. . .that’s when I knew her name

One of my favorite poets and people, Pamela Ferguson, contacted me recently to see if I’d teach a Wax and Talisman workshop for her small group, and I said “Of course!”. Pamela had taken the Small Worlds workshop last March and I wrote about her work here in an earlier post.

Teaching this talisman workshop is so rewarding – it’s the subject of my latest ebook, and one of the most personal workshops that I offer. So I was excited to be teaching it “live,” especially when I found out that Pamela’s granddaughter Caitlyn would be in the group. It’s fun to see how different generations respond to an art challenge.

Pamela’s group came to the studio yesterday and we had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. The workshop has three components:

  • Personalizing the earthenware face piece and painting melted beeswax wax on the surface
  • Making rolled paper “blessing beads” and adding texture, beeswax, and metallic enhancements
  • Tying symbolic ribbons and cord to the focal piece and stringing the beads

Every step has meaning and intention. I asked the students to let their intuition lead them and to see what would happen. I also asked them to name their pieces when we finished.

This is Caitlyn’s piece – she is a senior in high school and very perceptive about herself and others. She adores her grandmother, Pamela.

Her blessing beads are beautiful, and I like the way she has grouped them at the bottom edge of the face. During discussion time, I asked Caitlyn what she had named her talisman. She said the name kept shifting as she got deeper and deeper into the process, but it had ended up as “Venus” – not what she’d expected. We all understood what she meant !

This morning, I got an email from Pamela saying how much they had enjoyed the workshop. Then she told me that Caitlyn had started talking about her talisman as they were driving home. Her words were almost an impromptu poem, which Pamela wrote down.

Read Caitlyn’s poem and look at the talisman she created which inspired it – lovely.

Talisman
by Caitlyn
Venus is her name –
    the two sides of her face
    the two sides of love
 
The light side has golden glow
The ribbons are bright, peachy,
      lots of strands, beads, charms.
 
The other side is dark –
the walnut stain soaked deeply.
The copper tear by her eye was accidental
      but love can cause pain.
That’s when I knew her name –
      the tear, the dark side.
And those ribbons are thin, stringy –
black, gray – sadder somehow.
 
I didn’t mean for her to be Venus
      the goddess of love
but that’s how she came out.

It’s all about trusting the process – letting go of what we expect and letting the intuitive take over. I’m very glad that Caitlyn’s work and poetry expresses this so perfectly – she didn’t mean for her to be Venus, the goddess of love, but that’s how she came out!

But wait, there’s more! Pamela, a published poet, had her own insight about the process. She sent me her poem this morning, as well – it’s titled “Paper Bead,” but it’s about much, much more.

Paper Bead

     by Pamela Ferguson

 

Cut a strip of paper,

long

narrow

Write a secret word,

a power word

a sacred one –

a promise – a passion –

a vision word.

 

Glue the strip

almost end to end

side to side.

Coat your word

with protection.

 

Lay a skewer on the almost end –

roll the strip onto the tiny dowel

until your word is cocooned within –

held by the power of your hands

the dowel

the glue.

 

Bedeck the roll with ribbon

or string or yarn-

chain or silk or sinew.

 

Seal in place with that most

basic of adherents –

pure, warm beeswax.

Coat the cocoon.

Seal your word

in the unique world you make

and remake each day.

Add its shape and your word

to your memory’s bliss.

 

Then do another.

 

Don’t you love the way the creative process works with work and words? I especially like Pamela’s last line, “Then do another.” It means that we can do this any time, this expressing our best thoughts through our art and our poetry. It’s so comforting and liberating.
Thanks, Pamela and Caitlyn, grandmother and granddaughter, for sharing your artwork and your poetry.
PS I’m always happy to arrange a small group workshop for you – you don’t even have to be an artist or a poet!

 

 

 

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Friday resources, mostly free, all fabulous

But first, before we get to those resources, wanna hear a story? OK, so I needed to find a home for a wonderful easel that Nancy Powlas had given me several years ago. It had belonged to her late sister, and I loved it, but didn’t have room for it in my new studio space. When I got it, it was bent at the back, so I took a rubber mallet and whacked it straight.

Some arty intuition told me to call Lesta Frank to see if she would like it. She came to look at it and said, “Hey, I used to have an easel just like that that I gave away 17 years because it was bent, but I always regretted giving it up.”

And of course, as all good stories go, it turned out to be the very same easel that Lesta had given up and was now returned to her from the Mysterious Art Universe.

lesta

Lesta and easel, reunited at last

So now on to these free resources, most of which are image goldmines for mixed-media artists and designers.

The first one is Pixabay, which has a searchable index of thousands of copyright-free photos and illustrations. I did a search for “rust” and found this beauty – look at the colors and textures! Thanks to Leannah Kurtin Fulmer for reminding me of Pixabay.

rust

The second resource, Unsplash, came to me via Ivy Newport, an imaginative, inspiring and successful artist and teacher – she has curated a collection of portrait photos at Unsplash that are gorgeous. The photos at Unspalsh are offered without restriction – their motto is “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.” Wow. Here’s one from Ivy’s collection – just think of all the ways you could use this evocative face.

woman

Another photo resource, also free, is Noah Bradley’s Free Photo Reference Megapack. Noah Bradley is an artist and fantasy author who is building an amazing illustrated world called The Sin of Man. He has photos from all over the world to download and use as backgrounds and reference. I downloaded his American Southwest collection and his France and England collection – they are huge albums.

Here are two examples from those collections.

england southwest

The last resource was suggested to me by my friend Linda Krantz. a wonderfully perceptive artist from Houston who was in my class at Vivi Magoo a couple of weeks ago. It’s called MadRat Rubbergreat name. While they don’t have free images, they have the most original and amazing stamps and other cool stuff for mixed-media artists.madrat

Here’s onenot your everyday stamp design, right? And their prices are very competitive, plus you can get them mounted or unmounted.

So now you have lots of places to get inspiration. Print out the photos, tear them up and collage them, stamp into them, veil them with paint and scribble over the paint. That’s going to be the first workshop at the new studio – Intuitive Photocollage!

And if you know a bit of digital imagery manipulation, you can work on you computer to combine these resources into something totally new – like this!

memory

Happy weekend –  if you’re in San Antonio, bundle up – it’s finally gonna feel like Thanksgiving weather. Thanks, as always, for reading SHARDS.

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Big Ol’ Sale Saturday and more . . . .

I’m posting my newsletter info to SHARDS subscribers because there’s so much going on in the next couple of weeks at the Studio – take a look and join us if you’re in the San Antonio area.

BIG SALE – I’m very excited about this – Lesta and Alison and I always have a fantastic time, and Michelle Belto will be joining us on Saturday. Her encaustic work has been shown all over the world – you will love it. This BIG SALE will be fun. Date: This Saturday November 28th, time: 10-4, place: my good ol’ Studio. I’ll have tons of new earthenware shards and gifties and Bee Dishes and faces! Please join us for art and Chef Mike’s snacks.

blacksat

Aha! – and speaking of snacks, Lesta and I have decided to have an Art Snacks workshop the afternoon of Saturday, December 5th. So what an Art Snack? It’s a project that you can learn and complete in a short time to give as a gift or to keep. Here are some of the art snacks you will make and take that afternoon:

  • A folding votive candle card
  • A hand-painted collaged luggage tag
  • An origami gift tag ornament
  • A bookmark

It will be a fun way to spend some creative time of your own during a very busy season. You can read more about it and sign up here, tuition is $75, all materials included.

snacksinvit copy

By the way, there are two spaces left in the Wax and Fiber Talisman workshop the next day, Sunday December 6th. This workshop is a bit quieter and more process-focused – check it out.

The next official Show and Tell will be on Saturday, January 30 – yikes, a long time away, but we will have a LOT to talk about. And there may be a little surprise “pop-up” Show and Tell over the holidays – I’ll send out an email in advance.

Please join us at the BIG SALE this Saturday!!

Lyn

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

A two-day encounter of the art-full kind

wsWhat was I thinking? Two full-day workshops at the Studio back-to-back? A weekend of hanging out, creating, eating and talking with eight other like-minded souls?  How would all of that look? It looked FANTASTIC!

Saturday was Belisle’s Collage Extravaganza and Composition Challenge. We worked on two major pieces – a collage on canvas with extreme emphasis on composition (the AB3s) and a collage on cradle board with image transfers and encaustic wax. The intrepid participants gave it their all, and we were very tired but happy at the end of the day. Here’s the video – see if you can detect the AB3s of composition at work in the finished pieces.

But wait – there’s more! On Sunday, Lesta Frank and I team-taught a very non-traditional mixed media journaling class. Everyone designed their own pages and created a loose-leaf portfolio to collect and show their experimental surface finishes, including one really interesting Profile Page. This was Lesta’s idea and consisted of an actual dimensional profile cutout with descriptions of a personal profile as part of the composition. Very nice! Watch for it in the video, below.

In the critiques and discussions, all agreed that the two-day experience was great, both for those who came both days and those who came on one day of choice. We had eight participants each day, half of whom were there for both days. Nicely balanced! I will plan another weekend experience in the early part of 2016. I should be recovered by then!

Out of a job, better get organized . . .

First of all, congrats to this week’s Friday Freebie winner, Karen Cutrer, who subscribed to SHARDS five months ago. Karen, I’m not sure we’ve met, but so glad you won the Gold (or Silver)  Simple Leaf for gilding anything your heart desires. Send me an email with your address and color choice – lyn@lynbelisle.com – and I’ll get it to you right away. You have to promise to let me know how you use it! Golden eggs? Silver flower pots?

OK, so as summer progresses, I’m starting to realize that I don’t have an outside teaching job to go back to since 1969! – yikes. So I’m attempting to organize the Studio schedule to function as a full-time workspace (not an easy task for a left-handed Gemini). Here’s a first attempt at a reorganized Workshop webpage. It’s not too different yet, but I’ve added videos from past workshops and tried to make it easier to read. Suggestions?

wkSince I started teaching workshops even before I had the Studio, my goals have been:

  • Make it enjoyable for you – no stress or pressure, no scary stuff
  • Create a finished piece to take home with you to spur ideas and confidence
  • Provide all materials so you can just show up and create – no expensive lists of materials to bring – you don’t need expensive products to make art that you love.
  • Celebrate your style and your vision – no “copy me” or it’s wrong

Here are some early workshop pics from my kitchen and little ex-garage studio – we were squished, but it was still fun. I want to keep that sense of fun!

One of the new things I;m trying this fall is a longer two-day workshop, not with an out-of-town artist, but with just me, other local aritsts, or in this case, Lesta and me on one of the days. You can sign up for one day, two days, or both. There’s still a limit of eight, and lunch is included. Here are the details on that one – you can read more here:

immersion

 

 I also want to continue the monthly Show and Tell get-togethers. They really feed my soul! I’ll post those on my webiste as they are scheduled, but they will generally be the last Saturday of the month. Please take a look at the latest one from day before yesterday – wonderful!! And thanks for letting me think out loud about where my road goes from here. You are the best 🙂

Mixing it up with Lesta

accbook1

Art Book: Lyn Belisle

I love teaching with Lesta Frank. She’s imaginative, patient, talented and funny, and she has a huge following of devoted students, some of whom met us at the Studio yesterday for a special workshop. Our idea was to create mixed media accordion books that would function as a little showcase for 6×6″ collages. The collages feature hand-decorated paper and digitally copied faces enhanced with oil pastel. You can see the prototype I made, above.

1The workshop was scheduled for half a day, but as soon as Lesta got into demonstrating surface design on paper, I could tell that we should have scheduled a full day because everyone was having so much fun.

We did manage to make a bunch of gorgeous paper, construct several small collages, put our gallery books together, and have time for a critique. We’ve invited the participants back for an extra two hour bonus session following Show and Tell this coming Saturday (more about that soon).

I think you can tell from the video below what an enjoyable mixed media afternoon this was – and you can be sure that we will schedule another one soon. Thanks, Lesta!

PS – congrats to artgirl3313@gmail.com who won the Friday Freebie Beeswax and Collage download – I’ll send you the download link right away, and thanks for subscribing.

Painting with friends, part two

sherryTwo of the best art teachers I’ve ever worked with are Sherry Christensen (left) and Linda McLaughlin. For several decades, we taught art in North East ISD and saw each other often at meetings and student art shows. Now retired, they are joining me at the Studio on Thursday afternoons to explore some of the new media that’s available, and to paint together for a couple of hours.

I had great plans for doing some mid-tone painting on canvas this past Thursday, but we started playing with some scribble crayon drawings on Bristol board while we waited for our canvases to dry. Then we painted over everything with white, like artist Jane Davies often does. We lifted some paint with paper, then added a wash of Quinacridone gold. But wait, there was more! I had the beeswax out from a previous workshop, so on went a layer of beeswax, which we incised. Then came walnut ink (of course) and Shiva oil paint sticks. Then some gold foil and stamping. Man, did we have fun! The canvases will have to wait until next time – this kind of  spontaneous exploration is good for an artist’s soul 🙂

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

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) . . .