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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It takes a few eggs to hatch an altar

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My altar from last year titled “Illumination”

Celebration Circle’s annual invitational event, One People, Many Paths: The Sacred Art of Altars, is a personal favorite. It’s a challenge to take one of 50 plain wooden boxes and transform it into a personal artistic statement with meaning, maybe some humor, and a visual appeal that will encourage people to bid on it to benefit this very cool group of spiritual creatives. Last year’s altars show the amazing variety of artful offerings.

My altar for this year started with some eggs from the next-door neighbor’s chickens. I loved their shape and texture, plus there’s always the notion of what will hatch. When my friend Zippy found a nest that seemed made for the altar box, it started to come together. Want to see? Here’s how I made my altar titled “Brood, Hatch, Fly.”

Lyn Belisle "Brood, Hatch, Fly - wood, earthenware, plexiglass, found objects

Lyn Belisle “Brood, Hatch, Fly – wood, earthenware, plexiglass, found objects

Here is the quote that inspired “Brood, Hatch, Fly”:

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” C.S. Lewis

You can see all of the Celebration Circle altars (and bid on them) at the Santikos Bijou Theater in Wonderland Mall from September 1 – 30, 2015. Now go hatch and fly.

 

Creating with invisible directions

It’s hard to explain how it feels when the parts take over and show you where they need to go – sounds kind of weird. But I just finished a Shardian assemblage that did just that. This figurative piece had never existed before, so there were no directions, but the pieces fit together so smoothly that every piece that was put in place felt exactly right. I love it when that happens! Hmmm . . .this piece started right after my visit to Papa Jim’s . . . (hearing theme from Twilight Zone) . . .

 

Simple altars and luminous objects

The completed piece

“The Guardian of the Golden Bough” – Altar Assemblage, Lyn Belisie, 2013

Celebration Circle’s “One People, Many Paths: Sacred Art of Altars” exhibit opens on September 1st, and I am ready! Last year, when I was invited to participate in this wonderful event, I struggled with several ideas, including putting a Spirit Doll inside the box, which, unfortunately, made it look like a coffin. Yikes. My (finally) finished altar from last year was called The Guardian of the Golden Bough (left). It was a good solution and popular with the silent auction bidders.

This year’s altar, “Luminosity,” came together almost all by itself – I found a small branch in the driveway as I was bringing in the bare altar box and propped it against the side. Perfect – and after that, everything just came together, including the quote mounted on plexiglass which says, “It is when the ordinary becomes luminous that we are transformed.” The altar is white, simple and luminous, made from ordinary objects.  Simple is good. I am happy!

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“Luminosity” – Altar Assemblage, Lyn Belisle 2014

But I often wonder why some pieces, such as last year’s altar, are such a struggle to make, and others, like this year’s, seem to fly into your hands as if they knew they were supposed to be there. It’s a mystery. Let me know if you have the answer.

DSCN3240PS – No Friday Freebie this week, but if you are around, don’t miss tomorrow’s Show and Tell at the Studio from 2-4 – it’s definitely free, and you’ll get all kinds of free tips and techniques from the participating artists. The resident chef will be there, too, to show you a cool culinary trick. Hope to see you at Show and Tell!