Wax on the Water (California Dreamin’)

Morro Bay, CA

It really does seem like a dream. I was somehow at Morro Bay on the coast of California with my heroes, friends, and mentors.We were at an in-person gathering, talking about the art of encaustic and learning so mych from each other. People I had known only from Zoom were giving me real hugs. Even Lora Murphy, founder of Painting with Fire, was there from Ireland.

Me with Lora Murphy – what a brilliant artist she is –

But wait! It was real! My first trip out of Texas in almost three years really was to California to the Wax on the Water Convergence, hosted by the International Encaustic Artists.

Juror Pamela Smith Hudson discusses the work in the IEA Convergence Exhibition of encaustic art.

My dear friend Michelle Belto went with me and gave a wonderful opening program on creating authentic art. It set the tone for the amazing conference.

I brought home lots of great memories – a wonderful workshop with Jay and Ann Bonestell, the swanky dinner at Windows on the Water honoring Trish Seggebruch and Lora Murphy, meeting fellow Enso Circle residents in person –

One of my favorite stories is meeting Barbara Sitar, the former Morro Bay Art Center Gallery Director. Barbara has exhibited and been a featured artist in galleries and other installations in Europe and the USA. During her thirty years as an art professional, she has been a curator, mentor and artist in her native Slovakia in Prague, Vienna, Germany and America.

Talking with Barbara, whose work was in the IEA Exhibition, I found out that she was a native Czech speaker. I introduced her to my husband Bill, who also speaks Czech, and they carried on a happy conversation about Prague and families and all kinds of Czech-related topics. It was fun to watch (even though I didn’t understand a word of it).

The nicest coincidence, though, was that in the IEA Members’ Art Exchange, I won Barbara’s work! It’s an encaustic piece depicting a beautiful Morro Bay white heron. It has a new home in Texas 🙂

Barbara Sitar, 2022

If you would like to see an overview of this wonderful gathering, please view the video – Sean, our videographer, did a stellar job capturing the joy of ConVergence in just five minutes of film.

Master.mp4 from Seannie Cameras on Vimeo.

There was also a good article from San Luis Obispo New Times about the Conference. Many thanks to my fellow IEA Board members whose hard work made this an unforgettable experience. Here’s to next year!!

Compass: Shannon Weber

Shannon Weber’s art has resonated powerfully and personally with me since the first time I saw it at least fifteen years ago. I felt an immediate, eerie sense of connection and a feeling that her work could guide me to a new place on my own creative path.

In 2018, I got to work with Shannon for five days as part of a Fiber Artists of San Antonio intensive workshop at the Southwest School of Art. I wrote about it in this SHARDS post.

Recently, I asked Shannon if she would make a work for me, a commission piece of one of her boats that are so magically symbolic. During the time she worked on it, we talked back and forth about life and art and uncertainties. I knew that the piece she was making would be a guide for me and an inspiration.

Yesterday, the piece arrived from Oregon, packed meticulously in its own huge box, cradled with layers and layers of protective wrapping. The title of the piece is Compass. It could not be more perfect. And I could not be more grateful for this protective, symbolic vessel. 

Shannon Weber, Compass, 2022

In a handwritten note, Shannon described the provenance of the pieces in the assemblage – “small beads, stones, and fossil from my magic beads gathered last year, bone harvested off side of road on forest drive, rusted washers found on construction site, nails from junk shop, vintage burn papers, reed, handmade papers, waxed linen, shell beads, feather.” And then she wrote, “I think it will fit in your nest.”

Shannon Weber, Compass (detail), 2022

How is it that a piece of art can affect us so completely? Shannon says that the title, Compass, is for her all about direction. For me it recalls the saying about adjusting one’s sails when you can’t change the wind.

Shannon Weber, Compass (detail) 2022

That red thread that sparkles in a few places is pure Shannon symbolism – throughout history and across philosophies, red thread has been worn for protection, faith, good luck, strength, and connection. It’s a symbol of being loved, supported and, feeling safe and secure. It’s a prompt to stay positive while facing any adversity.

Every element in Shannon’s work is meaningful, partly because she allows the collected material to direct how the work is going to evolve. Every element collected has a history or a mythology of location, age, or place that is allowed to shapeshift as the materials and techniques are mixed together to the form the structure of the designs.

Her work has attracted the attention of curators of Fiber and Fine Craft who have included her work in their lectures for her skill and methods in design, both nationally and internationally. She has been asked to speak on her methods and use of materials, and she has been featured in numerous publications worldwide. 

I still need to look at Compass a lot more to discover more layers of meaning, but to be able to hold one of Shannon’s works in my hands and feel the connection is pretty awesome. When I get stuck, or get discouraged, or wonder why we make art, I’m going to have this wonderful vessel to guide me out of the rough spots.

The power of Shannon’s work comes, I think, in part from her ethical authenticity. Here is how she describes her process (from an article in Hand Eye Magazine):

By applying ancient techniques and transitioning to contemporary designs, I can achieve my desired effects by using a mixture of repetitive layers, weaving, stitching, and cold connections along with painting and encaustic. These multiple applications make it very easy to blend metal, wire, rubber, and organic materials of all kinds. Each layer of material mixed with different techniques begins to build structure that gives the objects and vessels their form and opens doors for detailed surface design embellishments of all kinds. While the form is taking shape, I consider it an amulet or talisman to be displayed in a personal space.

Thank you, Shannon, for this talisman – and for the lessons you have taught me about working with what I have and to be open to experimenting with almost any material to see what becomes of it. We all need a Compass, and you’ve provided one for me!

 

 

 

It’s here . . .PAINTING WITH FIRE 2022-2023

You probably know by now that Lora Murphy has created an artworld sensation with her year-long exploratory encaustic painting program, Painting with Fire. Last year, I got to be a small part of it, one of 26 teachers they called “The World’s Best” (talk about Imposter Syndrome).

But, wow! PWF is back and even better than ever. I was just looking at some of the new classes – and some new teachers, too. Roxanne Evans Stout has always been one of my favorites, and she’s here, as well as dear friend Michelle Belto, and Bridget Benton, who just did a guest stint for us in The Enso Circle.

I thought and thought about what to teach for my main Painting with Fire class this year, and finally decided on a project called The Shaman Spirit in Paper and Wax: Exploring Simple Mixed Media and Encaustic Figure Construction.

workshop promo

The White Shaman murals were painted on rock in the lower Pecos River Valley of Texas 4000 years ago. These murals are the inspirational source of The Shaman Spirit in Paper and Wax. Using simple materials – sticks, wax, pigment, sinew – we will create assembled figures that reflect the mystery and collective consciousness revealed through shamanic symbols and marks. Some of the explorations include:

  • Wax on paper, both monoprint and direct painting
  • Collage techniques
  • Waxed paper beads and adornments
  • Simple primitive figure construction
  • Face-making
  • Mark-making
  • Figure presentation

What do you think? Will it be fun? You bet 🙂 I hope you’ll sign up for Painting with Fire 2022-2023 through my link, below:

I want to be a fire painter, too!

Every week you’ll get a new class, and you can watch them any time from now until forever. Every teacher in this group is so excited to get to do this another year with you. If you click the link and go to the Painting with Fire site, you will see a list of all the teachers and their themes and processes. Like I said, I’m getting major Imposter Syndrome to be in this group.

Special thank to Lora Murphy, of course, and to all the creative people who joined us for the previous year of Painting with Fire. All the dates and information are here.

Yay for wax and fire and shamans and art and magic and creative beloved friends!!

 

I would be remiss . . .

Just in case you haven’t heard of The Enso Circle, a virtual Artists’ Residency program that Michelle Belto and I founded a year ago, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that it’s open for application until January 10th. If you’re accepted, you’ll be notified by January 12th.

Here’s a copy of an email I sent out last week – the Circle may be for you, or it may not be, but it’s the kind of experience that really can influence your art and your way of thinking about it. And you can tailor it to your own studio practice. Just sayin’ – 🙂

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The door is open for application to the Enso Circle —  accepted now until January 10, 2022.
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Thank you for your interest in our workshops and our studio offerings. We want to let you know that the door is open for application to The Enso Circle, a ground-breaking virtual Artists’ Residency program that is now in its fourth term.
The Enso Circle is an invitational art residency, a dedicated three-month time period in which you will join a community of creators for a specific self-chosen  goal that is unique to you.  The online residency provides the comprehensive artistic support that you need to focus and strengthen your work.
It costs nothing to send in your application, and no payment of any kind is involved until you are accepted. There is a limit of twelve Artists-in-Residence for each term.

 

If you already feel a sense of connection just from this short email message, this may be your time to join. It is a wonderful way to begin a new year. Please explore the links below to learn more about our community.

We are always happy to answer your questions and hope that you will apply for the upcoming Spring Term, which begins on January 18th and ends on April 30, 2022.
Sending all good wishes to you,
michellelyn.jpg
Founders, The Enso Circle

 

A self-critique can be excruciatingly thought-full

I’ve been invited to show a series of paintings in an upcoming GAGA exhibit, which should be good news, but I haven’t done any painting in quite a while and am feeling rusty. Unlike riding a bicycle, you can kind of forget your two-dimensional painting skills if you don’t do it regularly. Or at least it stops being as intuitive as it once was. Take a look at my steps and thoughts as I try to make this piece work.

First, here’s a little snippet from my concept for the series, which will be called FULL-NESS:

“I’ve given a lot of thought this past year about the resilience of the collective human community. The result is this series of six 24×24” mixed-media paintings on wood, each one based on the idea of Full-Ness, which is the quality or state of being “filled completely or to utmost capacity.”

I have always incorporated words in my work, and for this series I’m adapting six words for the six works that describe positive resilience and balance: Hope-Full, Peace-Full, Play-Full, Grace-Full, Joy-Full, Thought-Full.

The first step was to prepare six 24x24x2″ birch cradle boards. I taped the edges, then divided each one into roughly three sections – two sections were painted textured “rust” and one section is gold leaf for contrast.Then I stenciled the word “FULL” on each one.Here’s a detail. It looked pretty good! But  couldn’t just leave it like that.

Next, I looked for random non-copyright  photos of faces that would give me a clue as to what “FULL” word to use. The face below, transferred with Silkspan tissue to the substrate with adhesive and acrylic varnish, looked suitable for the word “thoughtful.”

In this first stage (above) you can see the gold leaf, the rust texture, and the face – none of it really hangs together, but it has potential.

In this version (above), which took me quite a while to get to, I am at that horrible in-between not-finished stage which looks good enough but NOT good enough. I liked the parts, but again, it needed unity. So I did a mental inventory of what worked for me and what didn’t – it’s hard to do a self-critique, hard to be objective.

What was working: The face, the diagonal paint lines, and the white circle were good, all keepers.

What was not: The white “thought” letters weren’t working – they looked like a title and not part of the painting. I wanted to incorporate letters like Jasper Johns did, but these looked too contrived. The white spatters added nothing but empty technique. I also was determined to keep a bunch of the gold leaf showing, which wasn’t really helping. Sigh.

So with all of this in mind, you can see what I finally did, below.

First, I painted completely over the letters “thought” and then started adding layers of color veils over the painting, including some areas of stencil patterns. These translucent layers unified the girl’s face with the lower third of the painting by suggesting a figure. 

I brought in more white and repeated the white circle on the right. That helped me realize that  the letters that said “thought” shouldn’t be white, but should reflect the colors of the layers and look much more random, like shapes in their own right. And I painted over most of the gold leaf, although it shines through very subtly. Yay!

It takes a relatively short time to describe this process, but there was a lot of cussing and fussing in the studio as I went back and forth with this for many hours. Art is about problem solving, and while there are many “right” answers, finding the “right” right answer is sometime like looking for needle in a haystack.

This completed piece doesn’t look a lot like I imagined it would when I began, but I like the result. And the next five paintings should be easier and a lot more fun since I’ve got a “thoughtful” prototype! Self-critiquing should be easier going forward.

These six finished (I hope!!) FULL-NESS pieces will be on view in the Main Gallery at the Kerrville Center for Arts in Feb 2022, details to follow.  There are 16 of us in this group show, including amazing painters Roberta Buckles and Mary James. Wow, the pressure! 🙂

In the meantime, stay joyful and thoughtful and hopeful this holiday season!!

Going back to school — in a box

Today at noon I’m meeting my classmates (virtually) for a workshop called Hand Coloring on Encaustic Images | Workshop in a Box taught by Kevin Tully and Amanda Smith. Amanda owns the ASmith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas, and she specializes in photography and also teaches and works in encaustic. She’s a wonderful curator and artist.

Why “workshop in a box”? Amanda and Kevin ship you a box full of all the equipment, supplies and tools you will need to participate which will be returned at the end of the workshop.

This includes a griddle, the wax, egg tempera paint, your own photos on panels plus a demo work, and an amazing assortment of extras. I received mine two days ago. It is packed with goodies, including a postage-paid label to return the equipment when the workshop is over. You meet the other participants for a mega-Zoom session.

This is a five-hour workshop with three sections – here’s a brief description of the first section:

Starting with a desaturated image we will begin coloring on the print with colored pencil, pastel and water color. Then apply wax to the image. Followed by a demonstration of the application of water soluble wax crayon, egg tempera, pastel and cold wax.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I hardly ever get to take workshops these days, and this one, via Zoom with four other people from around the country, feels like a challenge.

Here are the two photos that I will be working with. I took the first one in Cuba, and the second one in my back garden:

I’ll report back on how the day goes! Off the the workshop 🙂

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the Circle

It seems like just yesterday that Michelle Belto and I welcomed our first Artists in Residence to our online community called The Enso Circle. And today, twelve weeks later, we are celebrating the publication of our first Enso Circle Exhibition Catalog.

This catalog is tangible proof that a “what if” can become a reality. Each of the Resident artists whose authentic, eclectic work graces these pages answered a call for concept that had not been tried before – a virtual Art Residency based on a written application and specific goals.

The Enso Circle is not an art workshop or social media group, although it has components of each of those. It is an invitational art residency, a dedicated three-month time period in which artists join a community of creators for a specific self-chosen goal that is unique to them. The online residency provides the comprehensive artistic support that they need to focus and strengthen their work. Artists who apply are ready to focus on a conceptual goal in their studio practice. It could be a social theme, an exploration of media, a series of work that analyzes personal struggles or celebrates overcoming difficulty.

Linda Rael, Texas, Enso Circle Resident Artist

When Michelle and I opened up this idea online to the arts community in February of 2021, we had no idea how that community would respond. We just knew that The Enso Circle was something we would want at this stage in our creative careers. Much to our delight, we had over twice as many applicants as we cold accommodate. We chose the twelve you see here based on a combination of factors, but any one of the applicants would have been a great choice.

Joanne Desmond, Maine, Enso Circle Resident Artist

Since the first day, the Residents have shown respect, support, humor, and encouragement to others in the Circle. We’ve borrowed ideas from each other and made virtual visits to each other’s studios. I am incredibly grateful to these twelve First Residents who made The Enso Circle a reality.

The catalog contains much more that wonderful photos of artwork. Each Resident Artist has shared personal thoughts about art practice, doubts and triumphs, personal and professional goals, and the how and why of their studio work. Please read about them, enjoy their work, and share it with friends – and to know more about the Enso Circle, visit our website.

Click on the image below to access the complete Exhibition Catalog.

 

 

Three Lessons learned (so far) from The Enso Circle

enso circle logo

The Enso Circle, developed by Michelle Belto and me,  is a new concept in creative communities. It’s a virtual artists’ residency program, joined through application, and limited to twelve participants.

The Circle has definitely exceeded our hopes, both as a successful model for group dynamics and as a platform for encouraging individual artistic achievement.

Part of the appeal of The Enso Circle is that each individual artist sets an individual goal. It could be something specific, like creating twelve pieces of fiber art for an upcoming exhibition, or it could be something general such as learning more about encaustics and producing three exploratory works. Journaling is encouraged, but not required, and there is lots of lively 24/7 conversation in our Slack space.

A huge hunk of icing on the cake for me is what I’m learning as an artist as I work right alongside the Enso Residents on my own project, a series of encaustic collage works with historic photographs of child laborers from the early 20th century.

Here are three huge takeaways I’ve gleaned at this point in the term – they are not new ideas, but the “learning part” is how effective and important they are to getting art accomplished.

ONE: SET A GOALIT’S THE SETTING, NOT THE SPECIFIC GOAL

Just do it – write down a goal based on something you are already doing, something you have always wanted to do, something based on another artist’s intriguing techniques that you want to explore in your own style (yes, that’s OK). Two of our Residents have changed their goals since the started – they knew what felt right, so they adjusted. That’s OK, too.

My own goal was pretty specific: Working from dark to light in mixed media and encaustic photocollage pulling images from the dark of the past to the light of the present. In 1904, the National Child Labor Committee formed in the hopes of ending the horrors of child labor. One of these investigators was the photographer Lewis Hine, who traveled across the country meeting and photographing children working in a variety of industries.

I’ve never been a write-down-your-goal person before, but, boy does it help!!

Here’s one of my first experiments toward my goal:

This led to my panel idea (below).

TWO: MAKE A TIMELINE – REVIEW IT OFTEN AND HAVE A MIDPOINT

I wanted to be halfway this week. I had decided to make five panels, each with photographs of the children on black backgrounds. If that timeline didn’t exist, I probably would have thought “too busy” and just let the project lapse, but I felt a self-imposed obligation, thanks to the others in the Enso Circle who were all reporting on their own progress.

Here’s the halfway point – the screen panels have been finished and connected. I had to figure out the best way to connect the waxed panels, and ended up using strips of hand-dyed canvas. It worked great.

Next will come finishing the back with handwritten stories of each of the children pictured  on the front . I’m still not sure what that will look like, but I’ll ask my fellow Residents what they think.

THREE: SHARE YOUR WORK – WARTS AND ALL

Even if you don’t belong to a structured community such as The Enso Circle, you can still do a “show and tell” with like-minded friends. Do it on a regular basis. Right now, it will probably be virtual through images shared on Instagram, email, or Facebook, but it won’t be long before we can gather again in small groups.

I have learned about the importance of talking about work in progress – it’s an authentic way to expose yourself to feedback. In the Circle, we use Slack, uploading pictures, asking questions, and making comments. So far, the sharing seems to be keeping us all on track.

Here’s how Katherine, one of our Resident Artists, put it:

It is unbelievably helpful to see other artists in action. To truly see the individual style, prep and steps along the way of each artist and their projects. To see successes and failures and the opportunities in the those too.

I will be putting together a mid-term catalog of Works in Progress from our Residents – stay tuned for that in the next week or so.

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I hope my three takeaways from The Enso Circle help. You can do this for yourself, particularly if you are stuck and feeling kind of directionless.

And while I’m not formally recruiting for The Enso Circle, we are taking applications for the Second Term, which begins on June 14. It you are interested, here’s the link to the application.

Thanks for reading, and take good care.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” —Bill Copeland

A Holiday Card and a Little Gift Tutorial

We did it! 2020 is almost in the rear-view mirror.

We will have tales to tellhappy ones and scary ones, lonely ones and sad ones. And we will never forget this year.

I am so grateful for the collective art practice that keeps us creative, resilient, and inspired. Thanks to everyone who joined me in a workshop online, and to all the friends who Zoomed with me across time zones and borders. Lessons were learned!

Here is a little card for you based on an origami model called the Diamond fold. It’s actually part of a short video that includes a free little tutorial on how to create one of these cards for yourself.

Click on the image to open the card and the video.

If you don’t see the image, click here to access the video.

Please remember that even though the year is almost over, we must continue to take good care of ourselves and each other. We can do this.

Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!

~Lyn

PS – If you need to make a last-minute gift, don’t forget about the free workshops at my Teachable Classroom, Lyn Belisle Studio. I’m sure someone you know would like a Lotus Book or a Votive Candle Card. And you can whip out one (or five) before Christmas – honest!

The Lotus Book

Glowing Paper Votive Screens

Q. When is a workshop NOT a workshop?

Q. When is a workshop NOT a workshop?

A. When it’s a resource collection of materials, links, tips, and freebies.

I am finally getting all of my favorite materials with their sources in one place in my Workshop Studio on Teachable, and sharing it with YOU. I got (stole?) the idea from Pamela Caughey’s Art and Success school.

The RESOURCES “class” kind of looks like a workshop, and it’s free, but it’s more of a grab bag of ideas and art stash. Check it out.

Here’s what up there right now. Every resource has a link. I explain why I like them and how I use them.

MY TOP FIVE MATERIALS

These are materials that are somewhat unique to my workshops, my five “signature” favorites. You probably won’t find them on everyone’s lists of materials because they are a bit unusual. I’m often asked for sources – so here they are, all in one place. And what’s even more remarkable – you can get all five of them together for under $50.

WALNUT INK ($6)
GOLDEN FLUID ACRYLIC, QUINACRIDONE AZO GOLD ($9)
ARTIFICIAL SINEW ($14)
BEESWAX ($13)
BOOK FOIL ($7)

FIVE MORE MUST-HAVE FAVORITES

Like the first list, these things are materials or tools I use in virtually every workshop. They don’t take up a lot of room, they are very affordable and versatile, and they do a specific job and do it well. You can get all five of these for about $65 – or the cost of a dinner out in a nice restaurant (remember the days when we went to restaurants?) 🙂

EK TOOLS HOLE PUNCHER ($11)
ARTISTS’ WHITE TEMPERA PAINT ($9)
POTTER’S TOOL SET ($10)   (My “Best Art Bargain”)
HANDMADE DRAGON CLOUDS MULBERRY PAPER SHEETS ($16)
BOOKBINDING KIT ($18)

The best thing is that you can order them all online in one place, and the whole assortment of ten essentials for your mixed-media studio costs just a little over $100. ______________________________________________

Other things on the Resources page include:

WORKSHOPS: SELECTED LISTS OF MATERIALS. . .( these lists give you an idea about the scope of the workshops)

FREE PRINTABLES. . . (collections of designs to print out and use in collage or other projects)

FREE LESSON PREVIEWS. . .(selected preview lessons from several different workshops, all in one place)

As I said, check it out, and let me know what else you would like to see on that RESOURCES page – it’s a never-ending project!