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.

_______________________________________________________________________

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

Fat fiber and skinny holes – Carolyn to the rescue!

Just because I call myself a “mixed-media artist” doesn’t mean I am good at everything. On the contrary.

When I took a seed-beading workshop a few years ago, I got so frustrated trying to threading those microscopic devil-beads onto a hair-thin sewing needle to attach them to a piece of felt, my table-mate finally said, “Honey, why don’t just just try hot glue?”‘

Threading stuff is not my strength. If you’ve watched my workshop videos, you may have noticed that I often have to change course after try to force a piece of fuzzy thread through a little hole in a clay face.

Fortunately, one of my online workshop participants, artist Carolyn Congrove from Tucson, took pity on me and just sent me this great video that she made to help me out! This is very cool.

She shows three easy approaches to threading wiggly big thread and ribbon though little holes without causing the threadee to have a nervous breakdown. I asked her if I could share it with you guys, and she said I could.

Her daughter April shot the helpful video. The floss-threader tip, as she says, is a game-changer.

 

This isn’t the first time Carolyn has helped me out – she sent some great photos of her lotus books that I used in one of my recent posts about giving gifts of art from your heart during this pandamic.

Carolyn Congrove

I have met so many nice (and helpful) people like Carolyn through the online workshops on my Teachable site. Don’t forget there are free workshops for you there, including the Lotus Book.

And if you want to trim your Lotus Book with some little-bitty beads on some wiggly fuzzy thread, Carolyn has come to our rescue.

Take care – stay cool!

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

 

 

 

Lifting spirits with little gifts of art

Have you noticed that little gifts mean even more in tough times? I’m not sure I ever realized that before the “Age of COVID” smacked us all around and left everybody’s crystal balls all fogged up. But some things never change, like creative thoughtfulness.
When I published my new eBook, Postcards to Myself, I wrote it primarily for individual artists (beginners and seasoned) who needed an engaging method to discover, curate, and record their best techniques.

But those artists have taken the “postcard” idea and run with it.
I just got this note from one of them:
Just wanted to let you know that I really got caught up in your class “Postcards to Myself”.  I never really understood how to do collage until I took this class.  I was gathering quite the stack of them and finally decided to share them. 
I wrote words of inspiration on the Mat board before I started the collage.  I put them in envelopes and sent them out to friends and those who might be needing a little bit of encouragement during this pandemic. 
Creating the art helped me immensely!  I probably send out between 75 and 100 of them.  What fun I’ve had! Thanks for teaching the class!
Niki W.
Here’s Niki’s work table with postcards in progress:
This email was totally unexpected – and frankly, pretty exciting! Who wouldn’t want an actual piece of art in the mail? Niki, you are the best!
Another “giving” idea (from me to you) is my free workshop called The Lotus Book. Currently, there are 111 artists enrolled in that class, watching the instructional videos, and creating these art books. In the Lotus Book workshop, I encourage you to make these little journals a gifts for others.
Here are some emails and examples that artists have sent to show me what they’re doing:
Hi, Lyn,
I just finished my first lotus book! Thank you so much for a wonderful time, for sharing your creativity with all of us. Here are the pics.  Not the greatest, had to use a cat snoozie for a background and the light wasn’t quite right, but you’ll get the idea.Seems like a win-win during this Pandemic time. Stay safe! ~ Kate 
This book, from Anna, has such great pattern coordination – lucky someone, whoever gets this one!
And this note, from Carolyn, combines the Postcard book techniques with the Lotus Book! Brilliant!

 

Hi Lyn,
I’m having so much fun watching your classes and then working on the projects.  The first two photos are of the Lotus book.  I had cut out some 4×4 pieces from some scrap from the Postcards to Myself class and decided they would look great applied to a Lotus book.  The third photo is from the Postcards to Myself class but without the wax. They’re just the inspiration and distraction l needed. ~ Carolyn

 

My job in all of this is to encourage you to create with a purpose – creative thoughtfulness is a win-win.

 

Here’s the ink to the free Lotus Book workshop.

And here’s the link to the Postcard book – it’s not free but it’s  very affordable and will reward you will much gratitude fro your friends who are graced with your mail art!

 

Trust yourself, trust the process, and take good care this week –

 

Lyn

 

The results are in . . . thank you so much!

What a great response to my plea for help in my last post! We must trust and rely on each other in times like this, for sure, and your input on what online workshops should look like was invaluable.

Here are two charts from your responses (my geek side took over while I was compiling these stats). The first one shows suggested workshop topics by most votes – #5, Mixed Media on Paper, had the most, but everyone liked pretty much everything.

This shows preferred method of deliveryonline classes with several videos and eBooks with videos tied for favorites. Excellent. Those are my faves, too.

These results mirror the topics and methods I love in my own teaching and learning. The new Postcards to Myself eBook with Videos is coming out in just five days. –

And you can sign up for one of my online classes with several videos today if you want to help give more feedback.

Here’s the deal:

I have been researching a platform called Teachable, like it a lot, and have put up a new “school” there called Lyn Belisle Studio. And — as a first move, I’ve decided to add the mixed-media workshops I made from my Artful Gathering classes from the last four or five years to the new “school.”
Artful Gathering, as some of you may remember, was a wonderful organization (thanks, Zinnia!) that subscribers purchased every summer. The faculty, including me, taught various intensive mixed-media online workshops for a period of about six weeks for each class.
While Artful Gathering sponsored and managed the events, the content remains the property of the instructors. It seemed a shame to me that more people couldn’t see those classes now that the Artful Gathering instructors have scattered.
So, I am going to make the classes I designed for AG available again on the Teachable platform all year round and at a lower price. Makes sense? I’ll also be developing new courses but this will get us off to a fast start with fun video workshops.
The first workshop that I’ve made available is called Story in a Story, and it has been reworked to fit the Teachable platform. What a learning experience that was!
There are ten videos totaling a little over two hours which show all kinds of techniques for creating portfolio covers for your kindle or iPad – or for whatever you want! I’ll put a link for the promo at the bottom. So . . . .
  • I’m asking some of you to help me test-drive this new workshop platform
  • I’m currently using the trial version of Teachable, which allows me to have just 10 students – later on, I can have an unlimited number
  • Before I pay the monthly fee for Teachable, I want to make sure you like it – I need your feedback
  • The Story in a Story course is available for registration right now, but again, registration is limited to ten students
  • The workshop price will normally be $39, but right now it’s $10 just to see how the payment process works and all of that – again, limit 10
  • If you would like to register, I will pass on your $10 tuition  to the San Antonio Food Bank (later, the tuition will be $39 and will go toward paying the Teachable platform fee).
  • If you are one of the ten students, please help me with comments on how you think it works, how easy it is to access the videos – all of that stuff.
  • You will help me immensely with my decision to go with the paid version of Teachable going forward. Oh, and I can have classes by other instructors there too – like Lesta Frank and Michelle Belto! It’s exciting.

Here are the relevant links:

If you’d like to register for the Story in a Story Workshop on Teachable for $10 (which will then go to the Food Bank) follow this link and scroll to the bottom for Featured Courses (there’s just one so far):
If you’d like to see the original class promo before you consider signing up to test drive the workshop, go here to Vimeo:
I’ll get notifications from Teachable when you sign up and will make a class email list for your feedback. No pressure, just thanks for considering this. I need your help to know how best to bring you new workshops.
Oh, and the next two Artful Gathering workshops to go up on Teachable if all this works will be the Citra-solv collage class and the Mystical Cat Shaman class! Those should be up in the next week or two, tuition $39.

One more thing- from all the names that submitted suggestions and data, Rosemary Uchniat is the randomly chosen winner of the lovely Johnny Was mask! Rosemary, decide whether you like the blue one or the green one, and I will get it in the mail to you.

Thanks for listening to all of this. There are important things going on in our world.  We are all learning – together.

 

♥Lyn

 

 

Shards and Tesserae

Christa Lamb is a mosaic artist from Cottonwood HeightsUtah, who has ordered small shard faces from my Etsy shop several times. She sent me a message last week saying, “I thought you might be interested in seeing how I use your beautiful faces in my work,” and she attached some photos.

 I was amazed at her work. I often wonder how artists use these faces, but never expected to see them incorporated into such fantastic mosaics!

I asked her if I could share them with SHARDS readers, and she agreed – thanks, Christa!

She sent several more examples, all of which use mixed media materials to create rich panoramas in tiles, glass and found objects. I love these fabulous “storyboards.”

Here are some more of Christa’s mosaics:

The details are endlessly intriguing.

Look at this mysterious mixture, below!

I found more of her work on Flickr – along with some gorgeous photos of Utah.
Thanks, Christa – so grateful for your work and your email ! Do you show your work in a gallery? We’d love to see more!
Keep in touch,
Lyn

 

 

 

Abstraction/Non-Objective: the emancipation of the mind ?

I had the great pleasure of working with five friends, all whom create artwork that I admire, in an abstract painting workshop at my Studio last Friday.

From left: Pamela Ferguson, Bibi Saidi, Carolyn Royall, Robin Gara – not pictured: Nancy Vandenburg

Part of the fun was sharing thoughts about abstraction and non-objective painting. Here’s one of my favorite quotes written by Arshile Gorky:

“Abstraction allows man to see with his mind
what he cannot physically see with his eyes…
Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible,
to extract the infinite out of the finite.
It is the emancipation of the mind.
It is an explosion into unknown areas.” 

Emancipating one’s mind is a tough assignment. It’s human nature to try to direct the outcome of our work, and it’s difficult to let go of that control. We followed a “map” of steps to an unknown outcome. You can download the workshop outline here to see how we painted our abstract studies.

I try to develop a slightly different plan of attack for each painting workshop. Individual students react in different ways to techniques that get them to break the ice on a blank canvas. But we almost always start with mark-making, usually asemic writing.

It’s super-important to agree at the beginning that we will not create a masterpiece in three hours, but we might learn some new approaches to making meaningful paintings. Here are some of the first stages or our warmup:

And here are some in the second stage:

When you watch the video, you can see what some of our results were – all interesting! Several of the artists said that they were out of their comfort zone, but pleased with the final outcome, which may be the whole point!

Video Link

For further study, you can read a good explanation of Abstraction in Art from the Tate Museum.

Thanks for reading SHARDS – and remember, if you and a group of four or five friends  would like to organize a workshop at my studio, just send me an email!

“Where can I get . . . ? (my top five sources – non-Amazon!)

The New Year is a great time to identify the creative materials you use the most .  These are your signature media, your “desert island” necessities. This list can help you in your resolution to streamline and simplify your studio space once you know what you will really use.

I know what MY own signature media are. Here are the Top Five that I use extensively in my own work and in almost all of my workshops (Raise your hand if you’ve used walnut ink because you learned about it in one of our workshops!)

  1. Tsukineko Walnut Ink
  2. Beeswax
  3. Book Foil
  4. Sari Silk
  5. Artificial Sinew

I get a lot of questions about where to find these materials since they are not really mainstream art/craft materials. I prefer to buy from places other than Amazon (although the Big A is certainly fast and convenient).

But when I can obtain my signature materials from other artists or independent retailers, I try to share those sources.

Here they are – enjoy looking! :

Tsukineko Walnut Ink:

https://www.imaginecrafts.com/walnut-ink/view-grid/1351

I have always ordered my walnut ink spray from Imagine Crafts. They have friendly customer service and ship quickly.  It’s often hard to find walnut ink at places like Michael’s or JoAnns (a lot of people have never heard of it) but it’s always in stock at Imagine.

If you browse around the Tsukineko inks, you’ll see that there is a pastel set (Cherry Blossom, Cornflower, Willow, Lilac) as well as an earth-tone set (Java, Eucalyptus, Walnut, Terra Cotta). Either set of four bottles retails for $23. Any color can also be purchase singly for $5.70.

Beeswax:

There are many different forms of beeswax and thousands of ways to use it.  I use beeswax for encaustic collage and for assemblage. I use it on clay and on fiber. My preferred beeswax is all natural White Beeswax pellets, refined in the USA without any chemical bleaching aids. My favorite source for this is Swans Candles in Tenino, WA.

Swans has a fine selection of beeswax and other encaustic supplies (including Damar Varnish if you want to make your own encaustic medium). Their prices are excellent. You can buy a pound of Natural White Beeswax pellets for $9.95.

Most retail art stores now sell beeswax and other encaustic supplies, but you can expect to pay almost twice as much per pound. Even on Amazon, a pound of R&F Encaustic White Beeswax lists at $18.86.

Book Foil:

This foil, also known as Deco Foil, is generally used for transferring metallic finishes to craft projects using an adhesive. Here’s a link to a video that shows demos about that. However, if you’ve taken an encaustic workshop with me, you know that we also use it to create fine gold marks onto a waxed surface.

One of the best places to order this foil is Dharma Trading Company. They are generally known for their fiber art supplies, but you will love their site for lots of other reasons! For Deco Foil, for example, they have the best selection and lowest price of anyone, including Amazon. Currently, they sell a cylinder of five sheets, 6×10″, for just $3.89.

Sari Silk:

I discovered my source, Felt Better, on Etsy several years ago, and I have ordered from them many times.

This is what the owner, Michelle, says about her sari silk: “The beautiful, exotic sari ribbon I carry is all the best things about recycling that I love. First and foremost, it helps our fragile planet by making use of material that would end up in landfills. Did you know that it helps women too? It’s a fair trade product that works close with women co-op groups, insures they get a fair wage, that helps them support their families….and most importantly, no child labor is involved.”

I use sari silk for so many things – for journals, assemblage, spirit dolls, and just to hang in my studio for pure enjoyment of its colors, history, and textures. A 100 gram skein (about 45 yards) costs $12.50 at Felt Better.

Artificial Sinew:

Do the words “cat gut” make you shudder? What about “sheep sinew?” Those were traditional material used for lacing and tying leather and gourds. Fortunately, artificial sinew is now available because I use a lot of it! It’s a material I use for clay assemblage, bead stringing, fiber art, and almost anything else that requires tying one thing to another thing.

I used to buy it at Tandy’s Leather Store, but have discover a new online treasure trove. The Thread Exchange specializes in the kinds of thread that are not sold in stores, including a huge selection of artificial sinew. The company is based in North Carolina and its website is user-friendly.

They have almost twenty colors of sinew, although I am partial to the Natural and the other earth colors like Terra Cotta. A 17-yard roll is about $5.00 and a 265-yard roll is only about $15.00.

For 2020, I would like to make a commitment to bring into my workspace only those materials that I really need, use and love. Hmmmm… it’s not always easy, because experimenting with new things is part of the game.

So here I go, tempting you with great sources for wonderful materials that may be new to  — I hope some of these will inspire your work for the new year. Thanks for reading SHARDS!