Green

Step Six: Press and Lift

While the lighter tint is still wet, Press your terrycloth rag straight down onto the surface to lift some of the lighter tint in areas. This leaves very stone-like patches of light and dark.

Press the cloth straight down, then lift.

Step Seven: Adding the Azo Gold

Take your bottle of Quinacridone Nickle Azo Gold and drop several blobs of paint on the surface. It will look very dark and slightly gross, but don’t worry – Quin Gold is extremely transparent and will make a lovely glaze in the next step.

Blobs of Quin Gold dropped on the surface

Step Eight: Blob-dabbing

Using the same terrycloth rag (which will never be the same again), dab the blobs firmly to spread them and create texture.

Dabbed-out blobs of Quin Gold

Step Nine: Light blending and marking

Continue to add light marks, and do a bit of blending with the rag, but use a light touch.

More scratches and marks

Step Ten: Finish with dry-brushing

To veil and push back all of the color variations and textures, dry-brush a final coat of aqua green over the surface. You can see here that the right half has been dry-brushed and the left half has not yet been brushed. If you build up this layer slowly, you can control what is revealed and what is concealed. “Dry-brushing” means just that – adding a little bit of paint to a dry brush and stroke it lightly over the surface. After this step, let the whole thing dry. And go wash your brush!

Final dry-brush coat

Step Eleven: Tah-Dah!

You can see in the close-up how the painted finished mimics the real stuff in texture and color. As I said, this surface is archival mat board, but you can try this technique on anything acrylic paint works with.

I can see it on a mirror frame, for example, with copper nailheads all around it, or perhaps covering the top of a wooden box. Or how about a turquoise ornament for a Christmas tree, Southwestern style?

Here are a couple more photos of the faux-turquoise mat board cut up into smaller sections, and also a small adornment with copper tape for a collage or pin.

collage adornment

Cut sections of faux-turquoise matboard for mixed media

I hope you enjoy this technique. If you try it, let me know how you use it!

And thanks, as always, for reading SHARDS!

 

 

 

Assemblage assembly tricks – and a place to get inspired

Stick with me, Kid – I’m been furiously creating assemblages for the last month for Marta Stafford’s First Friday opening in Marble Falls – be there!

“Assemblages” by definition mean you have to stick stuff together, and I’ve learned more about attaching stuff to other stuff than I ever thought possible. Here’s a quick look at some adhesives and glues and how I use them.

GLUE STICKS:

I use these to tack layers of lightweight material to each other before attaching them to more permanent surfaces. In this photo, you can see that the layers of amate paper are stuck together to keep them from shifting. I’ll go over the surface with beeswax soon, but right now a glue stick is perfect to keep them from shifting. I like Scotch Permanent glue sticks, BTW.

E6000:

If you have two different materials, such as clay and wood (below) and can weight the pieces for several hours, E6000 is a great solution. The self-leveling formula forms a powerful bond with most any material and will remain flexible once cured. You just have to be patient (which sometimes doesn’t work for me).

HOT GLUE GUN:

This is the method I most often use in my workshops because you get an instant bond. You can work quickly and It is the most versatile adhesive you will find. I have had some pieces come loose after a few years, so I discovered a trick that I’ll share.

When you are ready to hot glue two objects together, such as a clay face to a piece of archival matboard, put a small dab of E6000 on the substrate and then hot glue the objects together right over the E6000. The hot glue will bond immediately, and the E6000 will cure gradually and provide a stronger bond. And you get instant gratification.

2P10:

I have to thank my contractor for this tip – he told me about this stuff. Man, 2P10 is scary strong and scary fast! The piece below got its designed changed because I made a crooked bond, but it turned out great – happy accident.

You have to be absolutely ready to make the attachment and work quickly. I would advise you to practice with some scrap pieces before using the two-part system. Follow the cautions. But if you want to glue a Volkswagen to a tree, this is the stuff for you!

This piece has metal glued to paper glued to clay glued to wood glued to canvas – etc – but 2P10 works on almost all surfaces. Use with care.

Hope some of this helps you with your own assemblages.

BUT WAIT!! If you want to see some of the most beautiful assemblages in the universe, go to the Bijou Theater tonight at 6:00 for Celebration Circle’s Altar show!!

ONE PEOPLE, MANY PATHS: The Sacred Art of Altars 14th Annual Exhibit & Silent Auction is a must-see!

Tickets are just $15 and are available at this link.

Here’s a list of participating artists, and you can bet you’ll be inspired to get out there and glue stuff to other stuff after you’ve seen this spiritual altar assemblage exhibit!

Maria Alvarado, Zet Baer, Lyn Belisle, CeeJay Black, Bill Bonham, Pam Bryant, Susan Calkins, Sofia Dabalsa, Susan Damon, Steve Daniel, Lynn Denzer, Sandy Dunn, Jane Dunnewold, Dani Ferguson, Sarah Ford, Betty Franklin, Karl Franklin, Joan Frederick, David Anthony Garcia, Skip Gerson, Suzy Gonzalez, Martha Grant, Rudi Harst, James Hendricks, Jon Hinojosa, Dawn Horten, Jagwired Art, Julie Jarvis, Joy Jimenez, Stefani Job Spears, Amy Jones, Deborah Keller-Rihn, Mark Kohnitz, Kevin Lewis, Fontaine Maverick, Marcia Rae McCulley, Jeff McDaniel, Beverly Meyer, Kathy Miner, Jose Mojica, Susie Monday, Alexandra Nelipa, Ray Palmer, Cindy Palmer, Junanne Peck, Cynthia Phelps, Kathleen Pittman, Theresa Powers, Tomas Ramirez, Thom Ricks, Patsy Sasek, Ron Schumacher, Bill Simons, Chuck Squier, Jodi Stauffer, Melanie Strybos, Pamela Taylor, Dean Valibhai.

 

 

 

 

 

Tissue fun – consider the candle possibilities!

So I was creating some designs on tissue paper to use for an encaustic collage when I came across a YouTube video about tissue and candles. Kinda cool!

Take a look at what I played with. And then you can search You Tube for tissue-candle video demos if you’re interested.

Ordinary plain white candle – cheap

Design printed out on regular tissue paper which has been taped to a carrier sheet

Tear or cut tissue to fit candle, wrap around

Wrap something around tissue and candle to hold in place – I used tulle, but parchment paper would probably be better

Hold tight to keep tissue flat

Use a hair dryer or hear gun to fuse tissue to candle – it gets hot so you might want to cover your hand with a towel –

Voila – a custom candle design!

Think of the possibilities – you could make a design of yourself as a saint and create a very original votive candle! You could write something personal on a friend’s photo and print it out on tissue to make a one-of-a-kind gift candle! Zowee.

I liked this crafty little project – it provided a nice distraction to what I’m supposed to be doing, which is getting ready for the Beacon Hill Art Walk in Boston in just – GULP – two weeks! Yikes!! Back to the studio.

Hot off the virtual press – the Talisman workshop eBook

Happy May Day! I wanted to get this eBook up and available by May 1, and — tah dah — it’s ready! This is my first “workshop” eBook, and, hopefully, it has the feel of being right there in my studio with me.

Beeswax, Clay, Paper & Fiber Talismans is an interactive PDF eBook that you download instantly from my Etsy shop. There are eight videos, including two on making the waxed paper beads, along with a whole bunch of instructions and resources.

As you read along, you can click on the video link and watch it, then return to the page. It’s a pretty cool format. If you’ve ever downloaded instructional mixed media eBooks like 21 Secrets, it’s the same idea. The book belongs to you to read and watch as many times as you want to.

Here’s a look at the table of contents – the pages are hyperlinked to each section and each video.

This Talisman workshop is based on the one I did in Washington State with Joanna Powell Colbert, described here in an earlier post. I talk about that here in the intro to the workshop from Page 8 in the Talisman eBook.

Introduction to the Talisman eBook from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.


When you buy the eBook, you also get a discount on two talisman faces from my Etsy shop. But you don’t need these specific faces to make the Talisman – it’s just an option. I have never believed that you should have to have a specific brand or proprietary item to create a successful art project.

Workshops are a two-way communication, and if you get the Talisman eBook I will be here to answer any follow-up questions or take any suggestion that you think would make this book better. Just send an email to lyn@lynbelisle.com. If I use your suggestion in a revision, I’ll credit you in the acknowledgments and send you the newly revised version for free. The nice thing about interactive eBooks is that they are easily edited.

You can get the Talisman eBook from my website, where you can also find the Encaustic eBook and all of my instructional DVDs, or you can go directly to my Etsy shop to purchase it. The book with videos is $18 and if you want two of the faces as well, they are only $7 for two with the purchase of the book. Such a deal 🙂

This has been a fun project – and it has helped me get more organized! Thanks for all of the encouragement on this. And it sure is nice to be back in Texas on such a beautiful day! Vacations are fun, but there’s no place like home.

 

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Big problem, but I got it covered . . .

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My nifty new ultra-cheap ultra-cool floor covering in the studio workshop room

So when I moved into the new Studio, two of the rooms had wood-grain floors that I was really afraid of messing up with paint and glue and art stuff. I tried a drop cloth, but kept tripping over it and saying bad words. I tried plastic sheets, and that was worse. Think Attack of the Saran Wrap Monster.

In desperation, I went to Home Depot and asked a nice guy named Dave what might work. He showed me this fantastic indoor/outdoor carpet that is a perfect solution!

I’m sharing this with you guys in case you need something cheap and durable for your workroom floor. It’s called Elevations Indoor/Outdoor carpeting, and it comes in 12″ and 6″ widths. They cut it for you with a giant machine to whatever length you want. I got enough to completely cover two big rooms for less than $100. I kid you not.  Cheaper than canvas drop cloths.

This is where I taped a seam together with clear packing tape - works great.

This is where I taped a seam together with clear packing tape – works great.

The sheets of carpet lie flat and are light enough that I could lay them down by myself – I moved half of the furniture to one side of the room, lined the carpet up and rolled it out part-way, moved the furniture back on that half, then – well, you get the picture. No glue, no tape – when you move out, you just roll it up!

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You can see how nicely the edge of the carpet meets the door – it’s not glued down and it still lies flat.

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It has a tightly-woven grain – not bad looking at all!

 This carpeting comes in four colors – I picked “Stone Beige”, of course – Neutrals ‘R’ Me – but they also had a pretty blue, a grassy green, and a nice gray. It’s worth the purchase just to see them cut the stuff with the 20′ long cutting machine. Rowwrr.

And that’s your Studio Tip for the Day, kids – by the way, don’t you just love the way Home Depot smells when you walk in? It makes you feel all strong, like you really want to buy a chain saw or a flat of Sheetrock. Yeah!!

Elevations at Home Depot – great for art studio floors – yay. Hmmm, wonder if they’ll give me a discount for this free advertising  . . .?

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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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Pale and painterly papers

A collection of pale papers by Lyn and Lesta

A collection of pale papers by Lyn and Lesta

Lesta Frank and I are teaching a workshop this month called Whiter Shades of Pale. Recently we got together at my studio to play with surface design of all kinds and create papers that have subtle painterly textures and intriguing variations of the palest tints.

The workshop has been sold out for a while, but I thought you might like to see some of the results from our pre-workshop experiments.

The first idea, below, is so simple – you just do a reverse stamp onto tan kraft paper (like a shopping bag) using a white stamp pad or white acrylic paint soaked into a damp piece of felt. Another variation we did was to roll white acrylic paint onto a textured placemat and print the design onto the tan paper.

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Below, tissue paper has been painted with clear acrylic matte medium, which causes the paper to wrinkle a bit, and then it was sprayed with walnut ink. It’s almost like tinted glass!

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This is one of my favorites. Lesta stenciled white acrylic paint onto deli paper using a small paint roller, and after it was dry, soaked it briefly in strong coffee to “age” it.

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This is an easy “cheater-ly” way (below) to make multiples of subtle designs for ready-made custom collage paper. We just lay various pale papers on a scanner, scanned them in to the computer, and then printed out 8.5″x11″ composite-designed papers. Lesta tinted the face on the example below with Portfolio oil pastels.

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Cheesecloth can be used in so many ways to add interest to collages with pale papers. You can Gesso it and let is dry, then cut it into fragments. You can use Gold Gesso as well. You can also add it as a layer over textures, then paint over it with light tints of acrylic paint.

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Finally, don’t forget that you can lighten images with your printer using MS Word – here’s a Renaissance face with its contrast decreased, printed on a plain piece of inkjet paper and mounted to matboard. I punched holes and will attach this to a collage as one of the final layers – hmm, and maybe cover it partially with tissue?

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If you want to play around with pale papers, here are some materials you might want to try.

I hope you have a chance to use some of these ideas – you can make just a few pale papers and collage little 3×5″ creations for cards. Or whatever – pale is pretty!

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Tissue techniques and encaustic exploration

15We had a full house for yesterday’s Wax and Tissue workshop. Everyone was particularly interested in how to print images on delicate tissue paper. If you do an Internet search, you’ll find all kinds of methods to do this.

Most of the methods involve taping or tacking the tissue on all four sides to a sheet of regular copy paper. I just cut the paper slightly smaller than the copy paper, put two pieces of clear tape at the top, and run that sucker through the printer. So far, so good – I printed about 25 sheets for the workshop and had only two of them crunch up in the printer. Not bad odds considering how thin tissue paper is.

In my example below, you can see how the bird image, printed on tissue paper, becomes translucent when wax is applied over it. It’s always interesting to see how unpredictable the translucent images appear when wax is applied over them. Different kinds of tissue yield different results. I use just plain old wrapping tissue and I iron it first to get the creases out. Works like a charm.

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Lyn Belisle, demonstration piece done during wax and tissue workshop

You can see in my demo piece, above, that the bird image, which was printed on plain white tissue, has a translucency that conceals and reveals elements of the collage above and below it. In the workshop, we started with two opaque “anchor” images and then added layers of wax and tissue to build up our narratives. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience – everyone was experimenting and developing the best stories as the process evolved. Here’s the video – what do you think? Pretty cool, right?

If you’d like to see what the supply list looks like, you can go to Roses on my Table, a site developed by the fantastic Zinnia from Artful Gathering. Michelle Belto and I have an online class there on Wax and Tissue, but you don’t have to register for the class to get the supply list. You can just click on the Material and Supply List link to see both sources and “ingredients” for this project.

Encaustic Month at Lyn Belisle Studio ended on a high note! And mark your calendar for next Saturday’s Show and Tell from 2-4 pm. Happy Monday!

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Waxy weekend, comfortable camaraderie

Saturday and Sunday I taught two encaustic workshops at the Studio – both were what’s become the signature class called “Behind the Veil.” We work with vintage photos, learn about the AB3s of composition, and create lovely little mixed media stories that have depth and mystery.

On both days, everyone was relaxed, happy and spectacularly creative. I thoroughly enjoyed the company! The video shows happy smiles and super-nice work.

If you weren’t able to be there with us but would like to try this, I’m giving you a couple of handouts that we used in the workshop. Both are from my eBook called “Behind the Veil.”

Page Four has a list of materials that you’ll need to do this project along with some great tips on image sources, and Page Five shows you how to set up your workspace and gives you wax and safety info. Help yourself to these, and if you’d like to download the whole eBook, you can get it here.

Happy Monday!