Altered paper, enduring magic

Ahhh – the smell of Citrasolv was in the air yesterday afternoon. Brushed onto the pages of National Geographic magazine, it never fails to turn photographs into otherworldly abstract patterns. When strips and scraps of this paper are combined, magic happens!

No matter how many times I teach this workshop, the results are fabulous – fresh, original and intriguing. Here’s a short video of the workshop participants creating their outstanding work in yesterday’s Small Worlds: Abstract Landscapes and Altered Paper gathering (If you can’t see the video, click here):

Lyn Belisle Workshop: Altered Paper Collage from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

Each person chose one of his or her works to mat, and here are their favorites:

Wally

Wally

Mackenzie

Mackenzie

Claire

Claire

5

Jan

Pamela

Pamela

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Linda

I taught a comprehensive version of this class at Artful Gathering several summers ago, and the DVD is available here.

There are also a number of free, online resources on this technique, including this really good one from Cathy Taylor.

This is one of those simple processes that rarely fails and is a lot of fun to put together! Happy Citrasolv sniffing!

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Back from a week in the wilds of Washington

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I woke up Sunday morning to a temperature of 38F and a herd of elk lurking around the cluster of farm building where I was staying. It was the last day of the Spring 2017 Gaian Soul retreat, held this time at Cedar Springs Lodge and Farm, Skagit County, Washington, just south of the Canadian border.

The theme of the retreat was Tarot and Talismans. I taught talisman-making techniques, including beeswax applications on clay and fiber, and rolled paper/fiber/wax bead techniques. My dear friend, Joanna Powell Colbert, infused these techniques with mystery, magic and spiritual intent through her teaching of the Tarot. It was a perfect fit. We were all thrilled with the results.

I kept wanting to post pictures to SHARDS all of last week, but the internet connection was slow out there, so I just put a bunch of them into this video to share with you:

Tarot and Talismans from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

I also put up a page on my website for the retreat participants with links to the supplies that we used in the workshop, and you are welcome to take a look, too!

Click this Tarot and Talisman link.

Making the beads was such a success that I want to offer it as a separate workshop at my studio later this summer. The talismans took quite a while to complete – three days of fairly steady work, but you can make several dozen spectacular beeswax, fiber and paper beads in an afternoon. Stay tuned.

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I hitched a ride with my friend Lisa Sanger Blinn from SeaTac airport to the Cedar Springs Farm, which is about a two hour drive. We visited the town of LaConner both coming and going. It has great galleries, restaurants and shops. The Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery is fantastic. And all around La Conner, we saw acres of daffodils that are being harvested for commercial florists. Most were not in bloom yet, but some were – spectacular!

And, yes, they grow in boggy soil. There were also fields of swans and snow geese.

Thanks to Lisa for showing me the sights – for a Houston girl who works at Rice University, she sure knows her way around the Pacific Northwest!

And more special thanks to Joanna Colbert Powell and the Gaian Soul circle of women for inviting me back to teach the talisman workshop – it was a wonderful week!

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In praise of nature

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

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

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

Jars of found nature objects on my bookshelves

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

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

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

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

Session Two: July 16 – August 26

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

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

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

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

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

So here’s your homework:

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

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

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


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Little collages, lots of possibilities

I’m so excited! Studio C Gallery at the Art Center of Corpus Christi invited me to show my work there. They requested some of my journals, which makes me happy because those are truly mixed-media work, plus I love hand-made books. It occurred to me that a 5×7′ journal is the perfect size for the 5×7″ collages that I routinely demonstrate in my workshops. So it was natural to create small collages for the journal covers.

I used a combination of tissue, wax, ribbon, beads, wombats (actually no wombats) and I was pleased with the results. Here are some photos of six of these. I am creating the journals in a numbered series of ten, each with a title.

Journal inside front cover with title and number

Journal inside front cover with title and number

"Elizabeth"

“Elizabeth”

"Pearl Reflection"

“Pearl Reflection”

"Pensive Mercy"

“Pensive Mercy”

"Renaissance Dreams"

“Renaissance Dreams”

"Shell Spinner"

“Shell Spinner”

"Winter Bay"

“Winter Bay”

It’s kinda cool that you get an original collage and a journal in the same little package! Functional art, for sure.

This past Sunday, I had a Wax and Tissue workshop at the little studio, and we created more of these 5×7″ mixed media/beeswax collages.

As always, the work was fantastic. Jo Etta Jupe, who teaches papermaking at the Southwest School of Art,  commented that everyone’s pieces were authentic reflections of their personal style and vision. How true – take a look!

If you find yourself in need of an enjoyable small project, try some of these 5×7″ mixed-media collages. They lend themselves to all kinds of possibilities, including journal covers!

The weekend approaches – get out there and enjoy it. Oh, and if you’re in San Antonio, drop by the San Antonio Art League & Museum on Sunday afternoon for the opening of the Collegiate student exhibit. I got a sneak preview yesterday, and it is a strong show that will generate a lot of lively conversation!!

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Whiter Shades, the Sequel!

Lesta Frank and I had been wanting to repeat this popular Whiter Shades of Pale  workshop collaboration, and yesterday we got to! Yay! Plus we got to teach it at Lesta’s cozy studio – what a treat.

We added a few more things to the mix this time, including beeswax and gold book foil. Some of the participants had not worked with encaustic techniques before and they loved it.

As usual, the results from this workshop were fantastic. We had a full day to work on this project, including a lunch break in Lesta’s sunny back yard.

Take a look at the video, and then, at the end of the post, I’ll share some of the things we did in the workshop.

These were some of the ways we created our own pale papers:

Methods

  • Tissue “glued” to gray palette paper with matte medium
  • Brushed with gesso, sprayed with walnut ink while wet
  • Deli paper stenciled with gesso, dipped in coffee when dry
  • White stamps on kraft paper – ink, acrylic paint with felt
  • Walnut ink on kraft paper, dried, brushed with gesso
  • Tinted white paint stenciled
  • Circles stamped with cups and objects
  • Cheesecloth
  • Walnut ink through lace
  • Silver and gold acrylic glazes

There really are no rules, just guidelines and suggestions. Discovery comes through experimental play.

After we made the papers, we constructed a collage on canvas:

Constructing the Ephemeral Collage on Canvas:

  • Review the AB3s of composition
  • Pale images manipulated and printed on plain paper
  • Glue stick to matboard, add small collage elements and wax
  • Sand edges
  • Punch holes
  • Add torn hand-decorated paper to canvas
  • Add box
  • Add sticks
  • Add fiber
  • Sew with tapestry needles
  • Attach with hot glue
  • Overpaint with gesso
  • Overspray with walnut ink, burnish
  • Glaze with metallic acrylic

You can see the steps in progress on the video – these steps, combined with everyone’s individual ideas, led to stunning (and pale) results!

Art unites. Keep up the good work with your creative life – onward through the fog, one step at a time!

 

New year collaboration with Lesta Frank: Whiter Shades of Pale

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Lesta and I had such a great time teaching this workshop last September. We’ve decided to repeat it, this time at Lesta’s studio. The date is Saturday, January 21st and it’s an all-day workshop from 10-4. Click this registration link for more information.

If you’d like to take a look at the last Whiter Shades workshop at my old studio, here’s the video. Notice how mellowed out Mary Beth is – this workshop will totally calm you!

Remember that the best way to know when a new workshop is announced is right here on my SHARDS blog. Thanks for reading – and happy new year!

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Round Top Report – Vivi Magoo at the Prairie

Historic Round Top home

The little town of Round Top, Texas (Pop. 1200) is friendly, charming, and enjoying an artistic Renaissance. I returned there this week to teach at the Vivi Magoo Art Retreat on the Prairielucky me!

When you go there, check out the Round Top Inn –  that’s where I got to stay. The Inn is really a collection of vintage farmhouses and cottages set on lovely grounds framed by oak trees and guarded by a huge furry black cat.

The main house porch

The breakfasts are yummy, too – organic and locally sourced. Here’s my Wednesday morning plate, a fresh tomato tart and sausage. Drool.

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I taught two all-day workshops, The Beauty of Beeswax: Behind the Vintage Veil (which includes collage composition and basic encaustic techniques) and Fabulous Fusion: Wax, Earthenware and Fiber Talismans (which included mold making, wax on earthenware, and assemblage techniques).

Here are two of the demos I did during those classes – you can get the idea of what we worked on from these photos:

Lyn Belisle: "Frisky Nun"

Lyn Belisle: “Frisky Nun”

Lyn Belisle: Wax, Earthenware, Fiber Talisman

Lyn Belisle: Wax, Earthenware, Fiber Talisman

But the real fun of these Vivi Magoo retreats is, of course, watching the students get excited by the process and create breathtaking work.  I am so happy when they take the methods I teach, adapt them for themselves, and then use them in their own spectacularly individual ways.

As you watch this video of both my all-day workshops, pay attention to the different directions that the participants take in their finished pieces. I always tell them there is more than one right answer, and each of them found a brilliant one.

To make the experience totally perfect, beautiful Barb Solem, the Vivi Magoo founder, invited me back for next year – yay! It was the best ending possible to a wonderful three days in Round Top, Texas.

Dixie and Karen make talisman magic!

Dixie and Karen make talisman magic!

Henkel Hall, where the workshops were held

Goodbye, Henkel Hall – see you next year!

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A workshop and visit with Julie and Greg from Australia – wow!

How often have I had an Australian come to Texas for a workshop with me? Well, never – until now.

Greg is amazed by Julie's talent!!

Greg is amazed by Julie’s extraordinary talent – of course!

Australians Julie (Julz) Dandelyon and her husband Greg Dodge had been in touch with me for a while about a possible get-together when they visited the States, but I never thought their visit would become a reality.

It did! We’ve just finished the most amazing two days together at my new house working in mixed media, making molds, firing earthenware, and creating collages on canvas. We also ate, drank, visited, talked for hours about their extensive world travels and plans for the future. Total bonding!

Julie was such a quick study with clay – it was her first time working with the shard face process, and she quickly developed her own unique style, making her own molds and embellishments. Take a look at the video of some of Julie’s work over the past two days – beautiful stuff.

Of course, she did everything upside down . . only kidding. I hope to get to Australia next year to work with Julie on several projects that we discussed – what a dream that would be! Thanks, Greg and Julz!

 

Santa Fe, Round Two

My workshop on Saturday at the Artisan Exp in Santa Fe once again proved to me that starting with a good grasp of composition works magic in any collage-based process. I discussed my Composition AB3’s ( Alignment, Breathing Room and Thirds) and demonstrated how easy it is to master these guidelines.

Voila! Every person produced a really good encaustic collage, all different, but all strong in subject, vision, and composition. Below are some of the pieces in process, and some that are completed. (If you can’t see the images, click here to view them in your browser.)

One of the participants, artist, author and tarot reader Arwen Lynch-Poe, documented her process and with her permission, I’ll use her photos to show you how she put her piece together. (If you can’t see the images, click here to view them in your browser.)

So between Encaustic Bling with Michelle Belto on Friday and Engraven Images on Saturday, the Santa Fe workshops were super fun and successful!

And if you want to take this workshop, you still can. I’m teaching the all-day version, plus a Wax, Earthenware and Fiber Talisman class at ViVi Magoo in Round Top in three weeks.

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Update note: Since I returned from Santa Fe on Monday, I’ve looked at a couple of places for new workshop venues – and there are several good possibilities.. . .more soon.

But the good ol’ Studio isn’t closed yet! We still have a fantastic event coming up a week from today. It’s Monika Astara’s popular trunk show and sale of exquisite, artistic fashions!  Here’s more info – hope to see you there.

monika

Right now I’m off to the Trinity Alumni Art Showcase where I’ll be showing and selling my Encanto earthenware and sari ribbon mixed-media pieces. Wish me luck!

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My Thursday Shareables – Billy Keen and other charming things

Billy Keen, “Becoming Human in the Morning”

Sometimes I get excited about a couple of artful things that are totally unrelated, but very shareable. Such is the case today.

The first item is artist Billy Keen’s comprehensive one-person show which opens at the San Antonio Art League and Museum this Sunday from 3-5.

In a word, it is stunning.

Billy’s work is best described in his own words:

“The works are about transcendence. They explore the tension between beauty and fragility, between our reptilian brain and our higher thinking, between fate, faith and free will. They combine the representational, the abstract and the sculptural. Objects are created, painted, or found. Combined, they become parts of a visual vocabulary exploring the life journey or spiritual pathway.”

I was at the Art League yesterday for a meeting and the show had just been installed. It was an overwhelming experience to walk the galleries alone surrounded by Billy’s work, much of it quite large and looming and magnificent.

Here are some photos that I took, none of which do justice to the work:

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Can you tell I’ve always been a huge fan of Billy Keen and his work? I’m lucky enough to call him a friend and a huge inspiration (and, yes, Billy, I do rip you off, every chance I get!)


The second shareable is little and all mine . . . Thai Buddha Talisman Charms.

talisman

 I recently found a source for these little Thai Buddha prayer charms and decided to incorporate some into portable amulet “shrine charms” that can be clipped on a bag or worn on a scarf. (They have a small steel caribiner clip as well as a split ring on the top for attaching the amulet charms to whatever you choose.) Hmm. they’d even clip to your doggie’s collar to protect him.

Here are the first four prototypes – I’ll have more at the Earthworks show that Linda Rael and I are opening tomorrow at my Studio (see bottom of post for your invitation!)

an1 an2 an3 an4

Hope your Thursday is great – hope to see you at the Studio tomorrow from 6-9, and I hope that you’ll share something nice with someone else today!

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