New! Workshop eBooks! First one coming soon!

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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??

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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Round Top Report – Vivi Magoo at the Prairie

Historic Round Top home

The little town of Round Top, Texas (Pop. 1200) is friendly, charming, and enjoying an artistic Renaissance. I returned there this week to teach at the Vivi Magoo Art Retreat on the Prairielucky me!

When you go there, check out the Round Top Inn –  that’s where I got to stay. The Inn is really a collection of vintage farmhouses and cottages set on lovely grounds framed by oak trees and guarded by a huge furry black cat.

The main house porch

The breakfasts are yummy, too – organic and locally sourced. Here’s my Wednesday morning plate, a fresh tomato tart and sausage. Drool.

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I taught two all-day workshops, The Beauty of Beeswax: Behind the Vintage Veil (which includes collage composition and basic encaustic techniques) and Fabulous Fusion: Wax, Earthenware and Fiber Talismans (which included mold making, wax on earthenware, and assemblage techniques).

Here are two of the demos I did during those classes – you can get the idea of what we worked on from these photos:

Lyn Belisle: "Frisky Nun"

Lyn Belisle: “Frisky Nun”

Lyn Belisle: Wax, Earthenware, Fiber Talisman

Lyn Belisle: Wax, Earthenware, Fiber Talisman

But the real fun of these Vivi Magoo retreats is, of course, watching the students get excited by the process and create breathtaking work.  I am so happy when they take the methods I teach, adapt them for themselves, and then use them in their own spectacularly individual ways.

As you watch this video of both my all-day workshops, pay attention to the different directions that the participants take in their finished pieces. I always tell them there is more than one right answer, and each of them found a brilliant one.

To make the experience totally perfect, beautiful Barb Solem, the Vivi Magoo founder, invited me back for next year – yay! It was the best ending possible to a wonderful three days in Round Top, Texas.

Dixie and Karen make talisman magic!

Dixie and Karen make talisman magic!

Henkel Hall, where the workshops were held

Goodbye, Henkel Hall – see you next year!

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Wax and Words – no worries, everything worked!

After a month away from teaching workshops, I was a little fearful about starting off the new sessions with something I hadn’t done before, a class called Words and Wax. It was inspired by some of Nancy Crawfords beautiful Love and Gratitude encaustic series pieces.

Nancy Crawford, 4x4", Even More Love and Gratitude

Nancy Crawford, 4×4″, Even More Love and Gratitude

I wanted to emphasize the mark-making within the words, so I designed a four-layer process that involved ink, stencils, graphite and stamping as the initial approach,followed by the addition of beeswax, and incising into that. The results were wonderful, thoughtful, accidental but purposeful. Please see what the students did in the video below.

I’m happy to share with you the general outline of the class in case you want to play around with this idea. You can find the steps here.


Postscript:

Ironically, just as I was writing this post about words, I received some sad news about the death of an old friend and consummate man of words, Professor John Igo. John was a San Antonio educator, writer, artist, photographer, producer, and critic. He kept us all on the straight and narrow path with our word usage in his delightful radio program called Grammar Gripes.

John leaves a legacy that is wide and deep across the arts and letters community – he will be greatly missed.

John Igo

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What a weekend – high fives all around

I absolutely love showing off my students’ work, and this weekend I had two workshop opportunities to give a round of high fives!

Saturday, the talented Karen McCauley, artist and teacher at the Coppini Academy, brought her group over to the studio for three hours of encaustic  collage exploration. Here are some of the details of their work – notice the depth and texture that the beeswax layers produce. (Remember, if you can’t see the photo gallery, click on the top of this post to take you to the original site)

Lots of people ask me about the foil that produces those fine gold lines – encaustic artists call it “Book Foil.” I learned about it from Michelle Belto. You can order it under other names, including this one from Amazon. Just remember, it takes a few layers of wax to make it stick to the surface of your work.

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On Sunday, I taught an acrylic painting workshop inspired by some of the techniques I learned with Jane Davies at our Big Fat Art Weekend – line, shape, texture pattern, layering (thanks, Jane!).

This was not an easy workshop to grasp, particularly for beginning painters who had just three hours to practice the process. but they did it! The abstract acrylic studies they produced are beautifully symbolic and richly constructed over layers of marks and color history. Take a look!

I am convinced that there is some sort of magic synergy that takes place at the Studio when a group gathers for a three-hour workshop. The students never fail to amaze me – and themselves – with their insightful artwork. They help make Lyn Belisle Studio a true place of creative belonging, and, dang, am I grateful! Good work, everyone – what a winner of a weekend!

 

 

 

Jane Davies workshop, Day Two

Today’s workshop was as intense and enjoyable as yesterday’s, and we all worked just as hard. Jane had us build on yesterday’s foundation paintings, adding more shapes, lines, veils and pattern. She focused on contrasts of scale, value and hue. It was tough to paint over our previous hard work, but it resulted in growth and options – and a bit of good-natured grumbling.

Jane strongly suggests beginning with a list of elements to explore and use that to get into the piece until the process itself takes over. She has many techniques to help move the painting forward, and a lot of those can be found right here on her website, but working with her in person is amazing. She also plays a mean ukulele – we painted to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Take a look at some of today’s photos to see how we are progressing. As to where we’ll end up . . .it’s a mystery – but tomorrow is our last day! Stay tuned, y’all.