The heart of friendship


Carol Mylar and me in Colorado Springs

When I had a studio on Queen Anne Street back in the 90s, Carol Mylar was my studio partner. We have been the best of friends ever since, and when she moved back home to Colorado Springs fifteen years ago, part of my heart went with her. But we stay in close touch, visit in person as often as we can, and enjoy that special ESP that good friends develop. However, she was able to fool me recently in the nicest way!

“Tiny Dancer”, Lyn Belisle, assemblage 2017, original version

She had sent good luck wishes to me when my work was shown at Marta Stafford’s gallery last month. Little did I know that she and Marta had been in secret negotiation about one of the pieces called “Tiny Dancer”. Carol purchased it without telling me because she wanted to surprise me by sending me a picture of it on the wall in her Colorado Springs home.

“Tiny Dancer”, Lyn Belisle, assemblage 2017, heartless version

The sale was arranged, but when “Tiny Dancer” arrived in Colorado, she had no heart – it had fallen off and gotten lost somewhere. Carol emailed Marta at the gallery, and Marta then casually asked me if I had another little heart  –  the buyer, “Sue Smith,” said it had been lost and wanted a replacement. Fortunately, I had one heart left from in my collection of very old Mexican clay beads.

I thought it was weird that Marta asked me to send it to her rather than the buyer, but I sent the little heart to Marta in Marble Falls, and she secretly send it along to Carol.

The next week, I had a text from Carol with a photo of “Tiny Dancer” taken on the wall at her house – boy, was I surprised – I had no idea how it got there, especially since I thought somebody named “Sue Smith” from Albuquerque bought it.  When I read Carol’s message, I finally got it  – she wrote, “She lost her heart, but now it’s found. Every detail has a story. She’s beautiful!” I was so thrilled to see my work on my dear friend’s wall.

“Tiny Dancer,” happily living with Carol in Colorado

There’s a metaphor here about friends, about love and distance, about losing and finding one’s heartanyway, the story made me smile – thanks, Marta, for your part in the caper, and thanks, Carol for giving a good home to this little assemblage with the paint-brush leg and newly recovered heart! ♥♥♥

 

 

Nectar and Ambrosia

Part of the fun of Thanksgiving is remembering all the food that we liked as kids, the stuff that came out only at holidays. I loved to watch my mother make “Ambrosia,” which is a Southern tradition. According to Alabama Chanin, “Ambrosia began appearing in cookbooks in the late 1800s when citrus fruit became more prevalent in markets across the country. These early recipes were very simple, usually including only orange slices, coconut, and sugar layered in a glass dish.”

Mother would spend a long time peeling, de-seeding, and sectioning orange segments, which made the kitchen smell wonderful. It was labor-intensive, for sure. She added coconut and pecans and Maraschino cherries. A bonus for me was getting to sip the juice from the Maraschino cherries after she had drained them – turns your tongue red and gives you a major sugar rush.

I’m making a shortcut version of Ambrosia this year, and so far, it looks pretty good. I have all of the fruit ready and will add the rest of the ingredients, including the coconut,  tomorrow morning. It’s pretty already!

Shortcut Ambrosia in progress – trust the process!

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try – and if you can get to the grocery store today without losing your sanity.

Ingredients:

1 (8 oz.) tub of whipped topping, thawed
1 cup sour cream
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple tidbits, drained well
1 (15 oz.) can mandarin orange segments, drained well
1 cup red or green seedless grapes, sliced in half
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 (10 oz.) jar of maraschino cherry halves, drained very well (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Then you just mix the whipped topping (think Cool Whip), the coconut, sour cream and marshmallows together and fold it in with the fruit. It’s neither huate cuisine or health food, but hey – it’s a Thanksgiving tradition!

The “nectar” part of this post is Almond Tea, which showed up at a lot of Southern holiday parties. It’s a gusssied-up version of Sweet Tea, and it’s non-alcoholic so kids can have some.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons instant iced tea powder
1 cup white sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 (12 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract

Directions
In a 1 gallon container, mix together the instant tea powder and sugar. Pour in the boiling water and lemonade concentrate, and mix well. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Fill container the rest of the way with cold water. Stir and serve over ice, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Actually, you can just add a little almond extract to regular iced tea and it tastes great, different and kind of exotic.

I mentioned the Alabama Chanin Journal earlier – if you want an imaginative, feel-good source of information and inspiration, check out Alabama’s site and read about her beautiful and sustainable food, clothing and other makings. Slow Cloth founder Elaine Lipson introduced me to this journal. It’s a favorite.

Finally, if you’re still in an “easy recipe” mood, take this link to my favorite Cranberry Jalapeno Relish that I published here in 2014.

I am so grateful to all of you for being SHARDS readers – Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Celebrating arts diversity – clay, glass, fiber

Vincent van Gogh wrote, “I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”

Good artists keep refining and redefining their medium, pushing boundaries and asking questions of themselves and their fellow artists. The San Antonio arts community has this kind of commitment – deep roots and diversity that would make any city proud. And they share and collaborate.

This evening, the San Antonio Potters Guild and the San Antonio Glass Art Guild are joining together to meet at the San Antonio Art League, viewing and discussing the work of sculptor and painter James Hendricks. And later in the fall, the Fiber Artists of San Antonio will tour the Art League Museum. I love this city and its multi-talented artists!

Speaking of the Fiber Artists, I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Friday’s opening of the 43rd Juried FASA Exhibit. The photos of the work are amazing.

Here’s a short video of some of the work you will see at Friday’s opening:

Fiber Artists of San Antonio: Preview of 43rd Juried Exhibition from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

And here’s the exhibit info – the juror, nationally know fiber artist Doshi, has done a remarkable job in her selective process:

  • FASA 43rd Annual Juried Fiber Art Exhibit
  • Opening Reception: Fri., Oct. 13, 2017, 6-8 p.m.
  • Exhibit on display: Fri., Oct. 13 – Fri. Nov. 17, 2017
  • Semmes Gallery, University of Incarnate Word, 4301 Broadway St.
    San Antonio, TX 78209

Doshi is not only a discerning juror and curator, but a fantastic fiber artist herself. While she is in San Antonio, you can meet her and see her own spectacular work. She creates exquisite hand dyed clothing in original designs that range from contemporary to traditional. Her technique uses knotting, pleating, rolling, pressing or sewing during the dyeing process. The resulting designs are the memories of the method used to resist the dye.

Want to see for yourself? You’re invited!

Art is everywhere in every form. Celebrate it and share it – and even wear it!

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

In retrospect . . .

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

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

Debby, Rebecca Raubacher, 1976

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia O’Keeffe, drawing of hand, age 14

 

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Critters for Marta

Marta Stafford

One of the nicest surprises of the summer came from the amazing Marta Stafford, who invited me to be a part of her hugely popular gallery, Marta Stafford Fine Art, in Marble Falls.

This is a dream come true – I loved Marta’s gallery from the first moment I saw it six or seven years ago.She has the absolute best in mixed media, sculpture, contemporary and traditional painting, and more. Marta will represent me and my work (woohoo), and I’ll be featured in the exhibit that opens Friday, October 6th.

I need to create some nifty new work for this show, especially imaginative assemblages, so I started digging around for earthenware body parts! Heh, heh.

It’s so much fun putting my clay shards together with found objects and watching new critters emerge. Here’s the progress so far – some are not finished, as you can see – perhaps you can see where they are going? One never knows, do one?

This is a details of a piece I really like

There is actually another face underneath the one you see. Her arm moves in a sweet, spooky way – she’s about 12″ tall.

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The one below is just started, but I like the simple elegance so far.

When finished, this piece will be about 18-20″ tall

Shades of spirit dolls! This construction, below, has some hand-dyed and rusted mulberry paper.

And while I was looking for clay body parts, I found this cat head! It’s now a new Cat Shaman.

Finally, here’s one I started a couple of weeks ago and it’s finally starting to come together. It looks like some sort of ancient goddess staff.

So far, every piece is different from every other one interesting.

I plan to have a number of these assemblages as well as some paintings and collages for Marta’s opening on Friday, October 6th at the Marta Stafford Fine Arts in Marble Falls.

Thanks, Marta, for the invitation – prepare for a critter invasion! ♥

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Hurricane worries

Yesterday, I was working on a blog post about a new project, and, as all of us here in South Texas, was distracted by worsening news about the hurricane looming off our coast. That blog post is on hold until the storm is over – too hard to think about anything else.

The photo above is the current view of Hurricane Harvey as I write this. It’s a menacing spiral, not the nice kind of spirals we use in design, but spirals come from nature, and this is definitely a natural but blessedly rare example. We have friends and family in the Corpus Christi area, and some have already evacuated here to San Antonio.

What do artists do when they have to wait and worry? Well, one way they cope is to use the event for inspiration and try some creative distractions. It helps with the waiting.

Here’s the first creative distraction – spirals. I found this tutorial on drawing them.

How to draw an Archimedean Spiral

This is an easier method than trying to draw the “Golden Spiral” that you see in ammonites (and hurricanes).

And while I was thinking about tidal surges and monsoon rains, I remembered another project that I used to love (and still do). It’s called “Monsoon Paper,” and it was invented by art and business coach Quinn McDonald.

Quinn McDonald’s “monsoon paper”

It involves literally allowing rain to create natural pattern on paper that has been prepared with water media. Here’s a link to the instructions.

Quinn McDonald Monsoon Paper Tutorial

Now it’s back to watching the Weather Channel and waiting for updates from loved ones – be safe, everyone! Like all storms, this one will eventually pass.

 

A visit with Gwen Fox in Taos

Gwen Fox is an extraordinary woman whose abstract paintings glow with inner light and compelling composition. I first fell in love with her work about ten years ago in a gallery in Colorado Springs and knew I had to meet her. So I signed up several years later for Gwen’s week-long painting workshop in Taos and loved every moment. Here’s a post from that 2012 workshop.

Gwen and I and have kept in touch since then, sharing ideas and conversations online. Yesterday, while I was in Taos, NM for the day, I got to visit her in person again.

Lyn and Gwen Fox in her Taos studio in front of a current painting that Gwen has done in oils on canvas.

I was so excited to see the new studio that she built herself – it’s completely inspiring and spiritually satisfying – a perfect space in a perfect place. It’s adjacent to her adobe house.

Everything on the inside and the outside has its place.

The view from her serene bedroom window is as layered as her paintings.

The bathroom sink in the studio is made from a rectangular piece of agate that glows with a translucent abstract landscape when you’re there and, er, sitting down.

And against the walls, Gwen’s painting glow with a resonant energy —

She has a video setup in her studio that I covet.

And here is the most exciting news that I learned from Gwen – she is filming and producing an extensive online class about painting and creativity that sounds amazing.It should be ready this fall and it is the first time her techniques and teaching/coaching expertise will be available online.

Be sure and get on her mailing list to hear more about it and gt updates – I honestly can’t wait for it.

I could go on and on about how much Gwen has influenced my work and my outlook, but I’ll let the video of her home and studio, below, reflect her amazing spirit.

Look for all the little touches she pulls together like grace notes in this home and studio space – like an antique Chinese chest in the pantry because she wants to look at something beautiful when she’s in the kitchen.

Lyn Belisle visits Gwen Fox in her Taos home and studio from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

I’m headed back to Texas tomorrow but I always feel inspired when I spend time with Gwen. Do subscribe to her list and follow her wise advice for every artist.

There’s something else that inspired me while I was here – fly fishing! I‘ll tell you about that in an upcoming post. It was a total surprise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a recent interview, James said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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