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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Goodbye, ol’ pal – CraftArtEdu closes doors, leaves freebies

Waaa-aay back in 2013, I wanted to learn how to teach online classes. CraftArtEdu was a place I’d heard of from another artist, so I emailed them and asked if they needed teachers. They told me to develop a proposal, and they’d give me 30% of the tuition (wow) that I earned.

So I designed a simple composition class that later became the AB3 System that I’ve taught at workshops all over the country.

In retrospect, CraftArtEdu wasn’t really a good fit for me since most of the classes were about polymer clay, but I learned how to upload lessons and how to create content. I didn’t earn much money at all, but I’ll always be grateful to them for what I learned in my first time out on the Internet.

Now they are closing their doors – but they are leaving behind a library of free intro classes on Vimeo that you might want to take a look at. Most of these are photo-based rather than video based. There’s still lots of good step-by-step information, though. For example:

You can check out all 166 of these freebies at this one link:

All of them are short, basic lessons that might give you some inspiration. I have to say, the video lessons and DVDs I’m doing now for Artful Gathering are a lot more rewarding, but you gotta start somewhere, and CraftArtEdu was that place for me.
Thanks, Donna and Vern! Adios!

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Revival! Workshop at the Art League studio opens new doors

Nine pioneering participants joined me on Sunday to test-drive the decades-old studio space at the San Antonio Art League & Museum.

Our workshop was called “Postcards to Myself” – it’s all about learning to trust the creative process without exactly knowing where it will take you – no preconceived notions allowed.

Here’s a little video of the intuitive work that the participants created during the three-hours session.

Lyn Belisle, “Postcards to Myself” -The First SAAL&M Workshop from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

The time together was fun and informative. One of the best parts was the feedback everyone gave about the space itself as a venue for workshops and art gatherings. We all are excited about its potential and had plenty of ideas for improving the old studio to make it even better. Our wish list so far . . . .

  • lots of skylights!
  • another bathroom!
  • more storage space!

I’m determined to find funding to make this studio space even more vibrant as it comes back to life. It would be a perfect place for guest artists, small lectures demonstrations, and beginning art classes. It’s already very accessible.

If you’re interested in attending another session of “Postcards to Myself” at the Art League Studio in the next month or so, send me an email. And stay tuned to what’s happening at The Studio of the San Antonio Art League & Museum by signing up for our newsletter here on our website.

 

 

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Wednesday all-day workshop with NEISD art teachers

The workshop schedule/format at my studio has changed for a number of reasons – smaller space, my increased responsibility as president of the San Antonio Art League, and just general life changes – but I’m always happy to accommodate special groups like yesterday’s art teachers from North East ISD.

They had requested an all-day session that would give them six hours of CEU credit and jump start their school year with some new ideas for themselves and their students. We decided on a workshop that was similar to the one I taught in Provincetown. It has a little bit of everything – composition, storytelling, photo manipulation, mark-making, encaustic and collage.

We worked hard from 10-4 in the studio, and each participant created a beautiful portfolio of four five mixed media works, one of which was chosen to be matted. Want to see photos from the day’s workshop? Start scrollin’ down and see it step-by-step!

Mixed media stash ready!

We prepare the substrate by taping the edges with blue painters’ tape for a clean border

Once the composition is in place, we veil with white paint

. . .and then use an old credit card to scrape off and reveal chosen sections

Notice how the placement of the objects makes a unified composition

Some quiet work time —

First works are pinned up to the wall for discussion – lookin’ good!

Suggestions are marked up on one of the example handouts

Melissa adds her work to the critique wall

There’s a lot of good image alteration in this one

One of my favorites – subtle and painterly

Although these pieces are studies rather than finished works, they are quite lovely

After lunch, we start working with beeswax, incorporating some simple encaustic techniques

Book foil is a bright addition to the wax layer

Remember this piece from the morning session? It’s layered with beeswax.

This mixed-media collage uses family photos and letters enhanced by beeswax

You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and you can make art without messing up a studio!

Each person chose one piece to may and display at the end-of-class critique

This is Melissa’s strong work that you saw earlier, this time with beeswax added – notice the vertical blue line and the fantastic marks

Grizelda pulled together a lovely collage of vintage family photos and memories

S’lena’s work is perfectly balanced between image and pattern – the faint writing in the background is a secret layer of history that only she knows

Susan’s work evokes Renaissance themes . . . it’s horizontal rather than vertical

This piece is mine, and is the demo piece I did as I worked along with the others

Happy art teachers, beautiful work, and proud teacher –

I think this workshop format is perfect, at least it was for us. It worked because:

  • We had all day to really explore and immerse ourselves – we even ate lunch at the work table and discussed the process
  • Four to five people is the right number for this space – good dynamics, intimate atmosphere
  • The workshop topic had lots of structure, but also lots of room for exploration with many techniques that could be extended into individual work

This may be the new workshop model at Lyn Belisle Studio. Let me know if you have a small group who might like to spend a day with me making art.

In the meantime, I’ll be teaching a “Postcards to Myself” workshop at the San Antonio Art League on Sunday, August 29th as a fundraiser and introduction to the Art League. I’ll put the details up this weekend and post it on Monday.

Special thanks to all of the teachers who worked with me yesterday – art education is in good hands with you to guide and mentor creative kids!

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A visit with Gwen Fox in Taos

Gwen Fox is an extraordinary woman whose abstract paintings glow with inner light and compelling composition. I first fell in love with her work about ten years ago in a gallery in Colorado Springs and knew I had to meet her. So I signed up several years later for Gwen’s week-long painting workshop in Taos and loved every moment. Here’s a post from that 2012 workshop.

Gwen and I and have kept in touch since then, sharing ideas and conversations online. Yesterday, while I was in Taos, NM for the day, I got to visit her in person again.

Lyn and Gwen Fox in her Taos studio in front of a current painting that Gwen has done in oils on canvas.

I was so excited to see the new studio that she built herself – it’s completely inspiring and spiritually satisfying – a perfect space in a perfect place. It’s adjacent to her adobe house.

Everything on the inside and the outside has its place.

The view from her serene bedroom window is as layered as her paintings.

The bathroom sink in the studio is made from a rectangular piece of agate that glows with a translucent abstract landscape when you’re there and, er, sitting down.

And against the walls, Gwen’s painting glow with a resonant energy —

She has a video setup in her studio that I covet.

And here is the most exciting news that I learned from Gwen – she is filming and producing an extensive online class about painting and creativity that sounds amazing.It should be ready this fall and it is the first time her techniques and teaching/coaching expertise will be available online.

Be sure and get on her mailing list to hear more about it and gt updates – I honestly can’t wait for it.

I could go on and on about how much Gwen has influenced my work and my outlook, but I’ll let the video of her home and studio, below, reflect her amazing spirit.

Look for all the little touches she pulls together like grace notes in this home and studio space – like an antique Chinese chest in the pantry because she wants to look at something beautiful when she’s in the kitchen.

Lyn Belisle visits Gwen Fox in her Taos home and studio from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

I’m headed back to Texas tomorrow but I always feel inspired when I spend time with Gwen. Do subscribe to her list and follow her wise advice for every artist.

There’s something else that inspired me while I was here – fly fishing! I‘ll tell you about that in an upcoming post. It was a total surprise.

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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