Cathedrals and cheese

We left a week ago from Texas for a river cruise on the Rhine, and it’s been an extraordinary learning experience. I’ve never been on a cruse of any kind until now, and I’ve learned a lot about that environment. Very very interesting, still processing the wheat from the chaff. We’ll dock in Amsterdam tomorrow, home in a few days.

One of my goals on this trip was to shake up my design aesthetic by exploring some galleries and museums in the cities we visited. Unfortunately, the way the trip is structured, there’s not a lot of time for that kind of individual activity. However, there have been two experiences that will stay with me once I’m home.

The first was visiting the magnificent Cologne Cathedral. I was quite literally moved to tears as I approached it from the plaza. The structure defines the range and scope of inspired human achievement. And it’s still a work in progress. You can read more abut it here.

The second memorable experience was this afternoon’s trip to a family cheese farm near Kinderdjik, Netherlands.The Kaas- en Zuivelboerderij Kuiper (Cooper’s Cheese and Dairy Farm) is a family-run operation, now in its third generation. The farm makes gouda cheese using their own milk and starter enzymes that they buy from a commercial firm.

There is a sense of timelessness on this farm, and the rhythm of the seasons and generations resonates strongly. The cows were pretty wonderful, too. They stay inside during the cold months, but on the first day that they are allowed back outside, they go bonkers, according to the farmer, dancing across the fields and falling into the canals.

Cheese and cathedrals both take a long time in the making – and it all brought me back to my favorite saying about art, “Trust the process.” There is such beauty in every step that humans take in creating something that enhances the spirit, whether is a magnificent soaring structure or a creamy gouda from happy cows.

I’ll have lots to think about when I get home, but paying more attention to the process and less to the frantic rush-to-completion will be something I’ve learned on this trip. Home soon!

Leavin’ on a jet plane

I get to go on vacation!! Ten days of sightseeing on the Rhine River with friends and family. Gosh, I’ll probably come back with all kinds of ideas about castle-and-cuckoo-clock building workshops . . . and it really is going to be nice to get new creative inspiration in a completely different environment.

I’m taking my sketchbook and a little set of watercolors. Wonder if I can still remember how to draw? Wonder how fast we pass those castles? Better draw quick.

Pocket watercolor set – cute – wonder if you use an eyedropper for water?

Project on hold till I get back – the Talisman eBook. It’s finished, but I have asked pals Joanna Powell Colbert and Michelle Belto to review it for me while I’m gone. And since I have to close my Etsy shop while I’m away (and nobody can order talisman faces), it’s a good time to let it rest until I’m back at the end of April and can show it to you guys. You will love it, I’m hoping.

Some of the pages from the new eBook, which also has instructional videos – available May 1

Other projects on hold – summer workshops at little Studio Cinco. I’ll be listing those soon, but am still working on ways to let more more people to be able to sign up before all the spaces are gone. It’s a good, but worrisome, dilemma. Meanwhile, Lesta Frank and Michelle Belto are offering some great workshops – check ’em out.

I just bought a book at The Twig called “How to Pack” because most of the time when I travel, I’m schlepping around art supplies and have room for maybe an extra pair of jeans and t shirt. But this book came to the rescue and gave me all kinds of tips for being a well-dressed tourist:

Tips, pp 38-39

If the equation says I can wear only one pair of shoes at a time, it sure isn’t gonna be that pair at the top left. Can you imagine how your dogs would be barkin’ after a day walking along the cobblestones of Cologne in those?? I kinda like that hat and the sunglasses, though. Do you squash the hat up in your carry-on? Or just put it on your head and wear it on the plane? Hmmmm. . .

My number one travel tip is to look for a nice tall person to help me put the carry-on bag in the overhead bin.

Hopefully, I can send a signal from abroad – but if not, see you when I get back. Have fun at Fiesta, all you fellow San Antonions!

PS.  A shout-out to travel doc Mark Thornton for helping me get over the Dreaded Cough of 2017 and be ready for the trip – whew! That one had me worried.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Après-turkey Saturday, out and about

ASmith Gallery 103 N Nugent Ave, Johnson City, TX

I’m headed to Johnson City on this beautiful fall morning to take some work to Amanda Smith’s Gallery. It’s a new gallery for me, and I can’t wait to meet Amanda.

They specialize in photography, but do some amazing workshops with photoencaustic. The show I’m participating in is called, simply, “encaustic” – it opens December 17, 4-8 pm. Click this link to see all the accepted work. I especially like Sandra Carrion’s “Dragonfly.”

Sandra Carrion

Then it’s off to the Pearl for the San Antonio Clay Arts Festival.  I’m hoping that some of my favorite potters will be there, like Marcia Dahlman – love her work.

Marcia Dahlman

Marcia Dahlman

And then — TAH DAH – I’m going over to the new studio to do a little planning and a little art.  It’s so nice to have a comfortable space close to home to hold workshops and explore new directions for my own art. If you missed the newsletter yesterday, here’s a short video preview of the space – not quite settled, but almost.

A new place of creative belonging . . . from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

Oh, if you did miss the newsletter, another exciting happening is an invitation-only trunk show and sale with Monika Astara on December 10th from 11am-1pm at my home. If you’d like to be on the list and get details and an invite, just email me.

Monika’s designs are perfect for the holidays – elegant and easy.

The icing on the weekend cake will be a Sunday get-together with uber-talented Michelle Belto – we are planning an exciting collaborative website for 2017 that will be totally unique.

Michelle and I have worked together for several years – here’s a video from one of our first collaborations – always fun to revisit.

I hope YOUR weekend is a happy one – thanks, as always, for keeping up with SHARDS and me!

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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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A workshop and visit with Julie and Greg from Australia – wow!

How often have I had an Australian come to Texas for a workshop with me? Well, never – until now.

Greg is amazed by Julie's talent!!

Greg is amazed by Julie’s extraordinary talent – of course!

Australians Julie (Julz) Dandelyon and her husband Greg Dodge had been in touch with me for a while about a possible get-together when they visited the States, but I never thought their visit would become a reality.

It did! We’ve just finished the most amazing two days together at my new house working in mixed media, making molds, firing earthenware, and creating collages on canvas. We also ate, drank, visited, talked for hours about their extensive world travels and plans for the future. Total bonding!

Julie was such a quick study with clay – it was her first time working with the shard face process, and she quickly developed her own unique style, making her own molds and embellishments. Take a look at the video of some of Julie’s work over the past two days – beautiful stuff.

Of course, she did everything upside down . . only kidding. I hope to get to Australia next year to work with Julie on several projects that we discussed – what a dream that would be! Thanks, Greg and Julz!

 

Santa Fe, Round Two

My workshop on Saturday at the Artisan Exp in Santa Fe once again proved to me that starting with a good grasp of composition works magic in any collage-based process. I discussed my Composition AB3’s ( Alignment, Breathing Room and Thirds) and demonstrated how easy it is to master these guidelines.

Voila! Every person produced a really good encaustic collage, all different, but all strong in subject, vision, and composition. Below are some of the pieces in process, and some that are completed. (If you can’t see the images, click here to view them in your browser.)

One of the participants, artist, author and tarot reader Arwen Lynch-Poe, documented her process and with her permission, I’ll use her photos to show you how she put her piece together. (If you can’t see the images, click here to view them in your browser.)

So between Encaustic Bling with Michelle Belto on Friday and Engraven Images on Saturday, the Santa Fe workshops were super fun and successful!

And if you want to take this workshop, you still can. I’m teaching the all-day version, plus a Wax, Earthenware and Fiber Talisman class at ViVi Magoo in Round Top in three weeks.

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Update note: Since I returned from Santa Fe on Monday, I’ve looked at a couple of places for new workshop venues – and there are several good possibilities.. . .more soon.

But the good ol’ Studio isn’t closed yet! We still have a fantastic event coming up a week from today. It’s Monika Astara’s popular trunk show and sale of exquisite, artistic fashions!  Here’s more info – hope to see you there.

monika

Right now I’m off to the Trinity Alumni Art Showcase where I’ll be showing and selling my Encanto earthenware and sari ribbon mixed-media pieces. Wish me luck!

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Santa Fe Whirlwind

So I went to Santa Fe – yeah, I know, I didn’t call, I didn’t write – I definitely didn’t blog! It was a crazy experience – fun, intense, exciting, exhausting. 

The huge Buffalo Thunder Resort Hotel just outside Santa Fe was the venue for the giant Artisans Materials Expo where I taught two encaustic workshops as part of the Encaustic Art Institute (EAI) and International Encaustic Artists (IEA) conference and retreat. Internet reception was very spotty there (that’s my excuse for not keeping in touch).

However, they did have an astonishingly extensive collection of Native American art pieces throughout the huge hotel – some traditional , some contemporary. It was eye candy for the soul 🙂

Michelle Belto was a great teaching teammate and travel partner. She is also a riot to hang out with. She taught a solo workshop on Thursday, we co-taught on Friday, and I taught a solo workshop on Saturday. Here are some photos from our Friday “Wax and Bling” class. There was glitz everywhere – fun stuff.

Friday night was the opening of  the Making Your Mark juried exhibit at the EAI Gallery in the Santa Fe Railyard art district. Michelle and I both had pieces in the show. The juror, David Limrite, was at the opening and gave a gracious statement about the 57 pieces work he selected for a field of over 200 entries.

The exhibit is a showcase of the many ways in which artists work in wax.

Here is a video presentation I made for the Santa Fe conference. It introduces the finalists for 2016 La Vendéenne Awards which honor excellence in encaustic painting. The awards took place on Saturday night.

This introduction will give you an idea of the depth and breadth of expertise present in artists who practice the versatile and ancient art medium of encaustic.

This ends Part One of the Santa Fe Report – stay tuned for Part Two later in the week which will include a couple of interesting links for you to check out as well as more photos……..

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Jane Davies workshop, Day Three

Driving to Gloucester from Salem on Sunday morning

Driving to Gloucester from Salem on Sunday morning

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow could stop these two intrepid artists from heading off to the final day of Jane’s workshop. It really was something of a shock to be in the middle of a snowstorm in April!

Our assignment for the day was to incorporate the techniques we had learned into new layers on previous work and to begin a new piece (or two) from scratch.

It still amazes me that all of us were able to complete at least six or seven paintings during Jane’s workshop. Of course, the goal was not to produce finished works, but to explore the process-directed techniques. To quote Jane. “You can’t like it all the way through the piece,” and “You can’t plan more than one step ahead.” Sorta like driving through the snow and fog.

Here are some of the photos from our last day – you can see how pieces have changed and evolved. (By the way, if you are reading this as an email and can’t see the images, just click on the title of this post to take you to the blog site.)

Thanks beyond words to Jane Davies for a wonderful workshop – if you ever have the chance to work with her, do it. Thanks to my co-pilot, Gloria Hill, for her intrepid navigation along the Massachusetts roads.. We’ll be home soon to Texas!

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.