Imaginary friends, bossy inspirations

Human faces and figures, ancient or contemporary, fascinate me as summaries of life stories in the moment. The longer I work as an artist, the more focused my work seems to be on interpretations of those themes.

Clay, paper, beeswax, and fiber are my instinctive, beloved media, all of which lend themselves to representations of faces and figures as small sculptures, spirit dolls, and earthenware faces.

Below are two of the latest little figures (sticks, clay, found objects) which I just dropped off at Marta Stafford’s gallery in Marble Falls. They are called “StarSeason” (top) and “Pastime” (bottom)

Creating an assembled piece related to human form is different from creating an abstract painting – there’s still a lot of intuition, technique, and trust involved, but these small sculptures seem to function as creative “guides.”

It’s easier to tell what element a figurative assemblage “wants” than it is to tell what color a painting “wants,” at least to me. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird.

I discovered this when I started teaching Spirit Doll workshops a decade or so ago, and then re-learned it in the latest Spirit Doll workshop, now up on Teachable.

If you look at the second lesson in the Spirit Doll workshop (which is a free preview) you’ll see how a bunch of stick almost pull themselves together to become something with strong opinions and a personality! It’s really fun to be involved in that process.

I remember when I was putting this piece (below) together a couple of months ago (it’s kind of a cross between mixed-media sculpture and Spirit Doll), I felt strongly guided on what to do next. For example – when it came time to represent the hair, she wanted horsehair.

I didn’t even know I had any horsehair, but then I remembered that a friend had brought me some a long time ago at my old studio. I finally found a hank of pale, coarse horsehair in a buried Ziploc, and used it. The sculpture/spirit doll was right! Nothing else would have worked!

Then there’s Mojo Woman, who wanted everything but the kitchen sink – I listened to her, too – not sure about this one 🙂 See how smug she looks with all that stuff?

Anyway, join the new Spirit Doll workshop if you need a new imaginary best friend who can be a bit bossy. But if you don’t like having somebody telling you what to do, you may regret it!

Take good care,

Lyn

 

Pretty Paper Pendant Pockets

In the spirit of keeping calm, carrying on, and surviving all this together, I’ve created a new online workshop for you. It’s called Pretty Paper Pendant Pockets, and if you enjoyed the Lotus Book class, you’ll love this one.

And, yes, it’s free. This is another mixed-media/paper project from me to you that makes a beautiful gift for friends.

PS – there’s a bonus lesson on aromatherapy and creativity!

Here’s where to enroll

And here are more pictures –

Please be safe, and have a happy, creative weekend!

♥Lyn

 

Lifting spirits with little gifts of art

Have you noticed that little gifts mean even more in tough times? I’m not sure I ever realized that before the “Age of COVID” smacked us all around and left everybody’s crystal balls all fogged up. But some things never change, like creative thoughtfulness.
When I published my new eBook, Postcards to Myself, I wrote it primarily for individual artists (beginners and seasoned) who needed an engaging method to discover, curate, and record their best techniques.

But those artists have taken the “postcard” idea and run with it.
I just got this note from one of them:
Just wanted to let you know that I really got caught up in your class “Postcards to Myself”.  I never really understood how to do collage until I took this class.  I was gathering quite the stack of them and finally decided to share them. 
I wrote words of inspiration on the Mat board before I started the collage.  I put them in envelopes and sent them out to friends and those who might be needing a little bit of encouragement during this pandemic. 
Creating the art helped me immensely!  I probably send out between 75 and 100 of them.  What fun I’ve had! Thanks for teaching the class!
Niki W.
Here’s Niki’s work table with postcards in progress:
This email was totally unexpected – and frankly, pretty exciting! Who wouldn’t want an actual piece of art in the mail? Niki, you are the best!
Another “giving” idea (from me to you) is my free workshop called The Lotus Book. Currently, there are 111 artists enrolled in that class, watching the instructional videos, and creating these art books. In the Lotus Book workshop, I encourage you to make these little journals a gifts for others.
Here are some emails and examples that artists have sent to show me what they’re doing:
Hi, Lyn,
I just finished my first lotus book! Thank you so much for a wonderful time, for sharing your creativity with all of us. Here are the pics.  Not the greatest, had to use a cat snoozie for a background and the light wasn’t quite right, but you’ll get the idea.Seems like a win-win during this Pandemic time. Stay safe! ~ Kate 
This book, from Anna, has such great pattern coordination – lucky someone, whoever gets this one!
And this note, from Carolyn, combines the Postcard book techniques with the Lotus Book! Brilliant!

 

Hi Lyn,
I’m having so much fun watching your classes and then working on the projects.  The first two photos are of the Lotus book.  I had cut out some 4×4 pieces from some scrap from the Postcards to Myself class and decided they would look great applied to a Lotus book.  The third photo is from the Postcards to Myself class but without the wax. They’re just the inspiration and distraction l needed. ~ Carolyn

 

My job in all of this is to encourage you to create with a purpose – creative thoughtfulness is a win-win.

 

Here’s the ink to the free Lotus Book workshop.

And here’s the link to the Postcard book – it’s not free but it’s  very affordable and will reward you will much gratitude fro your friends who are graced with your mail art!

 

Trust yourself, trust the process, and take good care this week –

 

Lyn

 

What the heck IS an “Interactive eBook,” anyway ???

I’m happy-dancing about the reviews for my bestselling interactive eBook, Postcards to Myself.  It’s the perfect way to practice your art when in-person workshops aren’t possible.

But what the heck is an “Interactive eBook” and how does it work??

Basically, you purchase a PDF file of the book here, download it to your own computer, read it at your own pace, and follow the embedded links to see the workshop videos in whatever order and how ever many times that you want.. Watch this short explanation!

Video Link – What is an Interactive eBook?

Here’s how the online purchase process works. It’s super-safe and super-easy – watch this.

Video Link – Buying and Downloading an Interactive eBook

Now, let’s say that the worst happens – you pay for the book, but it somehow gets lost in the download or you can’t find the file. Just email me, and I will send you a new copy as an attachment. But I seriously doubt you’ll run into trouble with the download.

Click here for more about Postcards to Myself, including the purchase link

If you’ve never used an Interactive eBook, I’d love to have you start with Postcards to Myself, of course 🙂 Here are reviews from artists who are trying this “postcard” method of mixed-media compositions just so you’ll know it’s working for people who are downloading it:

  • Great idea, wonderful instructor. This is more than an eBook, it’s a class! (Eva Macie)
  • Lyn, you are an incredibly generous teacher! I felt like I was getting a front row seat as you shared your various processes and let me even watch how you fixed a piece that didn’t work out like you had planned. I just loved this class.  (Linda Harris)
  • If you enjoy making collages and if you have time to work on some collage projects, my friend Lyn Belisle is a wonderful artist who wrote an e-book on making collages. It is called “Postcards to Myself” — https://www.lynbelisle.com/ebooks.html I have gone through the first part of her e-book and here is a photo of my first collage. I used photos of my mother in the 1920’s. (Linda Moody)

Linda Moody, Tulsa, OK

As a life-long teacher, I think this “postcard method” is a fun way to discover your potential for doing your best work. You don’t need fancy materials, and you’ll find lots of “right answers” in your creative experimentation.

So that’s how Interactive eBooks work. I think they are a great way to learn because they are a combination of words and videos that you can return to time and time again.

Thanks for making Postcards to Myself so successful. I’d love to hear from you! Stay safe, trust yourself, and trust the process.

♥Lyn

Workshop Update – Meow

THE MYSTICAL CAT SHAMAN IS BACK!

The Mystical Cat Shaman Workshop was first offered in 2016 as part of the Artful Gathering summer class program. When the Artful Gathering group scattered, I decided to bring this popular class back to a new audience.

The NEW Cat Shaman workshop will be available until August 1, 2020 for $39 tuition, which is about half of its previous cost. In this new version, I have updated the handouts and added to them. The videos, for the most part, are the original ones, almost three hours of detailed instruction.

You can read more about it on my website. There is a free lesson from the workshop available that might help you decide if you want to create some feline magic. Ask your cat if she wants to help. Yeah, right 🙂

Click here for the CAT SHAMAN WORKSHOP info.

And there are new Cat Face Shards in my Etsy Shop!

If you decide to take the workshop, I will show you how to make your own cat faces, step-by-step, using about four or five different techniques. That’s always the best way to do it, learning for yourself.

But if you want to purchase some Cat Shaman from my Etsy shop, great!

I’ve added some new cat faces using the mold I made in the the original workshop. They are kiln-fired earthenware and they come in three finishes. They’re $9 each and there is a limit of 2 (I have only 30 right now).

You may find that they are sold out when you go to the Etsy shop. I sent an advance notice to my private email list last night, and the cats are going like hotcakes. 🙂

However, I’m making more earthenware cat faces today and they should be fired and  ready to go by Saturday. I’ll re-list them ASAP. (And if you’d like to be on my email list for previews and updates, you’re welcome to sign up).

Last note – I’m finally internalizing the reality of these times. Sigh. It’s going to be a long summer and fall without in-person interaction.

As a social creature and an artist who cherishes the company of my circle of friends and co-creators, I miss the times we could really look at each other’s work, touch the textures, laugh and hug in person.

But if there was ever a time to count our blessings, this is it. Be safe, trust yourself and trust the process, and take good care!

Abstraction/Non-Objective: the emancipation of the mind ?

I had the great pleasure of working with five friends, all whom create artwork that I admire, in an abstract painting workshop at my Studio last Friday.

From left: Pamela Ferguson, Bibi Saidi, Carolyn Royall, Robin Gara – not pictured: Nancy Vandenburg

Part of the fun was sharing thoughts about abstraction and non-objective painting. Here’s one of my favorite quotes written by Arshile Gorky:

“Abstraction allows man to see with his mind
what he cannot physically see with his eyes…
Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible,
to extract the infinite out of the finite.
It is the emancipation of the mind.
It is an explosion into unknown areas.” 

Emancipating one’s mind is a tough assignment. It’s human nature to try to direct the outcome of our work, and it’s difficult to let go of that control. We followed a “map” of steps to an unknown outcome. You can download the workshop outline here to see how we painted our abstract studies.

I try to develop a slightly different plan of attack for each painting workshop. Individual students react in different ways to techniques that get them to break the ice on a blank canvas. But we almost always start with mark-making, usually asemic writing.

It’s super-important to agree at the beginning that we will not create a masterpiece in three hours, but we might learn some new approaches to making meaningful paintings. Here are some of the first stages or our warmup:

And here are some in the second stage:

When you watch the video, you can see what some of our results were – all interesting! Several of the artists said that they were out of their comfort zone, but pleased with the final outcome, which may be the whole point!

Video Link

For further study, you can read a good explanation of Abstraction in Art from the Tate Museum.

Thanks for reading SHARDS – and remember, if you and a group of four or five friends  would like to organize a workshop at my studio, just send me an email!

Gray Friday – sorta like Black Friday, but with a reward after the commercial

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and instead of running around shopping, I’m enjoying a gray rainy Friday just writing and rambling.

In this SHARDS post, you’ll find:

  • 1. An idea for my next eBook
  • 2. A Black Friday commercial (well, a Gray Friday one)
  • 3. A reward of a free air-dry clay technique demo

1. I’m thinking about air-dry clay. I started a book on this topic a couple of years ago and somehow let it lapse, but now I believe it’s time to make it into an eBook with videos, coming early next year.

I even have a cover and a title for the air-dry clay book (subject to change – like I said, this idea started a couple of years ago)!

What do you think? Would it make a good eBook with videos? It has unlimited possibilities for mixed media and fiber artists.The good thing about air-dry clay is that you don’t need a kiln, and many of the newer paper clays and polymer clays are very permanent and durable. And they even take beeswax!

So with all of this in mind, I’m going to give you a FREE SAMPLE of an easy air-dry clay process – a downloadable handout on how to transfer an image to a thin slab of air-dry clay. 

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2. But first, you have to promise to read the following commercial and not just skip to the end. Here goes:

I’m teaching a brand new online workshop about Origami Kimono construction with a group called Mystic Springs Studios in their year-long Artwalk Alchemy 2020. The kimono workshop is cool. You will love it. And when you buy the Artwalk Alchemy 2020 subscription, you get my workshop plus 23 others that look good too. I know some of the other artists, including Anne Marie Fowler who heads the program, and the projects look intriguing.

Anyway, for this weekend only, you can get a discount on the ArtWalk Alchemy 2020 classes.

You can click on the image above to go to the class description, or just click HERE.

I’ll be around when the Art Walk classes start to answer your questions and give feedback, as well as post photos of your work – so save $10 and sign up now!

And while I am in commercial mode, you can shop for my three existing eBooks (the first two with videos) just to see how they work. All have great reviews, if I do say so my own self 🙂  Here they are:

WAX & WORDS: An exploration of asemic writing, words, mark making and images enhanced with beeswax encaustic layers and gold foil – with nine videos

Beeswax, Clay, Paper and Fiber Talismans – with videos!

Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage

The upcoming air-dry clay eBook should be a good addition to this collection.

END OF COMMERCIALS – START OF FREEBIE!

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3.  Your free technique demo from the upcoming eBook – the photos below show an inkjet image printed on plain copier paper that has been transferred onto a thin slab of air-dry clay.

The second photo show the complete sample with more clay and mixed-media elements added.

Acrylic transfer on air-dry clay in progress

Completed sample – inkjet image transfer on air-dry clay with cold finishes

Here is all you need to do this image transfer technique – acrylic medium and air-dry clay (and an image, of course). I’ve given you two links to the products, but the materials are available at more than these two places. I have found that these two brands work best, but you can certainly experiment.

Delight Air Dry Clay

Golden Fluid Matte Medium

And here’s how:

4. BUT WAIT – THERE’S MORE!

If you’re interested in air-dry clay, regular clay, photos of clay, collages about clay, etc., etc., don’t forget to enter the Texas Clay 20/20 Vision juried show at the San Antonio Art League!! It’s the best entry fee on the planet – only $10. Here are the details:

The deadline is December 12th, so shake a leg if you want to win that $500 first place award!!

 

 

 

Workshop report – painting is hard work!!

Imagine setting off on a path with lots of possible destinations and no map of where you were going – except for a possible clue at every intersection? That’s what happened to the participants in our Acrylic Abstract Painting Exploration workshop Wednesday. The phrase “trust the process” was the only compass on this journey toward a non-objective acrylic painting.

We did some warm-up paintings on 300# watercolor paper and practiced blending “no-colors” with a scumbling technique. Then we developed a compositional framework based on either a landscape or cruciform foundation.

When everybody seemed to be stalled, we laid out our work on a table and I prepared a big blog of Cadmium Red paint and told the hapless victims to add red paint to their work – anywhere they wanted, but it had to be red.

Wow! That was a jolt of energy. Everyone knew that they could paint over the red if they wanted to, but just that bright pop of color pointed at lots of new possibilities.

Some of the techniques we practiced going forward were:

  • Mark-making
  • Scraping
  • Lifting
  • Taping
  • Ombre stripes
  • Glazing
  • Stenciling
  • Texture
  • Object stamping
  • Veiled collage words

Each artist took a very different path, although when a technique worked particularly well, everyone gave it a try.

One thing that helped a lot was consistency – consistency of size (12 x 12″) and consistency of basic palette colors.

My friend Gwen Fox taught me that you could make a myriad of rich colors with just these three Golden acrylics:

These colors, plus white and Payne’s Gray (or black) create amazing and easy color harmonies.

Here are some details from the participants’ paintings that show these colors at work with a few added colors and some of the surface techniques:

Watch the Workshop Video (below) for further views of the paintings and the process. The participants were learners and risk-takers of the best kind!

VIDEO LINK

Thanks for reading – and watching!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

Pan of fired nekkid critters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DAY ONE – BUILDING THE ANIMALS

DAY TWO- COLD FINISHES AND COMPLETION

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

Let’s do it again next year!

 

 

 

 

 

Table for Six at my studio – come join us!

Once a month or so, I’m starting to offer small mixed-media workshops at my Olmos Park studio. They are held on Wednesday afternoons from 1-4. I call this informal series “Table for Six.”

There is a limit of six participants and registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis. You’re invited to sign up – you’ll learn something new and take home something interesting!

Here’s the upcoming lineup. Click on a title to read more and register.

LAYERED STORIES: ENCAUSTIC COLLAGE
(three spaces left at post time)
Wednesday, October 30th, 2019
1-4 pm

ABSTRACT ACRYLIC PAINTING
(four spaces left at post time)
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
1-4 pm

MIXED-MEDIA VOTIVE COLLAGE CARDS
(six spaces left at post time)
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
1-4 pm

All Table for Six workshops are $65 including materials, and, as mentioned, are held on Wednesday afternoons at my studio @ 515-5 E. Olmos Drive. As anyone who has been there can tell you, it’s a cozy, stress-free zone.

but wait, there’s more . . .

If you’d like a great intro to clay, Leslie Newton and I are teaching a ceramic  workshop called Spirit Animals at the San Antonio Art League on Saturday, October 26th and Saturday, OcNovember 2nd. Click on the image below for more about THAT one – it’ll be fun.  And who knows what will be revealed as YOUR Spirit Animal!

Workshops are about the power and comfort of the creative community, about making new personal statements and affirming individuality in a sharing, caring environment. Join in!