Thoughts on a studio anniversary.

A year ago – almost to the day – I said goodbye to my studio in Carousel Court. It was a hard goodbye. The space had been a gathering place for workshops, art shows, Show-and-Tell Saturdays, poetry readings – many things to remember and cherish. I truly miss that place, but it had become a huge responsibility, too big (and expensive) for one person to keep up forever.

Here’s a look at one of the early workshops there with beloved guest artist Sherrill Kahn. It was so much fun!

A month after I closed the doors forever, I found a smaller place just down the street from my new house. It has four rooms, lots of storage space, and reasonable rent.

Some of you have been there – thanks! Because of downsizing, and new responsibilities at the Art League, my workshop schedule had to be adjusted downward. Arg!

But ironically, on this anniversary weekend, I had two workshops at the new little studio, both of which were delightful (and neither of which was on my website calendar).

The first one on Friday the 13th was organized by six friends who wanted to learn some encaustic basics. They contacted me, and we scheduled it at their convenience.  We did a variation of the “Behind the Veil” vintage photocollage workshop. We worked with layered beeswax, oil paint, book foil, walnut ink – all the fun media that gets good results. Here’s a video of that “workshop-by-request” gathering:

Lyn Belisle Workshop: Encaustic Collage by request from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

The second workshop on Sunday was my old favorite, Creating Spirit Dolls. I have a group of friends who went with me three years ago to Whidbey Island when I taught with Joanna Powell Colbert. They had been wanting to learn to make spirit dolls, and so we did it! Here’s that video – it’s so interesting to see how different everyone’s turned out.

Making Spirit Dolls at Lyn Belisle’s studio in San Antonio from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

I love teaching workshops! And as I look back on this year, I’m feeling the loss of those gatherings at the old studio. In the new place, we are limited to six people in a workshop, but that’s actually a good number. If you have a group of four to six people who’d like to learn mixed-media together, let’s talk. Workshop-by-request is a great concept.

I’m also going to expand online workshop offerings through some new ebooks with videos, starting with the popular “Postcards to Myself”. I got the nicest letter from an Etsy buyer yesterday, which gave me some encouragement:

“Dear Lyn,
Please continue making the e-books for people like me who live in another state and want to learn and experiment…am so excited…youre such an inspiration…thanks for sharing…and with your open heart all that you share and give will come back 10 fold to fill your heart and spirit as you have done for myself and others.”
  Jacque in Washington State.
Finally, I have high hopes for the studio space at the Art League on King William Street. With good luck and some anticipated financial support, that studio may become the kind of gathering place that the old Carousel Court studio was. We’re having a workshop there on the 29th, and there are still two spaces left. Join us and give us your ideas and feedback

Workshop at the Art League Studio on King William Street

Looking back, it’s been a crazy, exciting, challenging year and one that has confirmed how much I love teaching and learning with all of you, no matter when, where or what! I hope to see you soon. Thanks for your support and friendship 🙂

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not fighting the old, but on building the new.”

― Socrates

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. . .that’s when I knew her name

One of my favorite poets and people, Pamela Ferguson, contacted me recently to see if I’d teach a Wax and Talisman workshop for her small group, and I said “Of course!”. Pamela had taken the Small Worlds workshop last March and I wrote about her work here in an earlier post.

Teaching this talisman workshop is so rewarding – it’s the subject of my latest ebook, and one of the most personal workshops that I offer. So I was excited to be teaching it “live,” especially when I found out that Pamela’s granddaughter Caitlyn would be in the group. It’s fun to see how different generations respond to an art challenge.

Pamela’s group came to the studio yesterday and we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. The workshop has three components:

  • Personalizing the earthenware face piece and painting melted beeswax wax on the surface
  • Making rolled paper “blessing beads” and adding texture, beeswax, and metallic enhancements
  • Tying symbolic ribbons and cord to the focal piece and stringing the beads

Every step has meaning and intention. I asked the students to let their intuition lead them and to see what would happen. I also asked them to name their pieces when we finished.

This is Caitlyn’s piece – she is a senior in high school and very perceptive about herself and others. She adores her grandmother, Pamela.

Her blessing beads are beautiful, and I like the way she has grouped them at the bottom edge of the face. During discussion time, I asked Caitlyn what she had named her talisman. She said the name kept shifting as she got deeper and deeper into the process, but it had ended up as “Venus” – not what she’d expected. We all understood what she meant !

This morning, I got an email from Pamela saying how much they had enjoyed the workshop. Then she told me that Caitlyn had started talking about her talisman as they were driving home. Her words were almost an impromptu poem, which Pamela wrote down.

Read Caitlyn’s poem and look at the talisman she created which inspired it – lovely.

Talisman
by Caitlyn
Venus is her name –
    the two sides of her face
    the two sides of love
 
The light side has golden glow
The ribbons are bright, peachy,
      lots of strands, beads, charms.
 
The other side is dark –
the walnut stain soaked deeply.
The copper tear by her eye was accidental
      but love can cause pain.
That’s when I knew her name –
      the tear, the dark side.
And those ribbons are thin, stringy –
black, gray – sadder somehow.
 
I didn’t mean for her to be Venus
      the goddess of love
but that’s how she came out.

It’s all about trusting the process – letting go of what we expect and letting the intuitive take over. I’m very glad that Caitlyn’s work and poetry expresses this so perfectly – she didn’t mean for her to be Venus, the goddess of love, but that’s how she came out!

But wait, there’s more! Pamela, a published poet, had her own insight about the process. She sent me her poem this morning, as well – it’s titled “Paper Bead,” but it’s about much, much more.

Paper Bead

     by Pamela Ferguson

 

Cut a strip of paper,

long

narrow

Write a secret word,

a power word

a sacred one –

a promise – a passion –

a vision word.

 

Glue the strip

almost end to end

side to side.

Coat your word

with protection.

 

Lay a skewer on the almost end –

roll the strip onto the tiny dowel

until your word is cocooned within –

held by the power of your hands

the dowel

the glue.

 

Bedeck the roll with ribbon

or string or yarn-

chain or silk or sinew.

 

Seal in place with that most

basic of adherents –

pure, warm beeswax.

Coat the cocoon.

Seal your word

in the unique world you make

and remake each day.

Add its shape and your word

to your memory’s bliss.

 

Then do another.

 

Don’t you love the way the creative process works with work and words? I especially like Pamela’s last line, “Then do another.” It means that we can do this any time, this expressing our best thoughts through our art and our poetry. It’s so comforting and liberating.
Thanks, Pamela and Caitlyn, grandmother and granddaughter, for sharing your artwork and your poetry.
PS I’m always happy to arrange a small group workshop for you – you don’t even have to be an artist or a poet!

 

 

 

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A new website – and it’s mine, all mine!

TAH-DAH!! New studio, new website - life is bueno!

TAH-DAH!! New studio, new website – life is bueno!

Whew! My new website is finished (or as finished as those things ever get – tweak tweak). Take a look!

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I built it myself so I could include things like links to my Etsy page and a “Your Page” place to show video tutorials for you guys. It also has a super easy link to the Behind the Veil encaustic collage ebook, which makes downloading a snap.

Creating a new site was hard, but worth it! And it works sooooo much better than the old website, which had been around since the dawn of the Internet.

SHARDS readers are the first to see this, and I would greatly appreciate any feedback or suggestions, positive or negative (sometimes negative is a very good thing).

Yeah, I know the studio workshops aren’t up yet, but they will be soon, and the check-out process should be simple and easy.

So here’s the link – thanks for checking it out!! And stay warm and dry this weekend – here in South Texas it’s gonna get nasty – brrrrrrrr.

Monika Astara delights fashionistas with her magical wares

Monika Astara and her friend Jenika drove in from Austin yesterday and parked in front of the Studio in a regular old car. Why is that notable? Because concealed inside the car trunk were racks and racks of designer clothing. It gave a whole new meaning to “Trunk Sale”.

Serious magic happened when the car trunk opened, the racks were put together, and over 400 pieces of gorgeous designer clothing were wheeled into the Studio.

We had an amazing day – Monika is a joy, always transforming her clients with the flip of a scarf or a tweak of a top. Take a look. (If you can’t see the photos, click here)

Photos by Jenika!  And if you missed the sale, and are curious about Monika’s creations, you can visit her website and order online.

I had the pleasure of visiting her Austin studio last year – here’s a replay of that awesome visit! Thanks, Monika – the next trunk show will be announced soon – guess where??

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So much to show, so much to tell . . .

Saturday’s Show and Tell was one of the best – everything from Fairy Houses to paper-making to poetry. Michelle Belto‘s demonstration of how easy it is to make your own paper was a real eye-opener for those who’d never tried this process.

Her system is ingenious and can be done in a small space. Michelle will be teaching this method in an upcoming Artful Gathering class, but we got a Sneak Preview yesterday!

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There were lots of other fantastic S&T-ers, including the always-amazing Vicky Siptak, who showed a Fairy House that she had made for her granddaughter. It’s weatherproof to keep the fairies snug and warm in the garden, and it has its own guardian dragon. And our poets, Tom Schall and Harold Rodinsky, graced us with their eloquence. Take a look at the video:

For my own Show and Tell, I needed to share, sadly, that my space in Carousel Court will be closing at the end of October. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that my lease is up.

But I will continue having workshops (mixed media and pottery) and other gatherings in my new space soon – more to come on that. If you’ve been with me for five years or so, you’ll remember those workshops at my home studio and how much fun they were. Sometimes change is energizing, and the Studio (and SHARDS) will live on!

Wise One (detail) by Linda Rael

In the meantime, September is filled with workshops and shows, including the show that Linda Rael and I are having on September 9th and 10th. It’s called EARTHWORKS, and all of the pieces in this two-day show are inspired by natural materials. Please join us!

earthworks copy

In the next SHARDS post, I’ll show you some techniques that Lesta Frank and I developed last week while we were working on ideas for our Whiter Shades of Pale workshop. The September 17th workshop is full, but there will be another session offered in early October – stay tuned!

light angel

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EARTHWORKS: September 9-10

She Cat – created by Linda Rael, owned and cherished by Lyn Belisle

I know of no other artist whose works resonate in my heart as much as those of dear friend Linda Rael. Everything she creates makes me think, “Dang, I wish I had done that.” She incorporates animal bones and porcupine quills and rust and earth and tattered linen and other stuff that myths and magic are made of. I purely love her art!

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael – Fiber, Rust, Found Objects –  2016

It’s been a dream of mine for several years to collaborate with Linda on a show, and recently, over a long lunch, we decided to go for it! We are calling this show “Earthworks” – it reflects a direction that we’ve both been exploring, going to ground, leaving behind bright color and adding elements one might find along a stream bed or sacred path.

earthworks copy

The works will be on exhibit at my Studio for just two days during the second weekend of September. 

Many of Linda’s new pieces are fiber-based and hand-rusted with the natural patterns adorned and enhanced with hand stitching. My own pieces will be mostly sculptural, much like my neo-santo series, but less refined, more weathered.

Want to see a few sneak preview photos? Please take a look, then mark your calendar now because the availability of these works is limited to September 9-10 only.  You won’t want to miss this event – it’s always fun to visit the Studio, and I am thrilled that Linda is joining me in this amazing two-day exhibit called Earthworks.

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

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Artful Gathering, Artful Abstraction

180 wingsAs you might guess, I’m excited to be teaching at Artful Gathering Online Art Retreats 2016, June 6 – July 17 and July 16 – August 26. The preseason kick-off includes the Artful Gathering annual Hop Contest.  I’m one of the featured  instructors this week! Just follow this link

These are the two uber-nifty classes I’m teaching for Artful Gathering – both designed by yours truly
A Story Within a Story: Narrative Collage Covers for your Personal Technology & Journals and The Mystical Cat Shaman. Be very afraid of that cat one – Meow!

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What’s in it for you, you ask?  When you join the class for just $85 each session, you get almost three hours of video instruction right from my studio, plus “live” feedback in our online classroom. And these workshops are never “sold out.”

This is my third year with Artful Gathering, and I wasn’t sure how it all worked when I first started. But it’s very cool! And you can come to class in your PJs! Registration opens on May 1st. Hope to see you at Artful Gathering!

smNow – –  on to ARTFUL ABSTRACTION.

Wednesday’s workshop, Abstract Acrylic Exploration, was hard work – just ask any of the participants! Painting from an abstract perspective is like walking a tightrope without a net – there are no representational objects to look at. You are on your own, trusting the process and making decisions every moment while trying not to over-think. It’s tough.

I am so proud of their results! Each of the students had the same guidelines (layers, textures, limited palette with just two colors on a 12×12″ canvas) but individuality ruled! Take a look at these amazing abstracts – intricate, passionate, personal – nice work, everyone!

5    3 7 4 1

 

 

2

8

6

Making stuff – a LOT o’ stuff

Hope your Thanksgiving was super – mine was blessedly relaxing – a real day off from work. For some reason, I had forgotten what it’s like to get ready for a studio sale since encaustic exhibits and guests artists have been my focus lately, but I was hard at work all day in the Studio Tuesday and Wednesday getting ready for Saturday’s Big Ol’ Sale with Lesta, Michelle, and Alison.

This morning I’m finishing up some earthenware pieces.  I’m especially excited about the new little “B Beautiful” dishes because a portion will go to The Honeybee Conservancy for research to combat Colony Collapse and ensure that the bees will continue to thrive and produce honey and beeswax. Can’t do encaustic without beeswax. Can’t enjoy a sopaipilla without honey! Here’s a preview of the B Beautiful dishes. They are a perfect size for rings, paper clips, cough drops, hearing aids (what?), jelly beans – and at just $10 each, they make lovely hostess gifts for a cause:

bdozen1

Other pieces I’ve been making are be-ribboned Encantos (charms) and HeartShard Blessing holders (larger wall-hung clay pockets). All are made from fired clay and enhanced with sari silk ribbon. Here are some of those – I especially like the new ivory ones from white clay……

Finally, I’ve created some new pendants and face shards – some are strung as necklaces and some are loose, ready for you to play with.

home2 pendants

If you’re in San Antonio, don’t let the predicted cold weather keep you away from the Big Ol’ Art Sale – it will be cozy in the Studio and there will be lots of beautiful art and tasty refreshments. OK, back to work!! See you tomorrow, 10-4 at the Studio!

 

 

 

2016 Spring Workshops open for registration

bannerworkshop

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!!

 

Hey, look – this might turn out OK after all . . . dang!

I love teaching art. Actually, you can’t really teach art, but you can be an art coach and encourage the art that’s already inside someone to come out and play!

This afternoon, my friend Mary worked with me at the Studio on abstract painting. We started with a mj1hard task – saving some unsave-able paintings. In this example, we began with a background that had been painted in the last class but didn’t have much direction. First step was to make some random scribble marks right on top of the painting (left). Eek! 

But that gave us permission to really get into revising it, layering paint, scraping back into it, adding texture. There were a number of times when neither of of thought we were going anywhere, but we kept trusting the process. Mary was fearless in following my suggestions – brave woman. She added many of her own good ideas as we worked back and forth. Here are some pictures – the last photo is the finished piece. I love what she did!

Ya just have to Trust the Process (and read the book by that name). Which means – keep trying, add paint, subtract paint, keep listening to what the painting is telling you. Making art is HARD, but so rewarding! Great work, Mary – high fives!