Bill Bristow – artist, mentor, friend – visits the Art League

Art Professor Bill Bristow with his 1961 painting, Cherry Tree in Snow,

Former Trinity University Art Professor Bill Bristow with his 1961 painting, Cherry Tree in Snow, at the opening of the “Visions of Summer” exhibit on June 18th, 2017

The year was 1961, and a young professor, new to Trinity University, won the prestigious Onderdonk Purchase Prize at the San Antonio Art League and Museum. And this past Sunday, that remarkable fellow – Bill Bristow – came back to the Art League for an exhibit called “Visions of Summer,” which featured his painting. It was a thrill to see him there. He was my art professor at Trinity and influenced me more than any other teacher.

One of the advantages of getting to curate a show from the SAALM Permanent Collection is choosing paintings by my favorite artists! And many people who were at the opening we just as delighted to see him as I was.

I’m definitely not the only one who loves Bill Bristow – there are legions of successful artists and other creative Trinity grads who love this man. John Hartwell of Hartwell Studio Works in Atlanta who graduated in ’91 says:

“Bill Bristow, department of art, was a phenomenal mentor at Trinity – encouraging and generous with his time. Much of what I teach is based on Bill’s teaching talent. It’s how I learned to teach creative arts.”

Bristow and I have kept in touch since my undergrad days, and he came out of retirement a couple of years ago to teach several workshops at my old studio.

Bill’s paintings are included in the private collections of the late John Connally and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Longview Art Museum. A veteran of sixteen major exhibits from Texas to New York, Bristow has been a prolific painter whose artistic observations appeal to a wide variety of viewers and collectors.

Can you tell I like this man? I’m sure you all have had a special teacher in your life, too.

I invite you to come to the San Antonio Art League and Museum between now and July 30th to see the entire exhibit, “Visions of Summer.” There are two upstairs galleries filled with images of trees, but Bill Bristow’s is the one dearest to my heart.

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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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Behind the scenes for today’s workshop

It’s true – I usually show you workshops videos after the fact, but I thought it would be fun to check in BEFORE the workshop to show you how I work up a prototype.

Today’s upcoming workshop is called NeoSantos, and yesterday I played around in the studio with some ideas for construction.

Here’s the workshop description:

NEOSANTOS are small persomal icons that hang in your sacred space to bring you blessings.
“Santos” are found throughout many cultures. Some are primitive, some are very sophisticated, but all are sacred.

The Project – create a personal Neo (‘new”) Santo with your own intuitive creativity for yourself or as a blessing for another person.

The Process – Construct a neosanto sculpture on canvas using found objects, shard faces, paint and mixed media.

The Goal – Learn the secrets of 3-D construction on canvas while exploring your own sacred symbols.

I consulted my written outline, then I assembled some simple materials.

First step – painting an 8×10″ canvas that has writing and scribbles and scumbled acrylic paint for the background. This is set aside.

Second step – wrapping two small pieces of archival mat board in handmade mulberry paper using glue sticks.

Next step – attaching the two wrapped shapes together with gool ol’ hot glue.

Next Step – playing around with collage elements – in this case, narrow strips of paper.

Next – adding some unusual textures – in this case, a torn strip of a prayer flag from Tibet.

Next step – more stuff!! More acrylic paint to veil the collage elements, trying out different materials – you know, all the fun things.

  Next – lay a small earthenware face onto the construction to see where it’s headed – do I like it? Not completely, but I’m not finished. And the face isn’t attached yet so I can change it any way I like.

At this point, I’m going to stop with this prototype and when the workshop participants arrive this afternoon, I’ll show it to them, explain  how I did it so far, then ask for suggestions. It’s a great way to work collaboratively.

I’ll take pictures during today’s workshop and make a little video for you to see the results. Stay tuned!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

PS – The response to the Talisman Workshop eBook has been overwhelming! I’m making little talisman faces as fast as I can – thank you thank you!!

 

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Hot off the virtual press – the Talisman workshop eBook

Happy May Day! I wanted to get this eBook up and available by May 1, and — tah dah — it’s ready! This is my first “workshop” eBook, and, hopefully, it has the feel of being right there in my studio with me.

Beeswax, Clay, Paper & Fiber Talismans is an interactive PDF eBook that you download instantly from my Etsy shop. There are eight videos, including two on making the waxed paper beads, along with a whole bunch of instructions and resources.

As you read along, you can click on the video link and watch it, then return to the page. It’s a pretty cool format. If you’ve ever downloaded instructional mixed media eBooks like 21 Secrets, it’s the same idea. The book belongs to you to read and watch as many times as you want to.

Here’s a look at the table of contents – the pages are hyperlinked to each section and each video.

This Talisman workshop is based on the one I did in Washington State with Joanna Powell Colbert, described here in an earlier post. I talk about that here in the intro to the workshop from Page 8 in the Talisman eBook.

Introduction to the Talisman eBook from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.


When you buy the eBook, you also get a discount on two talisman faces from my Etsy shop. But you don’t need these specific faces to make the Talisman – it’s just an option. I have never believed that you should have to have a specific brand or proprietary item to create a successful art project.

Workshops are a two-way communication, and if you get the Talisman eBook I will be here to answer any follow-up questions or take any suggestion that you think would make this book better. Just send an email to lyn@lynbelisle.com. If I use your suggestion in a revision, I’ll credit you in the acknowledgments and send you the newly revised version for free. The nice thing about interactive eBooks is that they are easily edited.

You can get the Talisman eBook from my website, where you can also find the Encaustic eBook and all of my instructional DVDs, or you can go directly to my Etsy shop to purchase it. The book with videos is $18 and if you want two of the faces as well, they are only $7 for two with the purchase of the book. Such a deal 🙂

This has been a fun project – and it has helped me get more organized! Thanks for all of the encouragement on this. And it sure is nice to be back in Texas on such a beautiful day! Vacations are fun, but there’s no place like home.

 

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New! Workshop eBooks! First one coming soon!

sold out

One of the most frustrating things that has happened since I downsized my studio last year is having to tell friends that the workshops are sold out. I mean, it’s sorta good, since it means that people like them (yay, thanks!!) but I want to share some of my favorite workshops, old and new, with everybody.

The other really nice thing that has happened is that I’m being asked to come do workshops in far-away places that I can’t easily arrange. Penny from Australia recently emailed after seeing my Talisman workshop with Joanna Powell Colbert:   “What would it take to get you to Perth to take a class or two??? Maybe I can arrange it….I’d love to make the talisman. They are wonderful!”

So here’s what I decided – what if I take the workshops to YOU? I have to plan them and do demos beforehand anyway, so I might as well video them while I’m doing it. They’ll be fun for people who can’t get into the in-person workshops (like Penny), and they will be a good review for those who have already worked with me. And they’d be cheaper than the in-person workshops.

I got to work, and TAH DAH – here’s a preview of the first Lyn Belisle Workshop eBook! This one is based on the class I did for Joanna in Washington:

covereboox

This one is almost finished. It has eight sections of step-by-step instructions and photos on making the mixed-media Talisman. It has eight short Vimeo videos of me showing you how to do stuff (including my usual goofy comments). And it has resources on where to get everything you need for the workshop.

page 2

I’ll sell the eBook for $18 at my Etsy shop, the same place that I sell the Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage Book. And if some of the materials that are optional for the eBook project are at my Etsy shop, there will be a discount for those. For example, the Talisman Faces usually sell for $13 a pair, but if you buy the eBook, you can get the “special bookie” price of $7 a pair. (Those faces are all sold out at moment, but I plan to make more when  the eBook becomes an international best seller and the demand for shard faces skyrockets – YAHAHA. )

OK, back to reality – this is an experiment, I’m having fun with it, and I hope you like the idea. As far as this book’s availability, it should be finished by this coming Monday.

If it’s a success, I’ll plan on more Lyn Belisle Workshop eBooks in the very near future, probably starting with the NeoSanto Workshop so you’ll get to join in the fun even if it is sold out.

neosold

So what do you think? Thoughts? Suggestions? Dire warnings?? Thanks, as always, for following me on SHARDS, and stay tuned for the Talisman Workshop eBook release on Monday!

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Back from a week in the wilds of Washington

DSCN6941

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.

beadsbanner

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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Who owns your work – and where did you find that photo, pal??

copyright

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the torturous, mind-bending subject of copyright in the digital age to an audience of first-rate artists at the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts.

Copyright issues are of particular importance to artists  – one, because a visual artist’s work can be so easily copied and distributed digitally these days, and, two, because most artists use or take photos as reference sources or use them in mixed-media pieces.

The presentation was limited by time and scope, but I created a Power Point slide show to illustrate some specifics. For this blog, I converted it to a video (who knew you could do that?? Live and learn!) because I wanted to share the presentation with you guys. It works just like a regular Power Point, but if you want to read a slide, you need to pause it. Of course, you won’t hear my not-so-brilliant comments, but you can get the main points.

Many thanks to Charlotte Cox and the Coppini for inviting me to present! It gave me a chance to brush up on those points that I used to teach at Trinity University in my Computer Science class. And, as I said in the summary, below, copyright is a slippery subject, rather like trying to nail Jell-o to a wall.

chectsheet

So get out there, create, and Steal Like an Artist – but respect the laws of copyright!

 

 

 

 

What do you have to say to yourself?

That was the question in yesterday’s workshop at the studio called “Postcards to Myself.”

It’s a new workshop, one that I designed to see if we, as artists, create unconscious messages to ourselves as we work on art pieces that combine random images and text. The small works that were produced were amazingly lyrical, and many did seem to have meaningful messages.

The project itself was done in seven stages on an 11×14″ sheet of archival matboard.

  • Stage One – images and objects
  • Stage Two – veiling
  • Stage Three – vintage text chosen randomly
  • Stage four – enhancement and alteration
  • Stage five – selection
  • Stage six – wax or acrylic medium
  • Stage Seven – interpretation

When the collage layers were complete, 4×6″ post-card size areas were selected with transparent plexiglass rectangles. Those were cut out, and then finished either with beeswax or acrylic mat medium. We even wrote notes to ourselves on the backs of our “postcards.”

postcard

In the example above, this postcard-size section from the larger work shows faces from two different cultures and contains words such as “separate,” “restrain,” and “ruin.” It sounds like a trailer for a mini-drama! And yet it’s a completely coincidental juxtaposition within the larger collage.

We had such fun and learned so much from this project. I’ll definitely repeat it, and will probably create an eBook with with a list of materials and instructions. In the meantime, please enjoy the video from “Postcards to Myself.”

By the way, the first prototype postcard I did included text that said “eat one’s words” – so I was very careful about what I said during our critique!

proto

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First time’s a charm. . .yay!

Yesterday was the first workshop at the new studio. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me test-drive the space as a workshop venue (Lesta, Peggy, Claire, Mary, Rosemary, Mary Beth, Silvia, Cecelia). Not only did they give me great suggestions about workshop logistics in the new space, they also did some fantastic collage work!

The workshop itself  was called Intuitive Photocollage. We created mixed media collages using images, paint and other very simple elements to enhance our art practice through visual storytelling. The main goal was to examine how our intuitive choices influenced the process and to understand why we chose certain placements or values.

It was totally cool to see the differences in each person’s work, even when they used exactly the same images and materials – check out the video.

The Process – tear images from magazines and arrange them using Lyn’s AB3s of composition as your guideline. Veil, conceal and reveal the images with loosely applied acrylic paint, stamps, stencils and other collage elements.

The Goal – achieve an intriguing balance of images and paint strokes enhance by mixed media techniques for both a finished work and as an extension into other art forms.

collage1

I gave everyone an A+ on both their helpful suggestions for the studio and on their intriguing artwork.

studio2The new studio is an intimate space, more like a home that a storefront. The test-drive participants suggested that workshops be limited to six people, and I agreed. We had eight yesterday, and while everyone worked beautifully together, six is a better number for both getting around in the space and getting personal attention. It may make getting into a workshop a little harder, but we’ll be more comfortable!

studio-1

Other than that, most things will stay the same. The tuition fee is still $65 for three hours, and I plan to continue providing most, if not all, materials.

We’ll have plenty of room to work with encaustics as well as other mixed media projects, including air-dry clay and other 3-D media.  And I can’t wait to create paintings and collages in my very own studio room next to the workshop space!

07

So, yay! I’m looking forward to creating some interesting new workshops in 2017 that will help you in your art practice. The first one will be called Postcards to Myself.

That’s the Monday workshop report! In the meantime, you’re invited to the Carver Cultural Center this Thursday from 5-7 pm for the opening of a wonderful exhibit of magical realism works sponsored by GAGA (Gentileschi Aegis Gallery Association). I’m proud to be a part of it! Hope to see you there.

entrada

 

 

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Friday resources, mostly free, all fabulous

But first, before we get to those resources, wanna hear a story? OK, so I needed to find a home for a wonderful easel that Nancy Powlas had given me several years ago. It had belonged to her late sister, and I loved it, but didn’t have room for it in my new studio space. When I got it, it was bent at the back, so I took a rubber mallet and whacked it straight.

Some arty intuition told me to call Lesta Frank to see if she would like it. She came to look at it and said, “Hey, I used to have an easel just like that that I gave away 17 years because it was bent, but I always regretted giving it up.”

And of course, as all good stories go, it turned out to be the very same easel that Lesta had given up and was now returned to her from the Mysterious Art Universe.

lesta

Lesta and easel, reunited at last

So now on to these free resources, most of which are image goldmines for mixed-media artists and designers.

The first one is Pixabay, which has a searchable index of thousands of copyright-free photos and illustrations. I did a search for “rust” and found this beauty – look at the colors and textures! Thanks to Leannah Kurtin Fulmer for reminding me of Pixabay.

rust

The second resource, Unsplash, came to me via Ivy Newport, an imaginative, inspiring and successful artist and teacher – she has curated a collection of portrait photos at Unsplash that are gorgeous. The photos at Unspalsh are offered without restriction – their motto is “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.” Wow. Here’s one from Ivy’s collection – just think of all the ways you could use this evocative face.

woman

Another photo resource, also free, is Noah Bradley’s Free Photo Reference Megapack. Noah Bradley is an artist and fantasy author who is building an amazing illustrated world called The Sin of Man. He has photos from all over the world to download and use as backgrounds and reference. I downloaded his American Southwest collection and his France and England collection – they are huge albums.

Here are two examples from those collections.

england southwest

The last resource was suggested to me by my friend Linda Krantz. a wonderfully perceptive artist from Houston who was in my class at Vivi Magoo a couple of weeks ago. It’s called MadRat Rubbergreat name. While they don’t have free images, they have the most original and amazing stamps and other cool stuff for mixed-media artists.madrat

Here’s onenot your everyday stamp design, right? And their prices are very competitive, plus you can get them mounted or unmounted.

So now you have lots of places to get inspiration. Print out the photos, tear them up and collage them, stamp into them, veil them with paint and scribble over the paint. That’s going to be the first workshop at the new studio – Intuitive Photocollage!

And if you know a bit of digital imagery manipulation, you can work on you computer to combine these resources into something totally new – like this!

memory

Happy weekend –  if you’re in San Antonio, bundle up – it’s finally gonna feel like Thanksgiving weather. Thanks, as always, for reading SHARDS.

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