The serendipitous landscape of fantasy

Landscape collages in progress

Landscape collages in progress

Now THIS is one of my all-time favorite workshops – perfect for any level, full of serendipity, with absolutely gorgeous results. Here’s how I described the workshop online:

Using the technique of DÉCHIRAGE (day-shur-ah j’) – distressed paper collage –  students will gain a solid grasp on composing little landscapes using a variety of altered papers, natural elements, and mixed media special effects. Lyn will also share art-enhancing framing suggestions that compliment your finished work so that your final display is both appealing and professional looking. Even a total beginner can create a stunning artwork with these fun distressed paper techniques.

Yesterday’s participants in the Altered Paper Landscape Abstractions class rose to the occasion with some stunning work. Some people created several collages, some just one, but all were beautiful and individual. The hardest part was choosing which piece to mat for display.

I loved this comment from Ellen, “I got frustrated because couldn’t make it do what I wanted it to do, but when I let it do what it wanted, I loved it!!” Talk about trusting the creative process – when you let go and accept the beautiful, unpredictable results, magic happens.

Take a look at the video, below, and then I’ll give you the list of materials for this project.

Lyn Belisle’s Altered Paper Landscape Collages: Materials List and Source Notes

For the basic collage:

  • A 5×7” piece of matboard, illustration board, or very heavy card stock
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Walnut Ink from
    Tsukineko
  • Altered paper (see below)
  • Metal leaf
  • Stamps and inkpad, your choice
  • Lightweight paper to rub down elements as they are glued
  • Metallic felt tip pens and ultrafine Sharpie (optional)

For the altered paper:

  • Citrasolv orange oil-based cleaning solvent
  • National Geographic magazines or other clay-base ink photos – I encourage you to experiment

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Sources of materials:

  • Mat board scraps can be purchased or requested for free at most frame and craft shops. Look for ones that are dark colored with white on the back for the most versatile design options
  • Citrasolv is becoming widely available in art stores because of this popular altered paper method. You can usually find it at organic grocery stores such as Whole Foods, as well. Online: Citra Solv is now being sold through Cheap Joes, Jerry’s Artarama, Stampington, and DickBlick
  • Tsukineko Walnut Ink is very versatile for many projects and can be ordered from Imagine Crafts, the Tsukineko distributor:
  • I use Scotch permanent glue sticks, but most good brands will do nicely
  • Metal leaf is available in craft stores or can be ordered here on Amazon.com

If you want a very in-depth look at this process, including other altered papers such as “ghost paper” with bleach on black construction paper, I have a DVD called Small Worlds, published by Artful Gathering, that offers an intense discussion of how-to-do-it instructions, videos and demos. Happy new week, All!

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HandEye: the mother lode of inspirational eye-candy

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Wow. Just wow. I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without knowing about HAND/EYE online magazine (it comes in a print edition, too).  I’ve just created an account (free) and am browsing through gallery after gallery of textiles, artifacts, fine crafts, indigenous processes, and so much more.

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Maria Constanza Cardenas – Plumage choker, Orinoco collection. This piece portrays the power of the colors, textures, shapes and movement of the tropics.

The online site is divided into sections and the emphasis is on celebrating cultural creativity and sustainability.

HAND/EYE also features events such as England’s Woolfest as well as unusual products from small commercial designers such as 502 Home’s huipil-inspired ceramics.

A personal favorite is an article written by India Flint in 2010 called  Desert Country: Contemporary Aboriginal Artists Take on the Land.

One of the most wonderful features of the HAND/EYE site is the treasure-trove of archived articles and galleries like that one written by India Flint with beautiful photographs – and they are organized beautifully to allow maximum accessibility.

From the article Desert Country in HandEye Magazine, 2010

They also have a Facebook page if you just want a sneak preview!

I commend this publication for its vision. HAND/EYE Magazine bridges the worlds of art, design, craft, philanthropy, retailing, and socio-environmental sustainability.

That’s my Show and Tell for the week!

Don’t forget that there will be an in-person Show and Tell at the Studio this Saturday from 2-4. I just cleaned up my fiber art room and it looks great, so show up and don’t make me do this clean-up for nothin’ – :). Check it out (below) – it may be the last time you ever see it this organized.

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Want instant relaxation? Try this . . .

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My theme word for 2016 is BALANCE – I’m gonna try to have time for art and workshops and sketching every day, reading more books, updating the website and keeping track of taxes in advance and writing real letters and relaxing and . . . ARG – I got tense and unbalanced just thinking about it!

So I turned to the all-wise higher power – Google! Lo and behold, I found this great guide to active relaxation that takes two minutes at the most and really works to help refocus and calm down. It’s on the Eastern Washington University site, and when I followed the steps, my whole body de-stressed and lightened up.

Want to try it? Here are the steps (and I’ve also made a printable version for you guys that has two copies – one for you and one for a friend – you can find it here).


Sit or lie in a comfortable place with your spine straight.

You may start with either you right side or your left side (most people prefer to begin with their dominant side).

For each step, hold the position described for 5 seconds and concentrate on the sensation of muscle tension. Then release the position and concentrate on changes in the muscles, noticing the sensation of relaxation.

  1. Foot – point and curl toes, turning foot inward
  2. Calf – pull toes toward head, flexing foot
  3. Thigh – push thigh muscles down, tensing muscles
  4. Repeat for opposite foot, calf, and thigh
  5. Stomach – contract stomach, making it as small and tight as possible
  6. Chest, Shoulders, and Upper Back – pull shoulder blades back and together
  7. Upper Arms – push elbow down
  8. Hand and Forearm – make a tight fist
  9. Repeat for opposite upper arm and hand
  10. Neck and Throat – pull chin toward chest and keep it from touching chest
  11. Jaw – bite hard and pull back corners of mouth
  12. Cheeks and Nose – squint and wrinkle nose
  13. Forehead – lift eyebrows as high as possible

That’s it!! I figure that if your body feels unbalanced, your mind is going to take a hike, too – sometimes just remembering to flex my foot (#2) and push my elbows down (#7) is enough to help me refocus.


OK, print out your relaxation tips and go have a balanced and happy weekend – become one with the serene seashore rock!

Stone

 

 

Decayed Daguerreotypes and The Public Domain Review

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Portrait of Emma Gillingham Bostwick [between 1851 and 1860], by Mathew Brady’s studio

Part of having some leisure time over the holidays is discovering new Good Stuff, which, of course, I’m passing along to you guys. Look at that wonderful portrait, above – it’s an old daguerreotype that has been naturally distressed over time by scratches, dust, hair, etc, and particularly the rubbing of its glass cover. Isn’t it beautiful?? Artists strive to achieve those distressed effects in wax and paint – age and natural process has done it for us here.

It’s part of a collection from a site called The Public Domain Review: a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation. You can read more about these daguerreotypes and see many more fantastic examples here.

Reading the Public Domain Review’s mission statement makes me smile:

images“In particular, as our name suggests, the focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction. Our aim is to promote and celebrate the public domain in all its abundance and variety, and help our readers explore its rich terrain – like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond.”

 

The Public Domain Review has unbelievable treasures, and my personal favorites are in the images collections. Here are a few of the non-copyright images I came across in my first visit – it won’t be my last. I hope you have fun with this great resource. I plan to donate to their site (just as soon as I climb out of this rabbit-hole of digital discovery)!

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Beeswax Wednesday was a great mid-week play break

Seven intrepid students came to the Studio yesterday afternoon to help me test drive my first mid-week workshop. It was a major success – we waxed out little hearts out and produced some fine collages. Take a look:


I’ve scheduled three more Wednesday workshop for the spring – it seems to be a good day for a lot of people. One good suggestion was to change the time from 2-5 to 1-4 so participants wold miss the rush hour traffic. Thoughts?

We had an interesting discussion during yesterday’s workshop about materials. There seems to be a trend toward letting the materials dictate the process rather than the other way around.  In all my workshops, I try to encourage the simplest materials possible, and the most accessible. That’s why I like yesterday’s Beeswax Collage workshop – you can do it with an electric griddle and two tuna cans plus some clear wax and white wax. And – tah-dah – just add you own creativity! What a concept.

brushes2One of the best non-gimmicky lists of basic, good quality, non-goofy art materials I’ve come across is Jane Davies’ list of favorite materials. True, she doesn’t include basic encaustic supplies, but here’s my short list for the beeswax collage project:

You can leave some of the medium clear and tint some of it with the white paint in separate tuna cans on your griddle – simple. Be sure and follow the safety rules!

 

 

 

2016 Spring Workshops open for registration

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Yay! It took most of the day yesterday, glued to my computer instead of playing in the Studio, but the spring workshop calendar is finally up on my website. I hope you find something that you like! Thanks to everyone who helped me out with the workshop preference survey – I included most of the things you suggested (like three Composition Camps) and I still have the rest of the year (and some Saturdays) to add new stuff.

And I have some great guest teachers right off the bat – Clare O’Neill, of course (can’t believe she’s actually coming to MY studio – woohoo). There may be one or two spots in her workshops as things shift around, so email me if you are interested.

Also coming are Kelly Schneider Conkling who is teaching meditation as an art process – I saw how she worked with Zelime Matthews and was just amazed. And my friend Lisa Stamper Meyer is going to teach a workshop on simple screen printing for mixed media artists. When she showed it to me, I couldn’t believe how really easy it was. 

handsAnd then there’s ME – I’m teaching 10 workshops this spring, including some on Wednesdays.

Hope to see you in the new workshops! Thanks for making this so much fun – big ol’ group hug!!

 

Super-special-teacher-artist-new-friend Mary Johnston :)

Art One Linocut from one of Mary Johnston’s students

I love serendipity – what are the chances that (a.) a former student of mine (hi, Tyler!) who works at the San Antonio Museum of Art would (b.) start a random conversation with an art teacher from rural New Mexico in (c.) a folk art shop in Port Aransas?

And that (d.) my name would come up? And that (e.) that art teacher would then come to my Studio to meet me? She did, and we had a fantastic conversation!

The teacher is Mary Johnston, and she’s one of those art teachers who knows that art is more than drawing a realistic apple. It’s the heart of human culture, and that’s what she teaches. I received an email from her yesterday with photos of what her students have been up to – and these are students who had never had art before Mary arrived on the scene!

Look at the totems they constructed and the other work they created (below) and then read what Mary has to say about her approach to teaching.

From Mary: “Last year  (Fall 2014) was the first time any of my students had had art classes.  Because of this, I kept lessons fairly traditional and strove to stay in sync with the Northern NM rural community. I worked at nurturing what the students already knew and were comfortable with.

Art 1 . Georgia O’Keeffe Unit. Horse skull.Graduated painting technique. Oil paint on canvas .Mesa Vista High School in Ojo Caliente, NM. Teacher Mary Johnston

The ceramic totems were a grades 8- 12 collaboration and represented 12 NM Pueblos and their styles of pottery . The students chose a pueblo and used that specific pueblo style to inspire their ceramic creations. They studied and wrote about their chosen pueblo’s history and its contribution to NM history. The students  also researched  potters from that pueblo and their contributions to the art world and their pueblo heritage.

As well as being near many pueblos, the school is near Abiquiu, Georgia O’Keeffe Country .Almost all my students know of O’Keeffe and share wonderful  (never before heard)stories of their great grandparents and grandparents working for Georgia. Many of my students have interned  in  Georgia’s home at Ghost Ranch or  at Georgia’s Abiquiu home and garden. “

Isn’t this work fantastic? Mary concludes her note by saying, “My time teaching in Northern New Mexico has been a rich, rewarding and fulfilling experience .I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. However , I  need to get back to my Texas. I love the Hill Country and the San Antonio region and my goal is to reside in the direction of Boerne and teach in the  San Antonio area. My mother, almost 90 years old, is in Austin and needs me much closer than New Mexico.”
I would love for you all meet Mary and I have my fingers crossed that she can find a teaching job here next year – any school would be lucky to have her on their team. If you’d like to contact here about a teaching question or a teaching job, you can email her by clicking here. And you can see more of her students’ amazing work on their Pinterest Board.

 

 

 

 

eBook and Friday Freebie

TGIF, y’all – some of you hopefully downloaded the free eBook I did on Dimensional Collage for the Gaian Soul Retreat on Whidbey Island  in March. And some of you have asked for more information on my new beeswax collage process, especially since last weekend’s workshop was such a success.

3 So – tah dah! I’ve written a new eBook called Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage The 34-page PDF eBook describes my new encaustic process, gives suggestions for photo sources, and includes a gallery of examples.

This one isn’t free. I’m embarking on my first step toward a publishing empire – yahaha. Only kidding. But I did want to see how selling eBooks online worked, so I figured out how to set up a PayPal button on my website. And this little gem of a book can be yours for a mere $5.99. That’s less than a Double Meat Whataburger! I started to ask $6 but marketing people say do the 99 cent thingy. Here’s the link to my first-ever “eBooks For Sale” page.

beescoverwebadMy friend Rosemary, who encouraged me to get this thing done and out there, just read it and said, “It’s like being in the room with you!  Everything seems to be here, the pictures make it clear.  It’s really wonderful!” My first review! Yay!

Anyway, Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage is available on my website, and I will give away a free download as a Friday Freebie to one lucky subscriber to SHARDS, name to be drawn Sunday night.

If you decide to buy the eBook, and something doesn’t work, for heaven’s sake let me know! But so far, so good. Thanks for reading my blog!! Happy weekend.

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How to describe your personal art style using Pinterest as a tool

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Lyn Belisle, “Corwin,” Assemblage 2015

“Oh, you’re an artist? What kind of art do you do?” I get that question fairly often, and I usually just say, “Mixed media.” But if you need to think in terms of a fuller description (such as when writing an artist’s statement), you might need to come up with adjectives that are more specific to your personal style.

One way to do this is to  start a Pinterest board with images of the kind of art that resonates strongly with you – chances are, these images will reflect your own aesthetic. For example, here’s a recent selection from my own Pinterest “Stealboard” (as in “Steal Like an Artist”):

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From this small selection, I can see that I gravitate toward a neutral palette of grays and rusts. I like organic shapes, twig-like lines, and odd and mysterious iconic faces.Not surprisingly, these elements show up consistently in my own work.

Now compare my favorite images to the Pinterest board of North Carolina artist Eileen Ross:

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I don’t know Eileen, but from her selections, I’d say she likes elliptical shapes, whimsical impressionist content, deep pastel colors, washes of paint, and calligraphic elements. When you look at her own work, you can see the strong relationship between what she likes and what she creates. Interesting!

What if you don’t have a Pinterest favorite art board, or even a Pinterest account? It’s easy and free to set one up. Just go to Pinterest and follow the simple directions. I would also suggest that you install the Pinterest browser button – here’s how. This little tool allows you to click on your browser’s tool bar to add a picture from the Internet to your Pinterest favorites board instantly. Be warned, though – once you start collecting, pinning, and analyzing the kind of art work that you love, you can get addicted!

What a show – and tell!

Yesterday’s Show and Tell at the Studio was a mixed-media extravaganza! Each presentation was unique, informative, and fun – and everyone there bounced ideas around like popcorn in a microwave (how’s that for a simile?).

showntellblog

Some of the highlights:

  • J’Cil Horn’s use of a fiber product called Warm and Natural, which is a cotton batting used by quilters that adapts itself to so many possibilities, including acrylic paint and fabric embellishments.
  • Paige Ramsey-Palmer’s fascinating introduction to healthy probiotic foods  – it is a culinary art that had us asking tons of questions as we sipped the lemon and ginger drinks she’d made for us.
  • Christie Smith’s show-and-tell on Gyotaku (fish printing) that she was introduced to the fish printing during the TP&W BOW (Becoming and Outdoor Woman) weekend this spring which was held at the Texas Baptist Encampment in Palacios, and, yes, the fish were real (but frozen). Christie’s shrimp prints were a crowd favorite.
  • Gloria Hill’s insightful presentation on two important mindsets for artists – recycling and stealing. The recycling part means transforming you less successful work into new creations through collage, and the stealing part is the good kind of theft – finding artists’ work you love and being inspired by their techniques. See Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, and read Gloria’s blog, Open Doors.
  • Rosemary Uchniat’s sneak preview of the Small-Space Dyeing workshop she’ll be giving at my Studio on July 18th from 1-5. I posted a rave about this technique recently. Rosemary previewed the technique and results in about a square foot of space. One show-and-teller signer up on the spot. FYI, there are two spaces left.

So now that you’ve read the trailer, see the film! Here’s a short video of some of the great demos from yesterday, and the people who came, learned, ate, sipped and enjoyed the afternoon at Lyn Belisle Studio. Our next Show and Tell is May 30th from 2-4. Be there or be square and creatively unaware! 🙂