The art of poetry

I’m so lucky to count Pamela Ferguson among my friends. I’ve admired her poetry for a long time and loved her visits to my old studio where the Voices de la Luna poetry group met. And I got to see her in a new incarnation when she attended the Small Worlds workshop last weekend!

Pamela just sent me a poem inspired by her collage creation – I thought you’d like to see it. She addresses the very personal connection between the art we make and the words we write.

pamela copy

Here’s more about Pamela’s work:

Pamela Ferguson is a native of San Antonio and a proud resident of the Texas Hill Country. She is a late bloomer, having attained her BA in English at the age of 48. The desire to write has been with her as long as she can remember and this goal was achieved when she was hired a technical writer by a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company. Pamela has written poetry since she was a teen but got serious about it in the 1990’s. She has published numerous poems in literary journals across the States including The Journal of the Texas Council of Teachers of English, Aries, New Texas, and Lucidity. Winner of the 2006 Laurel Crown Poetry competition for her poem, “Hand me Down,” Pamela has participated in San Antonio area poetry festivals and readings, has received several awards, had many poems published in local journals.

Thanks, Pamela, for sharing your thoughts and image. I’m thinking that an art and poetry workshop might be on the horizon! I’m getting the summer and fall schedule together right now – this could be a winner!

romance of writing letters



Embracing the change – Nick says it’s OK

I am so excited about the new studio space! It should be open shortly after Thanksgiving, and I’ll tell you about the December workshop very soon. I spent yesterday lugging stacks of my old work and hauling new supply shelves into this lovely serene place of creative belonging.

A first look at the new space - do NOT look behind the screen yet - too terrifying and totally disorganized to describe :)

A first look at the new space – do NOT look behind the screen yet – too terrifying and totally disorganized to describe 🙂 I did that framed piece on the wall in 1976 – yikes – that’s a lotta art years

This whole year has been a tangle of change, fear, joy, sleep-robbing worry and  happy anticipation – all wound up into one giant hairball. But part of the useful stuff that I extracted from the hairball was a look at what has changed in my artwork and what has stayed the same.

Interestingly enough, my art has sorta circled back to a similar place that I was in 2011. At that point,  I was working with Renaissance images of women’s faces in collage with some dimensional elements – this piece is titled “Shutter Speed,” and it was in one of my first shows at La Vida Gallery.

Lyn Belisle Shutterspeed Mixed Media Collage on Canvas 2011

Lyn Belisle
Mixed Media Collage on Canvas

After that, I decided to begin combining three-dimensional faces rather than images of faces into assemblages. This series was called Encantos.

Lyn Belisle Assemblage with earthenware and mixed media 2012

Lyn Belisle
Assemblage with earthenware and mixed media 2012

When I worked with Gwen Fox in Taos, I wanted to use the same idea as part of an abstract painting.

Lyn Belisle Acrylic and dimensional clay on canvas 2013

Lyn Belisle
Acrylic and dimensional clay on canvas 2013

And then, abandoning the faces, I wanted to work in a purely abstract manner on canvas (but notice that the colors and the “feel” are similar). I brought circles and geometric shapes into this painting (those seem to follow me everywhere). My friend Ramesh owns this piece.

Lyn Belisle After the Fire Acrylic on Canvas

Lyn Belisle
After the Fire
Acrylic on Canvas

But guess what? For the past year or two, I’ve been working in collage again, this time with images of vintage faces and found objects with beeswax – it’s kinda come full circle. But the addition of wax is very exciting to me, and I will continue to explore it.

Lyn Belisle Eva's Bird Beeswax and mixed media collage 2015

Lyn Belisle
Eva’s Bird
Beeswax and mixed media collage 2015

So is this bad? Good? My newest art hero, Nicholas Wilton, would advise us to embrace the change and don’t think of one phase as better, just different. This short video is so worth watching. It packs a whole bunch of great notions into less than three minutes. Plus ol’ Nick is a cutie. Maybe I could get him to visit my new studio? Hmmmmm . . .







The last Carousel ride . . .

What a beautiful, busy,  bittersweet weekend  it was at Lyn Belisle Studio in Carousel Court. While the Studio itself will be open until the end of October, we had our final workshops there this past Saturday and Sunday.

Rosemary Uchniat led us through her signature Small Space Dyeing class on Saturday. She and I tried to remember how many of these great workshops she’s conducted at the Studio – at least four or five. They are always a success because she teaches methods that are no-fail and brilliantly simple.

Look at the delighted smiles on the faces of her students as they discuss their gorgeous results.

On Sunday, I taught a Mixed Media Portfolio class. As usual, the students astounded themselves (and me) with their dazzling creations. Take a look.

Teaching that class brought me full circle, appropriately enough. Ten years ago, getting back into art pretty much saved my life and my sanity after I went through a particularly bad time.

Back then, as a kind of self-designed art therapy, I began making handmade book covers that told a story.  Some were designed to fit over ebook readers like Kindles.They were popular with friends, so I opened my first Etsy shop and made and sold over 200 of these covers. The process gave me hope and confidence. Here’s a link to some of those early covers.


So, speaking of coming full circle, events at the Carousel Court Studio are not finished just yet – there will be a fantastic trunk show with Monika Astara on Saturday, October 15th, that you won’t want to miss. And there will be an October Show and Tell, details TBA. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’m headed to Santa Fe in two days with art pal Michelle Belto to teach at the Artisan Expo. My solo class, Engraven Images, is sold out! Woohoo!

The next SHARDS blog post will come to you live (sorta) from New Mexico.

Artisan Materials Expo 2016: Creative Ascension Welcome to the seventh biennial Artisan Materials Expo 2016: Creative Ascension, an event for every level of artist, featuring a fabulous selection of world-class art materials at discount prices, as well as opportunities to take classes. The Expo also welcomes the Encaustic Art Institute & International Encaustic Artists Retreat.



Smell this . . . . . .ahhhhhhh



Raise your hand if you know about aromatherapywow! That’s more people than I thought! It’s a wonderful practice, one that I’ve taught since 1990. Shortly after that, my biochemist friend Dr. Bill Kurtin and I began work on a new educational aromatherapy website called Chemaroma. We’ve just updated and expanded it, and we’re really excited about it. We may even get to participate in the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy conference later this year.

logosmall copy copy

So what’s in it for you? First of all, there are a bunch of free resources on the Chemaroma site, including a recipe called Stinky Sneaker Zapper that makes your track shoes smell like lavender. There are also some neat skin care recipes and such. And you can get essential oils at Whole Foods and Sprouts. There is even a special essential oil for creativity called Clary Sage – I’ll tell you about that one later. Essential oils are easy and fun, and you don’t have to be an aromatherapist to experience them.

So, if you want to experiment, here’s one of my favorite ways to use  essential oils – an aromatherapy bath salt project. I made this video about three or four years ago. Once you make these artistic little bath salt packets, you can use them for gifts, for craft markets, or just to store in your linen closet or underwear drawer until you are ready to open them and use them in the bath tub or shower 🙂 They make lovely aromatic sachets.

Got questions about aromatherapy? Visit Chemaroma or just email me. And the first person to contact me through the Chemaroma home page gets that packet of Gingergrass Bath Salts at the top of this post. Happy Friday!!

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!

Working with Caryl Gaubatz

caryl copy

Caryl Gaubatz: Allein auf der Welt 2015 Deconstructed silk screen printing on hand woven linen (Linen woven by Käthe Weber in der Nähe von Bremen Germany, 1947)

What a pleasure and honor it was to be invited to Caryl Gaubatz’s studio yesterday to explore new techniques in fiber art and surface design!

I am a huge fan of her work – her newest series of story-garments, A Meditation on Aging and Loss, touches my heart on every level.

I watched Caryl demonstrate a technique called Deconstructed Screen Printing last year at a Fiber Artists of San Antonio meeting. The results were fantastic and mysterious (see the example on the left), but I couldn’t figure out how she did it, even as i watched her demonstrate. So when she offered to teach the process to me and to calligrapher-friend  Bonnie Davis, I jumped at the chance. And as a bonus, we also got to practice some indigo/shibori techniques!

Caryl is a master. You can see some of our explorations in the photos below . .  .

Deconstructed Screen Printing is fun to do but hard to explain – Caryl learned from Kerr Grabowski. Here are some of my my results from yesterday – as Caryl said, it’s unpredictable! 

If you want to learn more about how it works (and it can work on paper as well as fabric), watch Kerr Grabowski’s video below. Many thanks to Caryl for all of this wonderful information, for her time and patience, and for a fantastic lunch – visiting her is a delight!

Snacks and wax!

Two great workshops raised the bar on creativity this weekend at the Studio – Saturday, Lesta and I did a four-hour marathon of “Art Snacks” – small protects that were quick and fun to create and give:

1 2 3Sunday, the Wax and Fiber Talisman workshop exceeded all expectation – what a great project! Everyone put together remarkable combinations of fabric, clay, wax and cord to make a rich assortment of mixed-media masterpieces! This is one we will definitely do again – thanks, all, for helping me test-drive it!

1 2 3Last, but not least, the winner of the Friday Freebie Free Bee dish is . . . tah dah . . . the lucky subscriber whose email is – send me your info and I’ll send you the bee!

Happy Monday, everyone!! And I hope to see you San Antonio pals at Thursday’s booksigning for Linda Shuler 🙂


First, the Studio — then the Alamodome!

stIf the Saturday Show and Tell gets any bigger, I’m gonna need to rent out the Alamodome! More than 40 people came to the Studio on Saturday to share creative ideas, show recent projects, and brainstorm solutions to works in progress. Many thanks!

One of the favorite “shows” was David Chidgey and his amazingly informative presentation regarding his work in mosaics. He brought examples of his work in glass and tile and described his course of mosaic study in Chicago.

David’s website, Art Glass Mosaics, is an excellent resource for information about his work and the art of mosaics in general.  I was quick to ask him if he would consider doing a mosaic workshop for us at the Studio – and he said yes! We are working on a possible November date, so stay tuned.

Another fascinating share was from Lynn Maverick Denzer – she brought an oil painting she is restoring that was done by her grandmother, artist and conservationist  Lucy Maverick.


Lynn teaches at Inspire Community Fine Arts Center, another great art education resource.

Other presruenters showed fiber art, including this mixed-media piece by Rosemary Uchniat (left). Questions and answers were flying around the table – lots of creative buzz going on. That’s why I love these Saturday Show and Tell get-togethers – there’s a wealth of talent in our community, and such generous people willing to share.

So I’m either going to buy more folding chairs or rent the Alamodome, because this informal Show and Tell event is a keeper! Hey, maybe next month we can expand out into the parking lot! Surely the first cool front will be here by then. Right?

Have a great week, everyone. And come to the next show and tell – date to be announced soon!

Monday two-fer – beautiful bones and beeswax

You get two art reviews for the price of one (yeah, I know, they are all free) but still –  I wanted to post Part Two of my Colorado Trip while it was still fresh in my mind, and I couldn’t wait to show you the video of yesterday’s Beeswax Collage workshop at my Studio (see the amazing video, below)!

Colorado Trip Part Two –  Georgia O’Keeffe at the Colorado Springs Art Center

Horse’s Skull on Blue – Georgia O’Keeffe 1931; Oil on canvas

Georgia O’Keeffe and the Southwestern Still Life is not strictly a “Georgia O’Keeffe show”, (which I should have known had I done my homework before we visited the exhibit). And thank goodness it isn’t, because when her work is placed beside that of her contemporaries – including modernists like Stuart Davis and Marsden Hartley as well as more traditional painters who were also lured by the Taos light –  O’Keefe’s cutting-edge brilliance shines.

One of her quotes that ran across a bright orange wall at the CSAC gallery read, “I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at – not copy it.” That, to me, was huge – and her work showed this journey into interpretation and abstraction through the loose structure of “still life.”.

I was so impressed by the juxtapositions and inclusions that I searched to see who had curated the exhibit. It was Charles C. Eldredge, former director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, who placed O’Keeffe’s work in the context of other artists who were influenced by the Southwest at the same time she was. The exhibit raised thought-provoking questions such as “What is a still life, really?” and “How does an artist chose represent an observation?”

I loved the show – my favorite painting was this one (below) – and my friend Carol Mylar and I talked for a very long time about why it was included as a still life, and why its powerful simplicity is so mesmerizing. For a much more educated and detailed review of Georgia O’Keeffe and the Southwestern Still Life, read Gayle Cement’s enlightening, enjoyable discussion of the works.


Georgia O’Keeffe Black Patio Door 1955

22And now . . . . .Fabulous Sunday Workshop – Wax and Layers and in Beeswax Collage

The smell of the beeswax, the roar of the crowd – what a workshop! Every single participant took the notion of wax enhancement on monochromatic collage and ran with it, creating evocative personal statements. I’ve recently added another hour to my workshop format, and three hours instead of two makes a huge difference. We have more time to critique and discuss – it obviously worked yesterday. Take a look at some of the inspired pieces the students created. Nice work, Y’all!

Colorado notes, part one – Carol and I visit Pueblo artist Karen Wallace

Carol and me in an earlier visit in the pursuit of art!

Carol and me in an earlier visit on our everlasting art quest 🙂

It never fails – every time I visit my dear friend Carol Mylar, I come home over-the-top inspired. Carol lives in Colorado Springs now, but we still share the same close ties in art and life as we did when we shared a studio on Queen Anne Street back in the 90’s. For example, we discovered we’d bought the same iPhone and the same iPhone case without knowing it – I’m sure you have friends like that, too – it’s kinda spooky but fun.

One of the best times we had during my short trip was a drive to Pueblo just south of the Springs to visit artist and writer Karen Wallace. Karen and I go back a very long way, but hadn’t seen each other in a few years. She’s amazing – her house, her life, her artwork are woven seamlessly into a fulfilling creative existence. You can get a glimpse of this in Karen’s book, Visions and Verse: Along the Path.

Karen lives in a small adobe casita that’s filled with her own art and that of friends, some nationally known painters. There are little altars and stories everywhere. Karen treated Carol and me to a lot of these stories before we went of for a lovely lunch in downtown Pueblo. It’s always so inspiring to see how other artist live and work – take a look at the home and studio of Karen Wallace (and her dog, Chamaya):

I’ll give a report on other parts of my Colorado trip soon, including the Georgia O’Keeffe show – too much for one post!