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.

 

 

The Story of The Enso Circle

Creative work is rarely done by a lone genius. Artists, writers, scientists and other professionals often do their most creative work when collaborating within a circle of like-minded friends. Experimenting together and challenging one another, they develop the courage to rebel against the established traditions in their field. Working alone or in pairs, then meeting as a group to discuss their emerging ideas, they forge a new, shared vision that guides their work. When circles work well, the unusual interactions that occur in them draw out creativity in each of the members.

Michael Farrell, Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics and Creative Work (2001)

After six years of hatching, percolating, and polishing this concept, Michelle Belto and I are (at last) introducing you to The Enso Circle, our Invitational Online Artists’ Residency program. When we previewed the new website to several artist friends, here were their reactions:

  • “I just read your note on the class/residency that you and Michelle will be teaching and just wanted to let you know that this sounds truly amazing. Love both of your artwork and this sounds perfect! I have been creating art for over 50 years so I think it’s time I joined your tribe.” Bosha S.
  • “Brilliant idea. Brava!” Jean D.
  • “What a fabulous idea!!! Love this! This is a BRILLIANT venture!” Christine S.

When we began talking about what has ultimately become The Enso Circle, we wanted to create a structured, collaborative community that we ourselves would want to belong to.

This community would offer a supportive space in which to both expand and focus our present art practice, and to offer us a safe place for sharing ideas with like-minded creatives. It would have a starting time and an ending time, and be long enough to be meaningful but short enough to keep the energy going.

We knew from experience that we both need certain guidelines to make this work for us. Among those are:

  • A time-defined goal to motivate us (an art show submission, an article deadline, a workshop design, a group exhibit)
  • Private time to generate or refine a creative concept
  • A concrete plan to reach our goal with focus but flexibility
  • Group time to get feedback on where we are, where we were, and where we are going with our project
  • A collection of resources, always available, that can give us both technical and aesthetic advice and answers
  • Input from mentors outside the community who have expertise and objectivity
  • Small-group opportunities to brainstorm and problem solve the small steps in the process that sometimes get us stuck

Why did we name our community The Enso Circle? Because the Enso is a manifestation of the artist at the moment of creation and the acceptance of our innermost self. It symbolizes strength, elegance, and one-mindedness.

The very imperfections and hand-created contours are exactly what makes the Enso beautiful.

If you want to cut to the chase and learn more right this moment, just click here.

(And here’s what I know that you’re wondering up front . . .the program costs $325, it’s 12-weeks long, only 12 people can be accepted, and yes, it’s absolutely worth it)

But there’s more, and it’s important – and unusual – read on:

The Enso Circle is based on the idea of an Artist’s Residency – a twelve-week commitment that results in a personal body of work, large or small, conceived and completed through goals that you set with the support of the community throughout the process. You do need to apply and have a goal in mind, although that can change over the course of the term.

The Enso Circle is a unique experience for several reasons.

  • It has all the advantages of an in-depth workshop: resources, technique videos, handouts and printables.
  • Like an academic residency, it allows you to select your individual goal and work toward it with peer and mentor support.
  • It has the power of a critique group through frequent informal Zoom meetings and discussions in our private Slack space.
  • It is led by nationally known teacher/artists Michelle Belto and Lyn Belisle, who will model the process by working toward their own goals right along with you during the three-month program.
  • And it culminates in an online exhibition.
  • Lyn and Michelle plan to offer three twelve-week Residency terms throughout the year. The first one will start on March 2nd, 2021.

Here’s an up-close and personal invitation from both of us, via our Zoom recording. Just click on the video image.

VIMEO LINK

We hope you choose to apply to be one of the first twelve residents of The Enso Circle!

HERE’S THE LINK TO THE ENSO CIRCLE CLASSROOM./RESIDENCY WEBSITE WITH ALL THE INFORMATION AND THE APPLICATION FORM FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Thanks for reading – you’ll know if it’s right for you, and if it’s not, thanks for learning about our Enso Circle story!

Take good care,

Lyn

A cat gallery and a surprise workshop

(The Surprise Workshop is at the bottom of this post – but first, check out the cats)

 

What is it about cats? One of my online workshops is calledThe Mystical Cat Shaman,” and the photos I’m getting from students of their magical critters are just brilliant. I thought you’d like to see a few of them.

This one is by JoliBlanch, who writes, “I wanted to do a 2020 healing shaman. So in that spirit, since cats and birds don’t usually socialize,  the birds are there symbolic of The wish for unity among all peoples. The heart is the love energy needed, the blue crystal is healing energy, and the gold bead represents the God energy. The milagros on either side represent the magic we all need now. So – angel wings, dragons, unicorn and faerie energy.”

Next, we have two Cat Shamans by Barbara Linderman. She says, “I took your online Cat Shaman class this summer.  Attached are pics of my two creations.  It had been a while since I had done any kind of mixed media work and your class has inspired me to do more.”

Meet “The Collector” and “The Fortune Teller.”

Finally, here are some figures that go in their own fabulous direction by doll-maker Kathryn Hall. She notes. “I really enjoyed your video class Lyn, so thought I’d show you my take on it.  I made two cats and two crows.  I make my own faces from polymer clay.” 

Look at these faces! And the bodies!

All of these pieces are so creative. When I teach a workshop, i hope for exactly this – original artwork inspired by my lessons but not copied from my work! Yay!

I’m so grateful to all the makers in the Cat Circle – I’ll share more soon. The workshop is still available if you are ready to make you own Cat (or crow – or dog?) Shaman. Just click here to checkout the free preview lessons.

_______________________________________________________________________

And now — the SURPRISE WORKSHOP!!!

In one of our first collaborations, Michelle Belto and I did a class called Mask, Robe, and Rune.

Michelle just made this workshop available on her Teachable site. It’s a wonderful project that combines faces, waxed collage papers, free-standing sculptures, and spooky runes and writings. Because it’s been previous published, you can sign up for just $29 for the entire course with both of us team teaching.

Here’s an example of the Mask, Robe and Rune mixed-media assemblage – you will learn to make those great papers to use as the “robes” on the figures – and much more. Thanks, Michelle!! Here’s that link.

Remember what our ancestors told us“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” You don’t want any devils in your workshop. Check out the Cat Shaman and Mask, Robe and Rune and keep your hands out of trouble!

 

 

From frustration to fruition, blobs and all

Do you have a “frustration pile”?  It’s a stack of artwork that isn’t bad enough to trash or paint over completely, but it isn’t going anywhere, and maybe never will.

While I was working on my Lotus Book workshop, I found several 11×14″ encaustic and mixed media collages in that pile that had never quite come together for me and were just sitting there. It occurred to me that I could make cover-sized (4.5″ x 4.5″) squares for Lotus Books from the work.

Here’s one of those collages. It’s not terrible, but it lacks focus and purpose. I remember that I was trying six or seven techniques, and I learned a lot, but the piece already looks as if it’s begging to be  cut into squares. Right?

I whacked it mercilessly (but carefully) with my trusty Ingento paper cutter. Here are the resulting six book covers.

If you’ve taken my free Lotus Book workshop, you know that the back side of a cover doesn’t have to be waxed because the pages stick directly to it.

But there is one more important step to make these more suitable for Lotus Book covers. Because the paper cutter leaves a clean, but unfinished edge, it’s best to dip each of the four edges into the wax medium to smooth and seal them.

You can see, below, that the wax-dip barely noticeable, but it makes a big difference in helping the newly-cut covers feel finished.

Here’s a tip – let the dipped edges cool a bit before you turn it to dip the next edge. Otherwise, you will end up with a blob.

Oops. The blob can be scraped off, but best to do it right and be patient (which is NOT one of my best virtues).

And, Voila! A new Lotus Book arises like the Phoenix from the Pile of Frustration!

Now, if you have sharp eyes, you’ll see that I left the Blob on that cover. Blobs add character, and don’t let anybody talk you out of your blobs, personal or artistic! Perfection is boring.

A couple of notes:

The free Lotus Book workshop is going strong, and I encourage you to check out my workshop studio on Teachable. You’ll be joining a group of almost 200 satisfied lotus-bookies. Here’s the link.

If you want to see a fun, short video on a related subject, check out my buddy Michelle Belto‘s take on reusing her encaustic collages – it will inspire you to start cutting! Here’s the link.

Be safe, trust the process, and celebrate your blobs today!

Lyn

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Fe, Round Two

My workshop on Saturday at the Artisan Exp in Santa Fe once again proved to me that starting with a good grasp of composition works magic in any collage-based process. I discussed my Composition AB3’s ( Alignment, Breathing Room and Thirds) and demonstrated how easy it is to master these guidelines.

Voila! Every person produced a really good encaustic collage, all different, but all strong in subject, vision, and composition. Below are some of the pieces in process, and some that are completed. (If you can’t see the images, click here to view them in your browser.)

One of the participants, artist, author and tarot reader Arwen Lynch-Poe, documented her process and with her permission, I’ll use her photos to show you how she put her piece together. (If you can’t see the images, click here to view them in your browser.)

So between Encaustic Bling with Michelle Belto on Friday and Engraven Images on Saturday, the Santa Fe workshops were super fun and successful!

And if you want to take this workshop, you still can. I’m teaching the all-day version, plus a Wax, Earthenware and Fiber Talisman class at ViVi Magoo in Round Top in three weeks.

vm

Update note: Since I returned from Santa Fe on Monday, I’ve looked at a couple of places for new workshop venues – and there are several good possibilities.. . .more soon.

But the good ol’ Studio isn’t closed yet! We still have a fantastic event coming up a week from today. It’s Monika Astara’s popular trunk show and sale of exquisite, artistic fashions!  Here’s more info – hope to see you there.

monika

Right now I’m off to the Trinity Alumni Art Showcase where I’ll be showing and selling my Encanto earthenware and sari ribbon mixed-media pieces. Wish me luck!

earth5

 

Save

Save

Santa Fe Whirlwind

So I went to Santa Fe – yeah, I know, I didn’t call, I didn’t write – I definitely didn’t blog! It was a crazy experience – fun, intense, exciting, exhausting. 

The huge Buffalo Thunder Resort Hotel just outside Santa Fe was the venue for the giant Artisans Materials Expo where I taught two encaustic workshops as part of the Encaustic Art Institute (EAI) and International Encaustic Artists (IEA) conference and retreat. Internet reception was very spotty there (that’s my excuse for not keeping in touch).

However, they did have an astonishingly extensive collection of Native American art pieces throughout the huge hotel – some traditional , some contemporary. It was eye candy for the soul 🙂

Michelle Belto was a great teaching teammate and travel partner. She is also a riot to hang out with. She taught a solo workshop on Thursday, we co-taught on Friday, and I taught a solo workshop on Saturday. Here are some photos from our Friday “Wax and Bling” class. There was glitz everywhere – fun stuff.

Friday night was the opening of  the Making Your Mark juried exhibit at the EAI Gallery in the Santa Fe Railyard art district. Michelle and I both had pieces in the show. The juror, David Limrite, was at the opening and gave a gracious statement about the 57 pieces work he selected for a field of over 200 entries.

The exhibit is a showcase of the many ways in which artists work in wax.

Here is a video presentation I made for the Santa Fe conference. It introduces the finalists for 2016 La Vendéenne Awards which honor excellence in encaustic painting. The awards took place on Saturday night.

This introduction will give you an idea of the depth and breadth of expertise present in artists who practice the versatile and ancient art medium of encaustic.

This ends Part One of the Santa Fe Report – stay tuned for Part Two later in the week which will include a couple of interesting links for you to check out as well as more photos……..

Save

So much to show, so much to tell . . .

Saturday’s Show and Tell was one of the best – everything from Fairy Houses to paper-making to poetry. Michelle Belto‘s demonstration of how easy it is to make your own paper was a real eye-opener for those who’d never tried this process.

Her system is ingenious and can be done in a small space. Michelle will be teaching this method in an upcoming Artful Gathering class, but we got a Sneak Preview yesterday!

01c0a5961ec2c904ae682505d8b5de0db730b58c86_00001

There were lots of other fantastic S&T-ers, including the always-amazing Vicky Siptak, who showed a Fairy House that she had made for her granddaughter. It’s weatherproof to keep the fairies snug and warm in the garden, and it has its own guardian dragon. And our poets, Tom Schall and Harold Rodinsky, graced us with their eloquence. Take a look at the video:

For my own Show and Tell, I needed to share, sadly, that my space in Carousel Court will be closing at the end of October. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that my lease is up.

But I will continue having workshops (mixed media and pottery) and other gatherings in my new space soon – more to come on that. If you’ve been with me for five years or so, you’ll remember those workshops at my home studio and how much fun they were. Sometimes change is energizing, and the Studio (and SHARDS) will live on!

Wise One (detail) by Linda Rael

In the meantime, September is filled with workshops and shows, including the show that Linda Rael and I are having on September 9th and 10th. It’s called EARTHWORKS, and all of the pieces in this two-day show are inspired by natural materials. Please join us!

earthworks copy

In the next SHARDS post, I’ll show you some techniques that Lesta Frank and I developed last week while we were working on ideas for our Whiter Shades of Pale workshop. The September 17th workshop is full, but there will be another session offered in early October – stay tuned!

light angel

Save

Save

Encaustic inspiration – free!

eaicoverHooray! The new FREE issue of ENCAUSTIC ARTS MAGAZINE is online and ready to drool over. If you’ve ever wondered why “encaustic” (incorporating and exploring wax as an art form) is so fascinating, this will give you the answer, big time. You are strongly encourage to subscribe for free if you haven’t already.

Some of the ideas that I stole – er, I mean, was inspired by – in this issue were these intriguing orbs by Jamie Lee Hoffer. The artists says, “The encaustic medium has all the elements that inspire my creativity and push my boundaries.” eaiorbs

Another artist’s works that I found thought-provoking were the books constructed by Erin Keane from Asheville, NC. She writes, “I’m very deliberate in my image making;It’s an odd combination of precision and frenzy. I will construct and contemplate, arrange and re-arrange, until finally pieces fall into place and I am overwhelmed with a visceral response.” Wow.

eiabutterfly copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many pages and photographs of beautiful art in this free online publication. Even if you have no intention of ever melting a block of beeswax, check this out. Read the artists’ statements for a valuable lesson in how to write about your art. ENCAUSTIC ARTS MAGAZINE is published by the Encaustic Art Institute, a national organization headquartered in Santa Fe.

Finally, I would be remiss without once again thanking dear friend Michelle Belto who introduced me to this wonderful world of wax. Here is her national teaching schedule for next year (found on p.130 in the EA magazine) – if you are lucky enough to be able to sign up for one of her classes, do it! Happy reading, happy inspirations!

iaemichelle

 

It’s almost showtime . . .

coeur

danmeat

William Henke’s Uptown Henke Meat Market, now a contemporary art gallery

Michelle Belto and I went to Fredericksburg, Texas yesterday to check out the space for our upcoming duo exhibit at  Dan Pfeiffer’s gallery. The space is an architectural wonder, a 120-year-old meat market which Dan converted into a stunning art gallery.

Dan’s architectural background gave him a reverence for the original structure, and you can see lots of the original trappings of the market, such as the huge meat grinder, which looks kind of like a contemporary metal art object. Dan’s own work is fantastic – carved wood sculptures and furniture that are an amazing blend of artistic form and practical function.

_DSC3746_300ppiOur show is called “Coeur Samples,” and I thought of the name when Michelle first showed me her new sculptural pieces. They resemble blocks of iridescent material that could have come from the heart of a mysterious planet –  and they fit well with my PhotoEncaustic work which samples a moment in time through vintage photographs. “Coeur” is French for “heart” – so, voila – the show became Coeur Samples: Encaustic Explorations. Although Michelle and I have taught together many times, we have never exhibited together, so I hope you can get yourself to Fredericksburg to see our first-time duo show next month. Here are a few photos from yesterday’s visit with Dan at the gallery – we’re excited, and grateful to Dan for hosting our work in this amazing space.

 

PhotoEncaustic – what I’m learning in school

To get prepared for my Beeswax Collage workshops, I’m taking a fairly intensive online course with PhotoEncaustic artist Clare O’Neill. There are about 24 people in the class, and we meet both on Facebook and in the online classroom to watch Clare’s videos and to question and critique our work. I love the flexibility of the class. We’re in our third week right now. Here’s a video of Clare’s work – you can see why I was attracted to it. She’s passionate about what she does and she’s a good teacher, too.

Here are three practice pieces that I’ve competed so far. The first and second ones are my own still-life photos and the third one is a vintage photo from Flickr Commons. I have a long way to go, but have already learned soooooo much from Clare and the other people in the class. (There are still some spaces in the second Beexwax Collage workshop on May 17th at my Studio if you want to sign up and see what I’ve learned) –

PhotoEncaustic 1 - Lyn Belisle - mounted on wood

PhotoEncaustic 1 – Lyn Belisle – mounted on wood

Tissue and wax PhotoEncaustic

 

 

 

 

Encaustic and vintage photo - Lyn Belisle

Encaustic and vintage photo – Lyn Belisle

NOTE: A great source for all things encaustic is my friend Michelle Belto’s book, Wax and Paper Workshop. All of her techniques and tips can be used with PhotoEncaustic, and it’s a perfect book for beginners who want to explore the possibilities of working with wax as an art form.

If you’d like a gentle introduction to the technique, Michelle and I have collaborated in an online class about Wax and Tissue if you’d like to check it out. Here’s the link – it’s at Roses on my Table art community. Online classes are really fun, particularly since you can learn at your own pace.

Back to the Wax!!