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!

A free workshop on Teachable – Spread the Word

The events of the past two weeks have been unsettling and rocky, and perhaps that is necessary in order to prioritize some important discussions that are long overdue. I can’t presume to speak with any sense of understanding, but I can listen and encourage the discussion through art. You can, too. Read on to see how you can sign up for a free workshop.

It occurred to me that WORDS are potent agents of change in difficult times.

And that reminded me of a project I did a long time ago with my high school art students which elevated meaningful words to artwork. It involved choosing a “mantra” word as the basis for a symbolic collage.  This can encourage a lot of good discussions about personal values. Here’s a digital example of that project using the word “Justice.”

We’ve seen a lot of that word lately:

One thing I CAN do to participate in the discussion is teach about how we can communicate with artso over the past week, I’ve created an absolutely free workshop on Teachable called “Spread The Word.”  The idea, based on my lesson with students, is to choose a word that has meaning and making it into art to share.

I worked this project myself before I started filming the lessons on how to do it. I chose the word “breathe.” Breath is life and must be honored and protected. Here is my finished artwork:

This piece is made from several kinds of cut paper. It’s 11 x 14″ and putting it together was really an easy process. You can do this with almost any word. How about using the word “Dad” for a Father’s Day art collage?

This workshop, as I said, is absolutely free. You can take it just for the experience without any agenda at all.

It’s an engaging and easy technique that everyone loves. You can make a word collage of your own name or a friend’s name. You may, like I did, choose a word that helps you reflect on how we treat each other in this incredibly difficult time – a word like “unity” or “love.” Whatever you like. No experience or special materials required.

If you want some inspiration, here is a good post on words about social justice on the site Astronomy in Color. Some of them I hadn’t hard of, but I know about them now.

The free workshop, Spread The Word, opens today on my Teachable site and will be up until the 4th of July. You just need to sign up at the link below.

SPREAD THE WORD

If you’d like to share the word art that you create, I’d love to post it on my website in the Spread The Word Gallery page. Just email me a photo of your work before July 4th.

Spread the word. We’re all in this together.

 

 

Postcards to Myself – and two workshops on Teachable

Thank goodness for cyberspace! Otherwise I’d be a sad teacher with an empty workshop studio. But fortunately, I’ve got a three new online workshops to tell you about.

First, thanks to everyone who ordered my new interactive eBook, Postcards to Myself, which just came out. And special thank for helping me tweak it! The response has been great – a new comment came in just yesterday, “This is one of the best workshops I’ve ever taken, it’s full of ideas and very thoughtfully done.” Yay, thanks, Rosmary!

An “interactive eBook” is an interesting critter – you download a PDF document that looks like a hard copy, but it also has links on its pages that take you to a video that shows you what you’ve been reading about.

At $18, it’s a real bargain for people who like both reading instructions and watching demonstrations.

Here’s a sample page from the book:

And here’s an example of the video clip on that page:

Link to Video 16 from Postcards to Myself by Lyn Belisle from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

You can order it here. And . . . .

I’M GIVING AWAY THREE FREE COPIES OF POSTCARDS TO MYSELF THIS SUNDAY – WANT TO ENTER THE DRAWING? CLICK HERE.

But wait! There’s more! (as always)

I have two workshops online at my new Teachable site, Lyn Belisle Studio. Both workshops are new versions of classes that I’ve taught at Artful Gathering in recent summers. Now that Artful Gathering faculty has scattered, I’ve brought back those classes at (ahem) really low prices so more people can enjoy them. They are all such fun, and each class has about two hours of instruction.

Teachable is super-easy to use.  The first introductory workshop – still only $10 – is about making unique portfolios –  “Story in a Story.” More than 30 people have already signed up for that one. Here’s what that looks like once you’ve signed up:

The second workshop, Small Worlds: Altered paper landscape collages, just went live last night. This was one of the most popular workshops at my old Studio. If you haven’t played with Citra-solv papers, you will love this one. Tuition for that one is $29, which is a lot less than the Artful Gathering price of $89.

Like all my Teachable workshops, it’s self paced and you can download any of the videos or just watch them online wherever you want.

When times get strange and scary and sad, we get comfort in doing what we love, and I love teaching. Right now, I’m putting together a free mini-workshop called Spread the Word. You’ll hear about that one soon, but it’s my small way to teach about sharing kindness through words.

So sign up for a workshop! This old schoolteacher needs students <grin>. And have a nice weekend. I could not do without you – and this wonderful community.

(from the Small Worlds workshop :))

 

 

Chop wood, carry water

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” — Zen Buddhism 

I have a book called Chop Wood, Carry Water that I bought decades ago. It still helps me remember to focus on the things I can control in my day-to-day life, and to try to do those things with a full heart, to keep on keepin’ on.

So I’ve found comfort, as usual, in art and teaching. Now that my duties as President of the San Antonio Art League are over, there’s more time to return to those beloved foundations.

The new eBook workshop I’ve been putting together, called Postcards to Myself, will be finished by June 10th. I’ve been working on it since February, off and on.

It’s actually kind of metaphorical. First, you make a big, mixed-up picture with lots of words and images, and then you focus only on the most beautiful small areas and take notes on why those little parts make your heart sing. This helps us remember that there are little patches of beauty in today’s crazy-quilt of chaos.

Anyway, before I get too carried away, here’s a short clip that tells you more about this interactive eBook book and the 19 (!) videos. Or if you like, just skip to the bottom of this post where I have a question for you.

VIDEO LINK

Here’s the question – I’ve been talking with friends in my circle (Lesta Frank and Michelle Belto among them) about how we can continue our work in art and teaching during this time of physical distancing and beyond, into whatever the “new normal” might look like. Interactive eBooks (like the one above) can almost substitute for an in-person workshop, as can online classes and Zoom critique groups.

As part of this change, I’m updating my own email list so that anyone interested in sharing their thoughts and getting further information about all of this can be included in the discussion. I won’t be sending out a zillion newsletters or anything like that – who has time? – but I may send occasional updates on new classes and collaborations from my studio and with other artists like Lesta and Michelle. And I’ll be asking what you think.

If you’d like to be included in future updates, just click this link to submit your email.

And there’s more! If you submit you email (and optional comments) before Friday, I’ll put your name in a drawing to win a lovely new face mask from Johnny Was. Winner announced Friday afternoon, shipped to you or available for pickup.

In the meantime, chop wood, carry water, put one foot in front of the other, and keep on keepin’ on safely and kindly. Thanks for your help.

 

Lift your spirit (dolls) in uncertain times – free for the making

Hello from a planet holding its breath, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. This is not the post I though I’d be writing.

However, when I got an thank-you message from a woman in France this morning, I decided to write a blog post that might be of help to those whose plans have rearranged themselves because of caution and semi-isolation. Read on.

Hilda’s message described her frustration with trying to purchase one of my my Kindle books from French Amazon. She had tried three times, and while she kept getting refunds, she really wanted the book.

I asked for her email and sent her the PDF version as a gift. Here’s the note she wrote back, with a translation:

Wow.  “Like all the French population, we are confined because of the Corona virus…this book will allow me to escape for a moment and not let myself panic.

Right after I read that, I got another message on my Etsy Shop site thanking me for a custom listing for her Spirit Doll faces and saying, “These faces will be therapeutic during these uncertain times.”

Finally a light dawneda perfect project for us might be creating and sharing a bunch of little Spirit-Lifting Dolls made from natural materials that remind us of simple endurance and resilience?

We can stay busy collecting materials. We can keep these small sculptures as reminders of hope, and also give them to friends to lift their spirits! This might be a good project for kids, too – it’s a bit old-fashioned, but that can be a good thing.

So here’s some free stuff that I’m sharing with you in in this post, hoping we can lift some spirits:

  • A free book from me on how to make a spirit doll – just click the link below to download the PDF:

Spirit Doll Book

  • A list of materials to make a Sprint doll – just click the link below to download the PDF:

Spirit Doll Materials List

  • A guide to making your own air-dry clay Spirit Doll faces with craft store materials – just click the link below to download the PDF. You can also make faces in many other ways – drawing on watercolor-paper circles, painting on rocks . . . .

Making Air Dry Clay Faces Instructions

  • A list of nice quotations about hope and encouragement to cut out and put inside your Spirit-Lifting doll or tie on a tag on the outsidejust click the link below to download the PDF:

SPIRIT LIFTING QUOTES

  • A fun video on “short-cut” Spirit Dolls made with wooden grilling skewers that you can make in half an hour – click on the image to open it in You Tube:

Hang on to these instructions and resources. You may want to come back to them in a few weeks if you’re not totally stir-crazy right this minute.

It may be that we will get deeper in to hunkering down and distancing for the good of all. If so, remember that you might feel isolated, but you are never alone – I’m sending all good wishes for you to keep your spirits up, your bodies healthy, and your creativity flowing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beeswax and Clay: experimental play

Studio work is not all directed toward completed pieces of art – sometimes the best part is experimentation without expectations. Whether it works or doesn’t work, the results add to the body of knowledge about the subject at hand. I got to play a bit at my studio yesterday, and learned a few things.

I’ve been doing a lot of mixed media sculpture lately, and I wanted to play with beeswax on textured fired unglazed clay (bisque). The video camera happened to be set up above the work table, so you get to see what I was playing with.

This is not a tutorial at all – it’s just me, fooling around and making comments 🙂

I learned a couple of things from these experiments:

  • White clay is a better match for beeswax than red clay
  • Eucalyptus might be a better shade of walnut ink for this process because it’s not as intense as Terra Cotta
  • Heavily textured clay surfaces don’t take the beeswax as successfully as lightly textured surfaces
  • Photo-transfers on clay are not particularly beeswax-friendly because they are not porous enough due to the transfer process

New things I want to try because of these experiments:

  • Using the same technique on paper clay to test its absorbancy
  • Doing more intricate scoring and carving into the beeswax surface once it’s cooled on the clay
  • Heating the beeswax with a heat gun to “drive it” into the clay surface to see what happens to the finish
  • Adding metallic wax to the beeswax surface aft it has cooled.

I’ve filed this information away until I need it – probably at one of those “Aha!” moments when I realize that this technique is exactly what I need to complete a work in progress. Or maybe not! But everything you learn doesn’t have to be put to practical use – it’s OK to play.

 

Medical Miracles and Healing Art

I’ve just returned from two intense weeks San Diego with my brother, who lives in Austin. My brother (who is just 14 months younger than I am) needed a very critical and specialized operation, and UC San Diego Health is the worldwide leader for this procedure, called pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) surgery. The surgery was – hooray –  a huge and miraculous success thanks to incredibly skilled doctors and expert staff.

If you’ve been through  a similar experience, you know that you spend a lot of time at the hospital waiting for results, which can be stressful. Fortunately, the UC hospital campus was a haven of healing, in no small part due to its art.

The Jacobs Healing Arts Collection is exhibited throughout the hospital, from hallways to patient rooms. The collection includes more than 150 individual pieces, including paintings, sculptures and digital photographs.

I spent many hours looking at the art and finding fascinating details that engaged me. This painting (above), Roses and Two Lemons by Manny Farber (1996) is an oil on board featured on the first floor of Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health.

Below is another piece that fascinated me – it’s a huge spectacular fiber sculpture/canvas behind glass that appears to have been made from partially cut canvas which was sliced into tiny “tiles,” then folded and gilded.

Take a look at a couple of detail photos, below. It’s hard to figure out how this was done, but the results are amazing – kinda like the surgery!

One more small collage by an elevator caught my eye  – it reminds me of our Citra-Solv workshops:

After having time to really look at these artworks, it occurred to me that true “healing art” does not mean “inspirational” posters of hands and sunsets and lotuses (although those can have their place).

The real curative power of creativity comes from authentic work by artists whose message is engaging and intriguing like those in the UC San Diego Hospital’s Jacobs Collection.

Even when we are most stressed and anxious, carefully curated art helps us think and question – how did the artist do that? What do those shapes mean? Why do those lines feel visually serene? How in the world did the artist mix that color?

It’s more than just a distraction or decoration – it’s a comforting connection to human creativity that is ageless and infinite.

It’s good to be back home. Thanks to the wonderful UC hospital and staff in San Diego for performing healing miracles!

And thanks to the artists who help us heal by keeping us focused on our universal humanity.

 

 

 

 

S____T Animals?*

 

My friend Leslie Newton and I are teaching a Spirit Animal workshop at the San Antonio Art League tomorrow, and I’ve been practicing!
I chose to experiment with the “slab method” of construction. It’s just what it sounds like. You roll out a slab of clay and cut out a shape. I made a paper pattern of a generic beastie with a neck and four legs, rolled out the slab, then textured it with a cool spiral wooden pattern tool.
The clay was all floppy, so I invented the  Belisle Toilet Paper Roll Animal Hanger/Dryer Box and draped him over it to shape him up. Necessity is the mother of invention, and he was too wet to stand up on his own.
Here are two of his cousins in the dryer box:
I used different methods of texturing the slabs – here is a rubber mat made for that purpose:
I cut out ears and tails to be attached later.
Everything was fired, and then assembled. I put walnut ink on this first fellow, and here is the result.
He’s whimsical and aardvark-like, and although don’t know what “spiritual characteristics” he might symbolize, he’s pretty cool. Now, onto the big question . . . . . .
*Why did I call this post “S____T Animals?”
Because that term is apparently very controversial. Here is a message I received from someone about the title and subject of this workshop shortly after I announced it:
Hi Lyn.  I just wanted to share this article with you, explaining why “spirit animal” is a harmful term. https://www.spiralnature.com/spirituality/spirit-animal-cultural-appropriation/
It was kind of a shock to realize that I was unintentionally indulging in serious cultural appropriation by using the term “spirit animal” which is all over pop culture. Living in San Antonio, we have such a blend of peacefully co-existing cultures here that I have truly not though enough about this.
What are your thoughts? It’s not a debate, just an enlightening discussion about how we can be more culturally sensitive in our art.

Wednesday Workshop

    Lyn’s demo piece, composition and collage workshop on Wednesday, September 18th

I love it when a group of friends organizes an afternoon workshop at my studio, especially if I have not worked with them before.

Yesterday, five such friends met for an afternoon of exploring composition, collage and beeswax – one of my favorite topics. It has something for everyone, no matter how experienced or brand new someone is to making art. Here’s the class outline:

  • Exploring Encaustic Collage is an all-level workshop designed to introduce you to simple encaustic techniques and layering.This popular workshop allows you to use your own images or studio images to layer stories through translucent beeswax and mixed media.

    The Project – create a narrative encaustic collage that tells a compelling story using photos and textures.

    The Process – create encaustic collages on substrates. Explore effective story-telling composition. Enhance the wax and images with mixed-media techniques.

    The Goal – enjoy learning about the beauty of beeswax as a mixed-media tool while developing your skills in collage composition.

We emphasized the practice of veining images with white tempera paint (which is beeswax friendly) to conceal, reveal and connect images and design elements. I promised one participant, who said she didn’t like any of her main images, that if she started working with the one she disliked the least, she would learn to love it. She did!

Mary Francine, collage detail

Here are some of the materials we worked with:

  • Images from copyright-free web sources, old catalogs, magazines, personal digital photos printed on plain paper, ephemeral scraps and partial images
  • Assorted collage paper, fiber, tissue
  • Substrate – 5×7”-8×10” archival mat board, 140-300# watercolor paper, Bristol board, heavy drawing paper
  • Glue sticks –Scotch permanent glue sticks if possible
  • White Tempera Paint – (note: this does not seal the substrate)
  • Dick Blick Matte White Acrylic
  • Graphite pencils
  • Flat paint brushes, 1”
  • Tsukineko Walnut ink
  • PrismaColor pencils
  • Small stencils
  • Rubber stamps, natural stamps (like bottle tops)
  • Stamping ink, black and/or brown
  • Mats for isolating compositional elements
  • White (clear) beeswax
  • Metal leaf
  • Book foil
  • Pigment sticks, wax metallic finish
  • Needle pottery tool or other incising tool
  • Scissors
  • Equipment for melting beeswax
  • Hake brushes

In the video below you can see the process and the results.

I wish you could have been with us during the final discussion and critique to hear the words of the artists as they explained how their stories developed while they worked on their collages.

This is an amazing exercise. You never know why you choose certain images intuitively until the whole narrative starts coming together and making sense. It’s kind of like choosing Tarot cards to find a message for yourself. Trust the process!

Pieces of possibility, found and handmade

Did you look for found objects today? Lots of people have been doing it, and they’re sending me photos of their great compositions. This one is by Marilyn Jones:

Marilyn Jones, found object composition

If you haven’t checked out our online Found Object gallery in a while, see what’s new HERE.

So what’s the next step? Sometimes it’s just enough to photograph them for the record, but you also might want to save them for a more fixed form as assemblage components.

I regularly combine found objects with small earthenware pieces (which were made for no particular purpose) to create assemblages. You can do the same thing with air-dry clay if you don’t have a kiln (see a couple of possibilities at the end of this post).

Here’s an assemblage example that I finished yesterday:

Some of the pieces are found, some made of clay, and some repurposed, like the old paintbrush.

I keep a couple of trays of unfinished clay shards handy so I can try various combinations, just like we’ve been doing with the found objects

Some are more complete than others, but they are all still just possible components.

Here’s a possible work in progress – it’s not even a “work” yet, just a “play.”

If you make these kinds of clay components, be sure to punch holes in strategic areas in case you want to attach them to other objects. I use various sizes of paper straws.

As I said, it’s easy to do this with air-dry clay, especially since these are small textured “shards.” It’s also a good way to test different kinds of air-dry clay and try out interesting textures.

This is one of my favorite air-dry clays. It’s inexpensive, and dries quickly, especially if you put your pieces on a paper plate out in the Texas sun to dry, That’s the only time I’m grateful for 100F heat! This paper clay takes paint and walnut ink very nicely.

And here’s something new that I’m just getting ready to tryMichael Tarricone wrote me about it:

Hi, Lyn –

I was wondering if you have seen the new Quick Cure Clay from Ranger Ink. I’ve been using it from a few weeks now and it’s really fantastic. It only dries when you apply heat with a heat gun. It dries rock hard in just a couple of minutes. It work beautifully in silicone molds, in face you can cure it in the mold.

Michael’s not associated with Ranger, he just liked the way the clay worked. I ordered some and will give you a report once I try it out this weekend:

If there’s a point to today’s rambling, it’s “don’t be afraid to mix the found with the handmade” – that synergy will often enrich both kinds of components, bringing order to the found and natural richness to the handmade.

Mixing found objects with the handmade components

TGIF! Hove a lovely weekend, and stay cool.