Altered paper, enduring magic

Ahhh – the smell of Citrasolv was in the air yesterday afternoon. Brushed onto the pages of National Geographic magazine, it never fails to turn photographs into otherworldly abstract patterns. When strips and scraps of this paper are combined, magic happens!

No matter how many times I teach this workshop, the results are fabulous – fresh, original and intriguing. Here’s a short video of the workshop participants creating their outstanding work in yesterday’s Small Worlds: Abstract Landscapes and Altered Paper gathering (If you can’t see the video, click here):

Lyn Belisle Workshop: Altered Paper Collage from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

Each person chose one of his or her works to mat, and here are their favorites:

Wally

Wally

Mackenzie

Mackenzie

Claire

Claire

5

Jan

Pamela

Pamela

3 copy

Linda

I taught a comprehensive version of this class at Artful Gathering several summers ago, and the DVD is available here.

There are also a number of free, online resources on this technique, including this really good one from Cathy Taylor.

This is one of those simple processes that rarely fails and is a lot of fun to put together! Happy Citrasolv sniffing!

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What do you have to say to yourself?

That was the question in yesterday’s workshop at the studio called “Postcards to Myself.”

It’s a new workshop, one that I designed to see if we, as artists, create unconscious messages to ourselves as we work on art pieces that combine random images and text. The small works that were produced were amazingly lyrical, and many did seem to have meaningful messages.

The project itself was done in seven stages on an 11×14″ sheet of archival matboard.

  • Stage One – images and objects
  • Stage Two – veiling
  • Stage Three – vintage text chosen randomly
  • Stage four – enhancement and alteration
  • Stage five – selection
  • Stage six – wax or acrylic medium
  • Stage Seven – interpretation

When the collage layers were complete, 4×6″ post-card size areas were selected with transparent plexiglass rectangles. Those were cut out, and then finished either with beeswax or acrylic mat medium. We even wrote notes to ourselves on the backs of our “postcards.”

postcard

In the example above, this postcard-size section from the larger work shows faces from two different cultures and contains words such as “separate,” “restrain,” and “ruin.” It sounds like a trailer for a mini-drama! And yet it’s a completely coincidental juxtaposition within the larger collage.

We had such fun and learned so much from this project. I’ll definitely repeat it, and will probably create an eBook with with a list of materials and instructions. In the meantime, please enjoy the video from “Postcards to Myself.”

By the way, the first prototype postcard I did included text that said “eat one’s words” – so I was very careful about what I said during our critique!

proto

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Tissue techniques and encaustic exploration

15We had a full house for yesterday’s Wax and Tissue workshop. Everyone was particularly interested in how to print images on delicate tissue paper. If you do an Internet search, you’ll find all kinds of methods to do this.

Most of the methods involve taping or tacking the tissue on all four sides to a sheet of regular copy paper. I just cut the paper slightly smaller than the copy paper, put two pieces of clear tape at the top, and run that sucker through the printer. So far, so good – I printed about 25 sheets for the workshop and had only two of them crunch up in the printer. Not bad odds considering how thin tissue paper is.

In my example below, you can see how the bird image, printed on tissue paper, becomes translucent when wax is applied over it. It’s always interesting to see how unpredictable the translucent images appear when wax is applied over them. Different kinds of tissue yield different results. I use just plain old wrapping tissue and I iron it first to get the creases out. Works like a charm.

eliz

Lyn Belisle, demonstration piece done during wax and tissue workshop

You can see in my demo piece, above, that the bird image, which was printed on plain white tissue, has a translucency that conceals and reveals elements of the collage above and below it. In the workshop, we started with two opaque “anchor” images and then added layers of wax and tissue to build up our narratives. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience – everyone was experimenting and developing the best stories as the process evolved. Here’s the video – what do you think? Pretty cool, right?

If you’d like to see what the supply list looks like, you can go to Roses on my Table, a site developed by the fantastic Zinnia from Artful Gathering. Michelle Belto and I have an online class there on Wax and Tissue, but you don’t have to register for the class to get the supply list. You can just click on the Material and Supply List link to see both sources and “ingredients” for this project.

Encaustic Month at Lyn Belisle Studio ended on a high note! And mark your calendar for next Saturday’s Show and Tell from 2-4 pm. Happy Monday!

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Seth Apter, master of mixed media and a darn nice guy

Seth Apter had been an Art Hero of mine long before I heard he was coming to Texas from NYC. His work is a fusion of fine art, accessible craft and  mixed media exploration that I so often try to achieve. Only he does it consistently, and seemingly effortlessly. Check out his work and you’ll see what I mean.

On Thursday I got a chance to  work with him in person (woohoo) at his all-day Collage Camp workshop sponsored by Roadhouse Arts. I learned a lot about collage techniques, and even more about approaches to teaching. Seth is a master at constructive critique. All of us appreciated his feedback. I only wish I could have taken the next thresethe days of classes with Seth, but, alas, I needed to be in Bulverde for the opening of my encaustic show, Coeur Samples, with Michelle Belto.

But guess who showed up at our opening at Dan Pfeiffer’s Gallery yesterday evening – Seth! He came with Bulverde friends Lisa and John Meyer. What a treat! I told him that having him there definitely added to the show’s mojo!

One of the things that makes Seth such a fine teacher is the way he organizes his classes, step by step, and in a logical way that helps you internalize the steps and elements. In the Collage Camp, we started with a series of eight small collages, each of which demonstrated one of Seth’s design principals.  These will serve as an informal reference book for future work. Here are some photos from our day together – what a fantastic group with an unforgettable teacher.

You’ll enjoy looking around Seth Apter’s website – he told us that he’s getting ready to launch a new line of mixed media tools and products that will enhance anyone’s mixed media work, info at the link below – I am grateful to have met him – isn’t learning new stuff fun?

sethban

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-large-1339814400

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!

eBook and Friday Freebie

TGIF, y’all – some of you hopefully downloaded the free eBook I did on Dimensional Collage for the Gaian Soul Retreat on Whidbey Island  in March. And some of you have asked for more information on my new beeswax collage process, especially since last weekend’s workshop was such a success.

3 So – tah dah! I’ve written a new eBook called Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage The 34-page PDF eBook describes my new encaustic process, gives suggestions for photo sources, and includes a gallery of examples.

This one isn’t free. I’m embarking on my first step toward a publishing empire – yahaha. Only kidding. But I did want to see how selling eBooks online worked, so I figured out how to set up a PayPal button on my website. And this little gem of a book can be yours for a mere $5.99. That’s less than a Double Meat Whataburger! I started to ask $6 but marketing people say do the 99 cent thingy. Here’s the link to my first-ever “eBooks For Sale” page.

beescoverwebadMy friend Rosemary, who encouraged me to get this thing done and out there, just read it and said, “It’s like being in the room with you!  Everything seems to be here, the pictures make it clear.  It’s really wonderful!” My first review! Yay!

Anyway, Behind the Veil: Beeswax and Collage is available on my website, and I will give away a free download as a Friday Freebie to one lucky subscriber to SHARDS, name to be drawn Sunday night.

If you decide to buy the eBook, and something doesn’t work, for heaven’s sake let me know! But so far, so good. Thanks for reading my blog!! Happy weekend.

veilcvover

Beeswax Collage Workshop – five stars!

noraIf you’ve kept up with my new work, you know how excited I am about my beeswax collage series using early 20th-centure photographs.

Along the way, I’ve developed some techniques for using beeswax and pigment on paper that have worked well for me, but I hadn’t taught the process until yesterday afternoon at the Studio.

I wasn’t sure if other people would be able to get the same results, but it was fantastic! Everyone was so happy with their finished pieces, and had a million ideas about taking this process to new levels with their own personal photos. Take a look!

 

Jane Davies is amazing

Have you ever seen an artist’s work that consistently delights you and fosters a sense of kinship and recognition? Jane Davies does that for me. I discovered her work through her book, Collage Journeys. Jane is incredibly generous with her techniques and has a number of short (and free!) tutorials on You Tube. Here’s an example – I hope you are as inspired by her work as I am.

So you are ever stuck for ideas (and who isn’t?) – just get on that computer and Google the incredible Jane Davies.

Curious evolution of a work on canvas

dissofmem2Where do art ideas come from? Darned if I know – Here’s a piece that invented itself from 12 clay face slabs I made last week just because I didn’t want to throw away too-dry clay. The piece is called “Dissolution of Remembrance” because forgetting the names of objects and misplacing small items worries me, and I know I’m not alone in that.

I used these unplanned clay pieces to address this worry through an art piece. I arranged the fired earthenware slabs in an almost irregular pattern on a 24×30″ canvas, then sewed and adhered them in place. First came a wash of walnut ink (of course). Then I added some red oxide acrylic paint – here’s what it looked like at that stage – kinda disjointed.

dissofmem0

I tried to make it more cohesive with various colors of paint, attempting to suggest a progression of memory loss, and finally got the idea of putting rusted wire inside each head – it didn’t really work. Suddenly, I remembered talking about cheesecloth in my last post, and added a layer of cheesecloth over the whole composition to unite the elements. That was a good decision.

After that, there was lots of action going on with matte medium and fabric stiffener. Next came a thin coat of encaustic wax. Finally I added branches to allude to the branching dendrites in the brain. Science occasionally comes in handy 🙂

dissofmem

The last element, silk cocoons, was another accident – the plastic bag of cocoons was open on the table nearby and the silk kept catching on the branches – well, duh – how obvious was that? So, on they went. Symbols of hatching new thoughts?

I’m not sure “The Dissolution of Remembrance” is completely finished, but it’s been amazing to watch the process as both the maker and the observer. Now if I could just remember where I put it –  – – only kidding. I think.  dissofmem1

That’s my story

Making art for an audience is tricky, and it brings out my Creeping Cowardly Conformity. I’m discovering that as I finish up a series of small collages on canvas that will be included in the San Antonio Art League show which opens Sunday, Nov. 2nd. The Art League is a venerable organization with lots of Real Painters, and being invited to participate is rather intimidating. Here is one of my pieces in a five-part series called “Copper Koan.” Like a lot of my work, it deals with the concept of shards and fragments of incomplete stories. A “koan” is a paradox to be meditated upon, and it seemed like a fine concept for this series (the series title is also a take-off on “copper coin.”)

copper koan

“Copper Koan: Wand” Lyn Belisle 2014

 

This is what it looked like yesterday (below) – I didn’t want to add a little face or any text because I thought that would make it look “too crafty” and “not sophisticated-ly abstract enough.” Arg . . .Creeping Cowardly Conformity makes us compromise. You make like this one better, and that’s super OK, but I kept thinking it looked incomplete and anonymous.

koan-reSo what the heck – I added the distressed earthenware face and the text fragment on my little Copper Koan, and now that they are there, I’m much happier with the piece. I hope my audience likes it, but we, as artists, gotta remember that we’re driving this Art Bus and if we take directions from our passengers, we’ll get everybody hopelessly lost. That’s MY story and I’m sticking to it!

PS. If you’d like to see the exhibit for yourself, please know that I’d love to have you there to discuss all of this and to see the work of my fellow artists – here’s your invitation! Feel free to share 🙂

belisleartleagueinvit