They found their wings. . .

. . . and, boy, did they soar! The women in yesterday’s class surpassed every expectation I had for our NeoSanto workshop, creating beautiful symbol-filled personal icons on canvas. And, as Robin said during our critique, “This is much more than just a canvas.”

I showed you the construction process in my last post, but what the students brought to it was the intangible sense of self. The idea of the NeoSanto is to interpret the traditional “santo” figure from the Southwest into a personal guardian. What resulted was one of the most meaningful art-making sessions and discussions that I can remember. I was honored to be there!

Take a look at their work in the video, below.

This may be the subject of the next workshop eBook! Many thanks to DeeDee, Pam, Robin, Marilyn and Lily for the amazing workshop synergy and generosity of spirit.

Up next – on to Artful Gathering! Meet me there in our virtual classroom – registration is open.

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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!

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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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In praise of nature

I’m lucky enough to live across the street from a woodland area, and when I go walking in the morning, my pockets are often filled with rocks or sticks or even little critter bones that I’ve picked up along the way.

These natural objects are like mysterious sentences in a story or lines in a poem without words. You do that, too – right?

Sometimes, these things end up in a big jar on my bookshelf, looking kinda creepy cool:

Jars of found nature objects on my bookshelves

Jars of found nature objects on my bookshelves – ok, so the face didn’t actually appear like that in nature 🙂

And sometimes, they end up in assemblages and little shrines.

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

Lyn Belisle: Nature Shrine

So when Zinnia at Artful Gathering told our faculty that we would be teaching nature-themed classes this summer, I was ecstatic!! Artful Gathering is my favorite “summer camp” and online creative community. Here’s the description of my Nature Shrine class:

Session Two: July 16 – August 26

Lyn Belisle will show you how to make small shrine-like assemblages created from serendipitous finds in natural settings. Through the power of storytelling with symbols, Lyn will show you how to construct natural elements enhanced with her iconic air-dry faces. You’ll combine rocks and shards, twigs, leaves to create a meaningful non-verbal story.Then, using unconventional construction methods such as knotting, wiring and wrapping, you will create diverse surfaces on little 6 x 6 canvases that can be displayed in a variety of ways.

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As part of the Artful Gathering fun, we’re having a Blog Hop. That means that somewhere on my blog page, there’s a secret word for you to collect. It’s not too far, and when you collect all of the words, you can win truly nifty prizes. The secret word is right around here, AND it’s easy ( wink). Click here for more about the Blog Hop.

But wait, there’s more! In the first AG session, I’m teaching an encaustic portrait class called Natural Expressions – here’s the info:

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Session One: June 6 – July 17
Lyn Belisle guides you through the steps for creating mixed media portraits with natural materials, including layered beeswax. You’ll learn how to enhance digital images, tinting, preparing small stretched canvas substrates for layered collage, assembling a wrapped mat around a canvas substrate as well as attaching natural objects to a mat and integrating them into the mixed media composition.

Obviously, I’d love to work with you in one or the other of these classes. We have an online classroom for questions and critiques and extra resources.

So here’s your homework:

1. See if you can find the “cleverly hidden” secret word to collect for the Blog Hop

2. Check out the Artful Gathering catalog to see the class offerings. Besides mine, there are some great classes by pals Debby Anderson, Michelle Belto, Monika Astara and Luthien Tye, among others.

3. Get out there in nature and collect a little object that calls to you and write a one-line poem about it!


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Whiter Shades of Pale – playing in the no-color zone

Lesta Frank has a ray gun – she brought it to our all-day Whiter Shades of Pale workshop yesterday, and when anyone “called color” on another person (like, they were reaching for some red paint), they got blasted with flashing lights and wild beeps. It was pretty funny!

The whole day was a delight, as a matter of fact. In the morning, we made beautiful pale papers under Lesta’s expert tutelage – ecru, ivory, palest gold and silver – all breathtaking. A favorite was the string-embedded paper.

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In the afternoon, we used those papers to create stunning assemblage/collages with the hand-embellished paper and found objects tied into our canvases.

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Lesta’s collage

The video from the workshop is just pure eye-candy. It’s astonishing how much richness and variety can come from such a a limited color palette. Limiting the color choices allows you to concentrate on texture and composition.

Pale colors and textures are so wonderfully nostalgic that I thought I’d treat you to the original inspiration, the song called “A Whiter Shade of Pale” which won a Grammy for Procol Harum in (gulp) 1967. The video looks so sweet and goofy – very non-MTV. But boy, does it bring back memories!

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September Spirit Dolls

Lyn's workshop demo spirit doll

Lyn’s workshop demo spirit doll, “Leafwing”

There’s something about a Spirit Doll workshop that gives me goosebumps. I think it’s because in just three hours, a group of willing people trust their creative instincts to combine some sticks and clay and cloth and build the most amazing mysterious little beings. It’s really magical!

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You’ve seen my Spirit Doll workshop videos before, and every group is special – this one was particularly memorable. It may have been because of the mix of people, several of whom had come from far away and had never been to the Studio before. There was a lot of welcoming and bonding before the three hours was over.

So this time, I have two videos to share with you. The first one shows the magic of the group pulling together their Spirit Dolls one by one.

And the second one is for YOU. It shows you step-by-step photos of how I made the prototype for yesterday’s workshop just in case you get inspired and want to try this for yourself. I hope you enjoy them both.

Ready to make your own? Here are the basics (especially if you’re a visual learner)!

Finally, if you want all of the Spirit Doll tips and techniques and variations that I have ever tried, I have a DVD called The Magic of Spirit Dolls from my two-hour Artful Gathering class. Just sayin’ – if you missed the workshop, you can capture the “spirit” of it on video! Just click on the image for the link. End of commercial break – have a happy Labor Day!

 

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Rainy day re-discovered books, and FF winner

Does this sound familiar? You’re looking for a particular book in your overcrowded art book stash, and you find one or two that you forgot you even bought. You check them out – hey, wow! These are good! Just what you were looking for and didn’t even know it! Serendipity strikes again.

That just happened to me on this rainy stay-in morning, so I’m sharing these with you – the first one is Mixed Media Books by Gabe Cyr. It is a treasury of mixed media ideas, and not just for re-imagined books.

The Tools and Material section alone is worth the price of the book, including a great page on adhesives with a chart comparing and contrasting different ways to stick stuff to other stuff. And the photos are drool-y.

Mixed Media Books by Gabe Cyr

Mixed Media Books by Gabe Cyr

 

It's about more than just altered books

It’s about more than just altered books

 

There's a nice section on collaboration

There’s a nice section on collaboration

 

The second is a book published in 2010 by Annie Lockhart called Objects of Reflection: A Soulful Journey through Assemblage. Annie Lockhart’s recent work is based on Soulful Painting, but this is all about collections and construction.

This book is wonderful for anyone doing assemblage because it has maps and legends of the components. And it has another invaluable section on joining things together. The book is printed on tan paper with monochromatic photos – interesting.

Prompts and inspirations

Prompts and inspirations

A legend of components

A legend of components

Objects of Reflectin by Annie Lockhart

Objects of Reflectin by Annie Lockhart

One big fat request: I’m giving you the Amazon links so you can “look inside” but if you want to order these books, please PLEASE check first with your independent book store and see if they have them or can get them for you!!  If you’re in San Antonio, here’s a link to The Twig Book Shop.

And now – tah dah – the winner of the Cat Starter Kit Friday Freebie is – – – – – Carlos Haun. Carlos, email me about how to collect your Shaman Kitty kit.

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Home as Collage

Casa Belisle

Casa Belisle

Knock knock. Who’s there. Oh, it’s YOU!

C’mon in! I was just rearranging stuff in the chaotic collage that’s the house I live in. Calling all of this a “collection” dignifies it with more organization than it deserves. But I do like to find little objects that enhance the art from friends which graces my home. As artists (and really, we all are) we notice and respond to our surroundings. I love the concept of home as collage – ever-changing and shifting, always a new composition to inspire us..

Recently I brought home a beautiful armoire that had been at the Studio. It belonged to my stepmother, and I cherish it, but the construction on the wall next door (right behind it) made me nervous. I found a perfect place for it here at home, and that inspired me to mix up other things, old stuff new configuration.

Since you’re here, look around at some of my motley assortment. I love folk art, friends art, funky art. It’s definitely not about price tags, but it is about curated choices. (If you can’t see the photos, click on the title of this post).

Some of my tips on arranging small collages throughout your environment are based on the AB3s of Composition that I developed and teach;

  • A=Alignment – have objects face each other within a group. For example if you have a wall-hanging with a crescent moon on it that you’re hanging next to a portrait, have the crescent and the face looking at each other. Makes sense? Then add a smaller object underneath that faces out.
  • B=Breathing Room – yeah, I know. When you look at my stuff, there’s not much of that. But there are spaces between groupings so that you concentrate on one group at a time. And there are lots of clear, uncluttered surfaces. You can put up as much stuff as you want, but keep some breathing room, however small, between groups of stuff. Mirrors help, because they provide an illusion of depth and space.
  • #3s = Three and Thirds – Groups of threes are so wonderful – if you add a fourth object, it ceases to be a group and looks like four separate things next to each other. But three object create a dialog. Try it. Here’s a link to a post that expands that idea.

I just got a fantastic book called STYLED by Emily Henderson that has a ton of examples on how to build groupings in your “home collage.”  It’s a treat to look at the photos. Not everything is going to be your style, but I did enjoy the book. It’s a guide to another kind of collage – the kind we live in. Happy weekend rearranging stuff!

Textured white collage – new workshop exploration

whiteOffering a new workshop is a risk, both for the teacher and the students who are the first  “test drivers.” That was the case with the Wednesday Exploring Textures in Collage. I knew that I wanted to offer a workshop that pared down collage to very simple textural elements layered with white paint and touches of walnut ink tints, but would the lack of color bore students? Would the project take too long to dry? Would it be deceptively complicated or not make sense or . . .? But once again, my amazing students pulled off a spectacular triumph of artistic exploration.

white2I started the session by demonstrating how to draw a visual classic cruciform framework with pencil lines on a 9×12″ canvas. Then we built thin layers of torn paper across that flat framework. I showed several techniques using both created and found textures, and combined these with mark-making through wet paint.

After that, they were on their own to select textures using their own intuition and style. The hard part was layering white over everything, like watching a blanket of snow fall on carefully arranged objects.

I mentored and suggested, but let them work independently for the most part, and their finished works were professional and evocative – yay!! You should see the work they produced in just three hours! Actually, you can if you take a look at the video, below. Stunning results, be sure to watch until the end to see them.

Dale Jenssen Workshop at the Studio

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Contemporary mirror by Dale Jenssen, 2015 – owned by me! Yay!

Dale Jenssen is a multi-talented artist whose work I love. I have one of her iconic mirrors and several pieces of her jewelry. Whenever I wear the earrings she created, other artist friends always admire them and say, “Dale, right?”

Exciting news – Dale is coming to Lyn Belisle Studio in June for a one-time afternoon workshop to show you how to create these wonderful earrings from metal, beads and small found objects. You will NOT want to miss this. You can find the details here.

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I met Dale several years ago through the Fiber Artists of San Antonio – yep, she’s an amazing fiber artist as well as metals sculptor. Check out two of her creations for FASA, below, and don’t miss the chance to work with Dale at my Studio on June 12th. I’m so excited!! Thanks, Dale, and TGIF, Y’all.

Sunday’s workshop rocked

GET IT? It was a Pebble Mosaic workshop! Well, the pun may be bad, but the workshop was great – David Chidgey, Master Mosaicist, did a splendid job of teaching us how to turn pebbles into art. We learned new terms, such as “Interstice” (pronounced inter-STEE-cee) and “scratch coat.” We delighted in picking through bins of tiny multi-colored pebbles looking for just the right one to fit our designs. There wasn’t (much) rock throwing. Honest.

Free free to admire our results in the video (below). Not bad for beginners – high fives to everyone, especially David!

I was afraid for a while that I’d never make it home in time for the workshop. My plane out of Boston was delayed and I missed a connection in Minneapolis and had to stay there overnight. Unfortunately, that caused me to miss the opening of the HotWax/Cold Wax show in Kerrville. Bummer. But I’ll get there soon.

One good thing the trip delay provided was extra time to play with some iPad art. I’m trying to learn ProCreate, a really cool digital art program that I had mentioned in an earlier blog post. The experimental work below is a photo of my water bottle in the seat-back pocket on the plane, combined with a selfie and some other stuff, including some filters and special effects. (You can see a warning about keeping your seat-belt fastened while seated if you look closely.)

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So, see – you can make art anywhere, even on a plane (especially if you have an iPad), and out of anything, even plain old pebbles (especially if you have David Chidgey). Artists are never at a loss for fodder.

Hope you all have a great week – it sure is nice to be back in Texas.

PS – Registration for most of the summer workshops at the Studio is now open at this link – yay!