Blessings from Bri – prayer flag inspirations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥Lyn

A cat gallery and a surprise workshop

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Look at these faces! And the bodies!

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

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

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And now — the SURPRISE WORKSHOP!!!

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

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

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

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

 

 

The pie is out of the oven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take good care,

Lyn

From frustration to fruition, blobs and all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A couple of notes:

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

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

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

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

Imaginary friends, bossy inspirations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take good care,

Lyn

 

What do you have to say for youself??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the link to the complete interview

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

♥Lyn

 

 

 

Pretty Paper Pendant Pockets

In the spirit of keeping calm, carrying on, and surviving all this together, I’ve created a new online workshop for you. It’s called Pretty Paper Pendant Pockets, and if you enjoyed the Lotus Book class, you’ll love this one.

And, yes, it’s free. This is another mixed-media/paper project from me to you that makes a beautiful gift for friends.

PS – there’s a bonus lesson on aromatherapy and creativity!

Here’s where to enroll

And here are more pictures –

Please be safe, and have a happy, creative weekend!

♥Lyn

 

Here’s to YOU, Old Chap . . .

Sorry about the corny title, but I wanted to share a little tutorial with you about how to make a chapbook journal.

Chapbooks by Lyn

I made the video for my friend Alexandria van de Kamp, Executive Director of Gemini Ink, San Antonio’s Literary Arts Center. She loved it and thought it might be a fun project for poets and writers. I thought that most artists could always use another small journal, too.

This one requires nothing more than 20 minutes and uses materials that you have already: paper, string, scissors, a glue stick, magazines or other collage stuff.

Here’s how to do it, Old Chap:

Video Link

And if you missed it on Facebook, here’s another helpful video (OK, so it’s a commercial for my eBook, Wax & Words) that will give you some composition tips that you can use on the cover of your chapbook.

Video Link

As I say in the chapbook tutorial, these little journals are so easy to make for yourself and for friends. Make several and record your cheery thoughts about quarantine, plague. . . . .oh, wait, never mind. We are artists! We create joy!

HERE ARE SOME QUOTES TO INSPIRE YOUR CHAPBOOK MUSINGS:

  • “Because most artists are ‘sensitive’ in every sense of the word, if you don’t take charge, negative emotion can ruin you.” (Gaye Adams)
  • “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” (Winston Churchill)
  • “When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” (Sam Lefkowitz)

Stay safe, everyone – hope to see you soon! And dare I say, “May the Fourth be with you” ? ♥♥♥

Small Comforts

Don’t know abut you, but I have felt pretty disheartened and non-productive during the last two weeks. I look at all of those articles and posts about what to do when you’re at home, and yet, somehow, my energy has shifted to hibernate mode (“Wahhhh . .just leave me alone!”). But knowing in my heart that it’s important to keep busy and creative, I started cleaning out my studio shelves. That’s always a recipe for inspiration.

I found lots of duplicates of things I thought I’d lost, and then bought more of – right? Every happen to you? Case in point – a bunch of bar magnets. I must have three dozen of these guys!

Why? Back in 2014, I taught an online class with Artful Gathering that featured little clip-on art-to-wear pieces that also function as displayed artwork. These pieces were one-of-a kind mixed media collages designed with a super-heavy-duty bar magnet on the back so they can also be displayed in a frame. I called them “Magnetic Adornments”.

Here are some examples from an old class worksheet:

Those re-discovered magnets were the kick-start for me, and I decided to play with that project again. I needed something small to work with, something that I could use as art therapy, something that was fun and had no real rules.

The base of the little collage is archival matboard. You choose a focal piece and just start building a miniature assemblage. I used my clay faces, but you could use an old piece of jewelry, a shell – whatever!

Once the magnet is glued on the back, you can wear the assemblage on a scarf or a hatband. You can also clip them into a frame by putting the back piece of the magnet on the back of the frame. Here’s one that I just finished:

A few more of the “Magnet Adornments” I’ve put together the past couple of days:

Here’s that last piece taken out of its fame and clipped onto a scarf:

Small magnetic assemblage clipped on a linen scarf

OK, that’s it for today. I may go hibernate for a bit – I hope you’re well, staying inside and still staying in touch with friends in whatever way is best for you. I’ve been Zooming a lot with my family. Who even knew what that meant last year??

Please find some small comforts to work on today in your own creative space. It really is good for you. Better than Cheetos. Maybe.

 

 

 

 

Another gift of artistic diversion for you – Collage on Canvas

There’s a helplessness in knowing this situation going to get worse before it gets better. My thoughts are with all of you as we circle the wagons and wait.

Just for inspiration, I’m giving you another little downloadable book about one of my most popular workshops called Creating a Dimensional Collage on Canvas.  It’s an illustrated step-by-step guide to composing a personal art collage that includes three-dimensional objects as well as images and textures.

It’s available for purchase as a Kindle book, but I’m giving you the PDF version which you can easily download and explore for free. You’ll find the access link a bit further down.

Here’s a full version of the collage example on the cover, along with another example using the one of the same faces with a different approach and emphasis.

You can see that there are all kinds of little items connected to the canvas that add symbolic and textural complexity to the compositions.

I hope you try it – it’s really fun, especially if you have some meaningful photos that you can print out.

CLICK BELOW ON THE DOWNLOAD LINK FOR THE BOOK (the file is compressed so it won’t be too big for you to get it to your computer)

Collage on Canvas – Lyn Belisle_compressed

NOTE: This project was especially designed for the wonderful women of the Gaian Soul Retreat at Aldermarsh on Whidbey Island led by my beloved friend Joanna Colbert Powell in 2015. “Creating a Dimensional Collage on Canvas” unites the visual, the spiritual, and the joyful aspects of the creative process. You may substitute your own “ingredients” from the Materials List on page three in the book.

Even if you don’t decide to do the project itself, it may give you some ideas for digging through family photos in this unexpectedly quiet time. You can also take inventory of your own collage materials. Inevitably, this always leads me to new ideas and happy distractions.

If you want to see the project in action, this video shows one of my first Collage on Canvas workshops, which was held in 2012 at my kitchen table even before I had my big studio on Nacogdoches Road.

I think you’ll especially like the personal photographs that the participants used with many different materials and techniques.

 

Know that I miss seeing you all, but one of the lessons we are learning through all of this is that it is a luxury to be with friends in person at a gathering of like minds – I hope I never take it for granted again! Stay safe in your creative confinement 🙂