Animals, animals . . . . what a spirited workshop!

We finished the second part of the “spirit critter” workshop today at the Art League – beautifying our creations.

Leslie Newton did a very skillful job of loading and firing the kiln between last week’s session and this one. Not one ear or tail was lost.

Pan of fired nekkid critters

Today I got to teach some cold finish techniques for the workshoppers to experiment with on the test pieces and the animals. Cold finishes (or post-fire finishes) are amazingly versatile as long as the piece is not going to be used as a functional item – like a mug.

Potters are discovering things like walnut ink (yeah, my old favorite) and wax embedded with metallic particles. Here are some sample pieces that I used today to demo and test various combinations of walnut ink and metallic wax..

And here are some that were made by Jill Wilson, one of our participants, that show lots of possibilities.

When it came time to put finishes on the animals, a lot of participants liked the idea of the simplicity of just using walnut ink to bring out the texture. Here’s an example – this little guy is almost Pre-Colombian looking – very minimalist and whimsical.

By contrast, this piece has layer upon layer of metallic wax and walnut ink which gives it the look of cast bronze.

This is an example of a cold finish formula that I demonstrated today – there are a thousand variations:

  • Spray the bisque-fired clay liberally with Java walnut ink and let it sit for five or ten seconds.
  • Blot the ink with a shop cloth, then dip one corner of the cloth in water and wipe away the color on the surface, leaving the ink in the contours.
  • With your finger, add a layer of silver Inka Gold metallic finish.
  • When that is even, burnish it with a cloth, then add another partial layer of blue Inka Gold, being random and leaving spots uncovered.
  • Add another random layer, this one gold, and blend in with the blue as you go.
  • Rub on a bit of Jacquard powder in Interference Blue. This will give you a raku-like finish.

If you want to see the whole process, click on the links below to see how the animals were created, start to finish:

DAY ONE – BUILDING THE ANIMALS

DAY TWO- COLD FINISHES AND COMPLETION

Many thanks to the participants – Jill Wilson, Lisa Stamper Meyer, Vera Smith, Becky Hadley, Kimberly Anderson – and especially to my co-teacher, Leslie Newton!

Let’s do it again next year!

 

 

 

 

 

Wax and Clay play – plus a cool lightbox!

Grace and Deliverance (detail), Lyn Belisle, 2018

Grace and Deliverance (detail), Clay and Encaustic, Lyn Belisle, 2018

I’ve been working with earthenware clay and encaustic medium for a few years now, and really enjoying the combination.

But it occurred to me that not all encaustic artists have a chance to try this combination since they don’t have unlimited access to fired clay like I do.

Then it occurred to me that I have an Etsy shop that sells unglazed clay shards to artists. Hmmmmm. Then it occurred to me that I  just got a notice about a discount deal for advertising in Encaustic Arts Magazine.

Aha – the “Earthenware and Encaustic Exploration Set” was born!

I find that when you get an idea, just go ahead with it as if it were already real! Don’t worry about how it’s all going to work. So I put together an ad for Encaustic Arts Magazine that looks like this using photos that I took especially for this purpose:

To make the pieces look good for the ad, good lighting was necessary for the photographs of the clay pieces. So I’m sharing with you a link to a photo light box that I have found to be extremely useful for all kinds of objects – and it’s cheap (about $40) and has its own light source.

It folds up into a flat package, and it comes with different colored backgrounds. As always, you get what you pay for – it’s not what you’d find in a professional photo studio for sure – but it does give good lighting for items up to about 12″.

This is what an art object looks like inside the light box:

Of course, you crop the photos so the edges of the photo box don’t show!

Here are some of the Encaustic Shard photos taken in the new light box – good detail! By the way, I use my iPhone for taking the photos 99% of the time. You don’t need a fancy camera.

To create the ad for Encaustic Arts Magazine, I wrote a simple description of how an encaustic artist might want to experiment with clay on a small scale. The I added the photos. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to put something like this together. True! Here’s a link to how to make an ad using Microsoft Word.

Anyway, if there is a point to this post, it is to follow up on an idea that you think might work as if it were already a success, using tools that facilitate the process.

It’s important to start with the conviction that the idea it WILL work – and in fleshing out the idea, you learn a lot along the way. If it doesn’t work, the journey itself is worth the price of admission!

I’ll let you know if the “Earthenware and Encaustic Exploration Set” appeals to encaustic artists when the ad comes out in June, but even if it doesn’t, it’s always fun to put together an inspiration!

 

 

 

 

 

Naturally Inspired – a natural collaboration

Lyn Belisle, “Bedrock” – Earthenware, found objects, 2019

NATURALLY INSPIRED: WORK BY LYN BELISLE, SABRA BOOTH, JESUS TORO MARTINEZ, AND TIM MCMEANS

I finally got to the this fantastic exhibition at St. Mary’s University which opened while we were in Cuba. The last I saw of my “Unearthed” pieces was dropping them off in a big box to curator Brian St. John at St. Mary’s University – goodbye, stuff!

Brian, a huge talented painter and professor of art at St. Mary’s,  treated me to lunch yesterday and a tour of the exhibit – wow! The works by (lucky) me and the other three artists integrates beautifully. Read Brian’s statement to see how all of this came about:

I knew Tim McMeans’ work well and had admired it for some time. His hybrid painted-drawings of two dimensional figures in broken geometric planes were recently featured in a great show at the Felder Gallery.

Jesus Toro Martinez is also a well-know San Antonio painter whose work I knew for its textures and power depicting earth themes. We had met a couple of times, and I loved his outgoing generous nature.

Jesus Toro Martinez, Sagebush by the Creek

Sabra Booth was new to me, but no longer – she is amazing. Her organize prints and collographs are stunning. In the exhibition, she has one huge collagraphic printing plate displayed next to the framed print it produced. I am a new fan of her work!

Sabra Booth, Frack House (detail)

I took some photographs of the exhibit when I was there with Brian yesterday – want to see? Just click on the image below!

Lyn Belisle, “Unearthed” – earthenware and found objects, 2019

 

 

 

Unearthed

“Unearthed”- Lyn Belisle – Mixed Media Sculpture – 18″x 8″x 6″- 2019

Much of my new work is influenced by the Archaeological Investigations report which describes the 1979-80 research and discovery of 13 Archaic period human burials removed from a prehistoric cemetery by Olmos Dam. The investigation provided important information on the cultural practices during that period among people who lived almost exactly where I live now.

I call this new sculpture “Unearthed because I deliberately followed a process by which the clay shards that I created were fired in pieces that would be assembled like an unearthed archaeological puzzle – I did not have a plan about how they would go together, but rather worked on instinct. I let the piece “tell” me how it wanted to be built.

Clay shard pieces at the bottom of the kiln

It was harder than I thought. First of all, engineering a stable form from diverse clay pieces was a challenge. I used a combination of wood, plaster gauze (a gift from Shannon Weber) and a product called Platinum Patch in a few places where stability was critical.

Creating in three dimensions means paying as much attention to the sides and back as the front. The back of the piece shows the intricate textures pressed into the clay shard.

Here’s a detail of the texture on the front. I really like the way the plaster gauze looks like aged fabric remains.

I actually created two heads for this piece and ended up using the larger one.

A large head suggests child-like proportions, while this body suggests armor, so the whole piece resembles an ancient child warrior. Again, when I started out, I had no idea what this creature wanted or how to get there, but — trust the process!

You’ll be able to see this guy (and more of my brand new 3-D work) at  St Mary’s University Library in February as part of the exhibition called  “Naturally Inspired: works by Sabra Booth, Lyn Belisle, Jesus Toro Martinez, and Tim McMeans.” 

It’s gonna be a creative new year!